The story of “Wrath of Khan,” as many know, caught up with the abandoned villain Khan, left on the planet Ceti Alpha V after the events of the original series episode “Space Seed” (February 16, 1967). The planet suffered an environmental cataclysm in the interim, leaving Khan and his retinue stranded on a dying desert world. Upset that Kirk (William Shatner) never bothered to check up on him, Khan steals a Federation starship using unusual brain-manipulating earworms to control Starfleet officers. He sets about on a mission of revenge.
Revenge stories are fine fodder for action films, but Roddenberry didn’t want “Star Trek II” to be an action film. Like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” he would have preferred something headier and more based on sci-fi ideas. Roddenberry hated the final script for “Khan,” feeling the dialogue to be cheesy. He was quoted as saying:
“I think it was an exciting picture. […] I had many problems with it, though. I thought they were very lucky they had the actor they did in Ricardo Montalbán to play Khan since it was not a well-written part. ‘I will chase you through the moons of Jupiter’ and so on, in the hands of almost any other actor would have gotten snickers from the audience. Montalbán saved their ass. Khan was not written as an exciting character, he was rather flimsy. The Khan in the TV episode was a much deeper and better character than the movie Khan, except that Montalbán pulled it off.”
Khan’s line was actually “I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round perdition’s flames before I give him up,” but one can see Roddenberry’s point.