I find Abrams' approach refreshing because it opens new ground for new stories, BUT moreover because of the fact that it claims to respect the previously-established universe.
It made no such claims. It was being polite.
But from your reaction, when the suggestion of changing established lore in another "space saga" is made, apparently you DO have a pretty definite opinion.
You're right. My definite opinion is lore doesn't matter. That's not the issue. You're false analogy has nothing to do with the two of them both being in space. It's a matter of amplitude.
If you still don't get it, let's borrow from Dennis's
signature for a moment. Darth Vader is iconic. Khan is not.
Vader has become the physical embodiment of cinematic villainy and the central representative of it. His physical attributes--the red sword, the scary mask, his silhouette and stance, etc.--are what created that icon. Bring a picture of Darth Vader anywhere in the Western world and people will immediately associate the image with movie bad guys. Many of those people have never seen a Star Wars film, but they know exactly what the image represents. Even if they can't detail who
Vader is, they know what
On the other hand, Khan is familiar. He is the bad guy in a mildly successful space film from 1982 who morphed into a modest meme. More importantly, outside of geek circles, this familiarity drops to null.
In other words, Darth Vader will undoubtedly show up in a cultural anthropology paper or two some centuries down the road. Khan will be completely forgotten within a few decades.
But even that is not to suggest Vader can't be messed with. If Abrams comes along and says, "I'm going to make Vader a chick for shits and giggles." There would be rage. But if he makes a valid case for doing so that falls within the realms of reasonable artistic license, most of us (the reasonable folk) wouldn't have a problem with it. But all that is moot because Episode VII is going to be a direct sequel. ST09, despite all your attempts to deny it, is a reboot.
Since you brought them up, lets take things further with Supes, Bats, and Bond. You can argue different formats or whatever your excuse is all you want. But that's really not the issue. They are all bigger than Star Trek
, and threw the "canon" charade out the window along time ago.
Of the three, Supes is really the only one who can claim iconic status, or at least the shield is. But people generally see primary colors and a cape and think uber-goodness. But, ultimately, this is moot as the other two are probably more popular.
Let's focus on Bond. Unlike, Star Trek
, it does have a source--a "bible" if you will--which has been completely ignored from the word "go." Details have been changed on a whim to fit into whatever artistic agenda the director was trying to convey.
It's only a matter of time before Bond is played by a minority. I suspect it will even be the guy who succeeds Craig. And, yes, EON has seriously considered changing Bond to a woman at least twice. And if Western culture ever gets over its fear of strong women characters, a Jamie Bond is only inevitable.
Of course people will complain. People still hate Craig because he has blond hair. But to most of us, the difference between complaining about hair color and complaining about gender are indistinguishable. It's all lunatic fringe.
Most people won't care. And here's the kicker: Bond is the most popular fictional character in the world. Nearly as many people know James Bond as they do Jesus Christ.
Speaking of Jesus Christ, he's been portrait as white, dark, brown, green, and even a woman. And what about dear old Dad? The same can be said for Him. So if the freaking All Mighty is not immune to reinterpretation, why is some backwater, Melville-quoting supervillain?
So you see, canon is myth.