One of the more memorable storylines of Seth MacFarlane’s Ted involved the main characters’ obsession with the 1980 camp classic Flash Gordon, an adaptation of the 1930s comic strip-turned serial film series by Alex Raymond. One of the most entertaining “bad” movies out there, director Mike Hodges’ cheeseball epic is only one of a great many versions of the sci-fi property, most of which were made for television.
The original comic followed the adventures of the title character, a polo player (a football quarterback in the 1980 film) who along with companion Dale Arden is kidnapped by the half-crazy scientist Dr. Zarkov and ends up on the planet Mongo, where they fight the evil Ming the Merciless.
The most famous adaptation might still be the 1936 film serials, which inspired George Lucas’ Star Wars in many ways, from the space fantasy elements to the dogfighting spaceships and the opening title crawls. There have been several short-lived TV series based on the character, including a 1954 live-action version, a 1979 animated series, and live-action show with ran on SyFy from 2007-2008.
Now, according to Film Divider (via Cinema Blend) it appears we might have another big-screen Flash Gordon, this one written by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who are reportedly collaborating with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for the next installment of the rebooted Star Trek series, still known only as Star Trek 3, and are also attached to J.J. Abrams’ somewhat stalled adaptation of the graphic novel Boilerplate.
This news should be taken with some salt, since there is no official source named. McKay and Payne are said to be working with a producer and are “in the process of making a studio deal.” The writers’ pitch will evidently return to Alex Raymond’s original comic strip and attempt to distance the property – and potential franchise – from the camped-up 1980 film.
Payne was interviewed by Mormon Artist last month, and while the introduction claims that he is indeed working on a Flash Gordon reboot, the subject is never mentioned in the body of the interview, and there doesn’t appear to be any kind of confirmation of the project’s existence. The last we heard on such a reboot, Total Recall producer Neil Moritz seemed confident the project was happening, with director Breck Eisner (The Crazies) attached. That was some years ago, and we now know that Eisner’s next project will most likely be The Karate Kid 2.
That said, in our current age of high-concept space/sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters, a return to Flash Gordon – which is one of the originals of the genre, along with Buck Rogers – sounds like a safe (ish) bet on paper. With every studio chasing long-term franchise material, a fresh take on this story could work… or it could be another in a long line of old-school, half-forgotten titles which saw a big-budget update and were ignored by audiences (John Carter, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet).
We’ll keep you updated as more details surface.
Flash Gordon is in development.