“Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi has signed onto “Flash Gordon,” as an animated feature film project from Disney-Fox. It is not known yet whether he will write, direct, or both. Deadline first broke the news.
Waititi is currently in post-production on his sure-to-be-controversial Adolf Hitler satire “Jojo Rabbit,” adapted from the novel by Christine Leunens. The story follows a Hitler youth who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic, prompting him to address his nationalistic ideals through his friendship with an imaginary Hitler, played by Waititi. Starring Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson, the Fox Searchlight dark comedy hits theaters on October 18.
Last fall, Deadline reported that Fox had hired “Overlord” director Julius Avery to write and direct a “Flash Gordon” movie, after having previously negotiated in 2015 with “Kingsman” director Matthew Vaughn. That was before the Disney-Fox merger, however, and the project now seems to be heading in a different direction entirely, perhaps one more aligned with the family-friendly studio’s aims. (There was no indication that the Avery project, for instance, was going to be animated.)
A sci-fi comic strip originating in 1934, Flash Gordon was created and originally drawn by Alex Raymond as a way to compete with the very popular adventure strip Buck Rogers.
There have been numerous films and television adaptations over the years, including the 1980 version featuring a Queen soundtrack and starring former Playgirl-centerfold Sam J. Jones in the titular role. Produced by legendary Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis, the project cycled through a bevy of high profile potential directors before ending up in the hands of Mike Hodges. At one point, Federico Fellini, George Lucas, Nicholas Roege, and Sergio Leone were either attached to or circling the project.
The Flash Gordon comic begins as Earth is threatened by a collision with the planet Mongo. Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale University graduate, along with his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov, attempt to save earth. When Dr. Zarkov invents a rocket ship, he kidnaps Flash and Dale and flied to Mongo, where they encounter the evil Ming the Merciless. The comic strip also birthed a serial featuring Buster Crabbe.