Before Chris Hemsworth starred as Thor in Marvel's 2011 film, he played George Kirk, father of James T. Kirk, in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. In that film he, well, died. So why is Abrams now saying we'll see him and Chris Pine together in the next film?

George Kirk died heroically in 2233 saving 800 people, including his wife and newborn son. But a recent report gives new life to the character.

While promoting Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond, producer Abrams was asked if they have ideas for the inevitable Star Trek 4. He said, “Yes, and there’s something that hopefully we’re figuratively minutes away from talking about. The answer is 100% yes, and it’s incredibly exciting.”

It wasn't too long after Abrams dropped a bombshell to Access Hollywood.

This could mean any number of things. First in line is of course time travel.

To my mind, Star Trek is a franchise that should use time travel sparingly. And the current films used it in a big way already in 2009's Star Trek, creating the current "Kelvin" universe in which the new actors inhabit classic roles. Will we see Pine's Kirk going back in time to interact with the father he never knew?

There's another time travel-related possibility. I've yet to see Star Trek Beyond but what if it wraps up the Kelvin universe and Star Trek 4 brings us to a 2033 in which Hemsworth's Kirk survives, making him a new lead for the franchise?

They could just as easily cast Hemsworth as someone else of course, Abrams hasn't specified whether or not he's playing Kirk. Next week's San Diego Comic-Con has some big plans for Star Trek so it's likely we'll get more details on this very soon.

Jill Pantozzi is a pop culture writer and host who reports on all things nerdy and beyond! Her blog was recently relaunched with Patreon support and she’s formerly Editor in Chief of The Mary Sue. She’s written for MTV, Tor, Playboy, Publishers Weekly, IGN & more. You can keep up with Jill, and her cats, on Twitter at @JillPantozzi.