While early signs appeared to point towards Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan fame, over the past few months there's been plenty of support for Gary Mitchell, the God-like antagonist of 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', while other possibilities have ranged from the plausible (Tolian Soran of Star Trek: Generations) to the frankly ridiculous (Evil Picard). However, it seems Paramount may have inadvertently revealed the character's identity, with a newly-released image from the film accompanied by a caption that refers to Cumberbatch's villain as... wait for it... none other than
"(Left to right) Zachary Quinto is Spock, Benedict Cumberbatch is John Harrison and Chris Pine is Kirk in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions."
Given the secrecy surrounding Into Darkness, it's unlikely that the studio would make such a schoolboy error so it's probably safe to assume that 'John Harrison' is nothing but a decoy. Of course, there's every chance that 'John Harrison' could be some kind of reworked version of Gary Mitchell. Or Khan. Or just about anybody else, for that matter.
So, while we're still not really any further forward when it comes to Cumberbatch's role, it has been confirmed that Klingons will make an appearance in the forthcoming sequel, with several sites reporting that the iconic villains have been spotted in footage from the film. If you'd looked very closely, you may have noticed them tussling with Benedict Cumberbatch in the teaser trailer (they're sporting the same helmets we saw in the deleted scene from Star Trek), and according to SuperHeroHype, we'll see two of the characters unmasking, and that they'll be sporting "forehead ridges but with ornamental piercings and facial hair out of the original series."
Meanwhile, if you're looking for another Wrath of Khan reference, it's also being reported that Alice Eve (Men in Black 3) will be playing the character of Carol Marcus - the inventor of the Genesis device, and mother to Kirk's only son, David...
Star Trek Into Darkness is due for release on May 17th, 2013, with a cast that includes Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Nazneen Contractor, Noel Clark and Nolan North.