But why is it so important that Kirk be that "stack of books with legs," when it had not been so throughout Shatner's non-WNMHGB career (78 live-action episodes, 22 animated episodes, 7 feature films) portraying Kirk?
That was the question: why has it become important that Kirk be measured against that particular yardstick now, when it never had been before? Why has it become necessary that we see this "stack of books with legs" in any situation other than the one situation (even allowing Mitchell room for a bit of a fond exaggeration in reminiscence) in which it was supposed to have been true?
I am not sure what you mean by "… when it had not been so throughout Shatner's non-WNMHGB career …". It is after all part of this history, not his present and apparently there was never a story that required we actually see that part of his past. In the prime universe it is clear that he mellowed quite a bit but I think we can see the intelligent part of that Kirk in much of his post WNMHGB career. Similarly we are told nuKirk is also very bright though its hard to see how a rebel type would want to take the tests necessary to indicate that. They tend to be anti social! In WNMHGB we are told that reasoned solutions are important to Kirk and what he expects of others. For me, Spock’s character also affirms that theme. We don’t know that about nuKirk because that’s not part of his history.
Quite apart from the "stack of books with legs" being a fairly powerful image, I think it sums up the "non-action" hero part of Kirk. Or the thinking man’s hero part, if you will. There are certainly times when he gets out of a jam by using his brains. Whatever a lot of people now may want to believe, ST was never just an action adventure show with a big "dumb" leader, it blends action and intelligence.
If there was a reasonable expectation that one of the remaining films would be showing us Lieutenant Kirk, hard-nosed instructor of a "think or sink" course at Starfleet Academy, then yes, I might be looking for that as a prominent aspect of the characterization. But what's the likelihood of our seeing that on the big screen, really, besides practically nil?
Once again I don’t follow why it should be a requirement that it be explicitly shown in either universe really. It just forms part of Kirk’s back-story which gives us a handle on part of what formed him. I.e. he is a little bit different to the straight (no pun intended) muscle-bound plup action hero type.
I don’t think it is so much about Kirk being a hard ass, as a proponent of thinking
. As I say, that is part of Prime Kirk.