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Khan Noonien Singh, commonly shortened to Khan, is a villain in the fictional Star Trek universe. According to backstory given in the character's first appearance, the Star Trek original series episode "Space Seed", Khan is a genetically engineered superhuman tyrant who once controlled more than a quarter of the Earth during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. After being revived in 2267 by the crew of the Enterprise, Khan attempts to capture the starship, but is thwarted by James T. Kirk and exiled on Ceti Alpha V to create a new civilization with his people. The character returns in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, set fifteen years after "Space Seed", in which Khan escapes his imprisonment and sets out to seek revenge upon Kirk. The character was portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán in both the television episode and in the film.
Initially conceived as a brutal man of Nordic ancestry, Khan first appears as an Indian, who is both admired and opposed by the Enterprise crew. Harve Bennett, executive producer for Star Trek II, chose Khan as the villain. To reflect the time spent marooned on an inhospitable world, Khan was given a costume which looked as though it was scavenged from different items and showed off Montalbán's physique. The character has been positively received by critics and fans; Khan was voted as one of the top ten greatest film villains of all time by the Online Film Critics Society.
Khan makes his introductory appearance in Star Trek s twenty-fourth episode, "Space Seed", first broadcast on February 16, 1967. According to the backstory revealed in the episode, Khan is one of a group of genetically engineered supermen, bred to be free of the usual human mental and physical limitations, who were removed from power after the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. Khan had been both the most successful conqueror and the most benign ruler of the group, ruling a third of the world's area across Asia with a firm but generally peaceful hand until he was deposed. While most of the supermen were killed or sentenced to death, Khan and 84 others escaped Earth by way of the sleeper ship SS Botany Bay. Cryogenically frozen in suspended animation, the crew of the Botany Bay are discovered by the crew of the Enterprise in 2267.
When Khan's sleep chamber malfunctions, he is transported to the Enterprise, where he reawakens and learns he is in the 23rd century. Given spacious quarters while the Botany Bay is towed to a starbase, Khan fascinates and charms the ship's historian, Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue), while using his access to the ship's technical manuals to learn how to take over and operate the Enterprise. McGivers agrees to help Khan revive the other supermen, allowing him to organize a mutiny. To coerce the Enterprise crew to cooperate with him, Khan places Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in the ship's decompression chamber and threatens to kill Kirk unless the crew submits. McGivers cannot stand by as her Captain dies and frees Kirk, who neutralizes Khan's men by using a 'neural gas.' Khan heads to engineering and sets the ship's engines to self-destruct, whereupon he is incapacitated by Kirk. Captain Kirk conducts a hearing, sentencing Khan and his followers to exile on an uncolonized world, Ceti Alpha V. Khan accepts Kirk's challenge—invoking the fall of Lucifer in Milton's Paradise Lost — and McGivers joins Khan rather than face court-martial. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) wonders what the "seed" Kirk has planted will bear in a hundred years.
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