Taika Waititi is attached to “crack” ‘Flash Gordon’ in the form of an animated film for Fox/Disney. Fox has had the rights to ‘Flash Gordon’ for years now, with plans to reboot the franchise as a live-action film. First Matthew Vaughn (the ‘Kingsman’ franchise) then Julius Avery (‘Overlord’) were attached to direct, Mark Protosevich tackled the script, and Sam J. Jones, who starred in the classic 1980 film, was even involved on some level. At this time, it isn’t known what role Waititi will take. Will he write, direct, produce, or some combination of the three? It’s also unknown if this animated film is starting from scratch or if any elements from the previously planned live-action versions will be retained.
After directing the franchise reinvigorating ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, which drew HEAVILY from the campy 1980 ‘Flash Gordon’, Waititi has become a highly in-demand filmmaker. Since then, he has launched two TV shows, FX’s ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ based on his 2014 film of the same name, and New Zealand’s ‘Wellington Paranormal’, also based on the same film. He is currently wrapping up his comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’ about a young German with an imaginary friend, Adolph Hitler, played by Waititi himself.
He was attached to direct a comedic stop-motion animated film ‘Bubbles’ based on the life of Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee. However, that film appears to have been torpedoed by HBO’s documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ which focused on alleged sex abuse that Jackson is accused of inflicting on two young boys, now grown adults. The public doesn’t seem to be in a laughing mood, when it comes to the King of Pop. (Yet… Waititi is making a comedy about Hitler?!) Technically, Waititi departed ‘Bubbles’ due to “scheduling.” (Mmm hmmm.)
‘Flash Gordon’ is an incredibly old brand, originating in newspaper comic strips created by Alex Raymond in 1934. The concept– an Earthman must save the world from the invading Ming the Merciless from the planet Mongo– was such an immediate sensation that it was quickly adapted into film serials, starting in 1936, with Buster Crabbe playing the space traveler.
‘Flash Gordon’ has been adapted numerous times, with the 1980 film, directed by Mike Hodges and produced by Dino De Laurentiis, being the most famous among modern fans. That film experienced a revival by being heavily featured in the comedy movie ‘Ted’. The bombastic soundtrack by Queen has always had its fans, but after the success of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, all things FreddieMercury are also en vogue again.
In 1979, Filmation created the first animated ‘Flash Gordon’ series, followed by an animated movie ‘Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All’, which is widely considered one of the best adaptations ever made. However, the movie aired on TV only once and has never been released on home video in the US.
Flash Gordon would go on to star on the Marvel Productions cartoon series ‘Defenders of the Earth’ (1986-87), and Lacewood Productions’ ‘Flash Gordon’ (1996-97), which recast the main characters as hoverboard-riding teens.
What do you think about an animated ‘Flash Gordon’ from the mind of Taika Waititi?