Taika Waititi is set to be the savior of the universe. Deadline reports that the acclaimed filmmaker behind Thor: Ragnarok has been hired by Fox/Disney to “crack” a planned animated adaptation of Flash Gordon.
It’s apparently too early to tell if Waititi will end up writing or directing the project. Right now, the studios just need someone creative enough to figure out how to make the classic science fiction adventure work as a modern motion picture. Everyone from Matthew Vaughn to Julius Avery have been attached to the project over the years, but this appears to be the first time the rights owners have wanted to go the animated route.
Flash Gordon first appeared in a 1934 comic strip created by Alex Raymond. A number of serials starring Buster Crabbe were later created, as was a wonderfully cheesy 1980 Hollywood picture starring Sam Jones and Max Von Sydow. Queen handled the soundtrack, and their title theme has remained a popular entry in their repertoire. The latest attempt at an adaptation was a short lived 2007 TV series on SyFy, which was axed after one season.
While Waititi’s take on Flash Gordon is said to adhere to the original concept and less the ’80s camp of the most previous movie, there will likely be some changes. The main villain is an alien from the planet Mongo named Ming the Merciless. Though he’s not even of Earth, his name and appearance were clearly spurred on by Yellow Peril sentiments of characters like Fu Manchu. Considering Waititi just left another troubled project, an animated film called Bubbles set to tell Michael Jackson’s story from the point of view of his bet chimp, it’s likely the filmmaker will find a way to steer clear of such problematic characterizations.