20 years ago, STAR TREK GENERATIONS showed that Captain James Tiberius Kirk got sucked into a ribbon of energy called the Nexus where he lived out the rest of his days, before briefly helping Jean-Luc Picard and dying in the process.
Now despite this seemingly definitive ending of the William Shatner Kirk, fandom has never quite been satisfied with that conclusion, and there have been continual efforts to bring the character back. You may remember that Shatner-as-Kirk was supposed to appear as a hologram in J.J.'s first STAR TREK, singing Happy Birthday to "Spock Prime" back when he was alive.
Maybe appearing on a hologram could've masked the two-decade age gap between Kirk at the time of his disappearance and Shatner's current age, but I'm curious to see how they handle the lapse of time now that it's been confirmed that he'll be reprising the role that made him a star in Roberto Orci's STAR TREK 3.
I'm baaaaccckk!!!— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) October 7, 2014
The rumor that Shatner would be appearing alongside old pal Nimoy in the J.J. Trek-verse has been kicking around for a couple of weeks. There's been a healthy amount of skepticism to its veracity, mostly due to the fact that, yes, in TREK canon, Kirk dies long before he looks like modern-day William Shatner.
However, word on the street is that Shatner will be sharing screentime with Chris Pine, prompting the notion that Shatner won't be playing the Kirk we know and love but rather the older version of Pine's fatherless alt-universe James Kirk. Our own Harry told me he believes that to be the case, and it certainly would be a plausible way to get 83-year-old Shatner back in the Starfleet duds. Nimoy's return would also allegedly be as the older version of Quinto's Spock, rather than the older "Spock Prime" of TOS and the last two entries.
If he does appear, it will probably only be for a scene, but still, having Shatner return as Captain Kirk after two decades AND to personally pass the torch off to New Jack Kirk gives Orci-TREK a much-needed momentum boost.