Everyone knows that rumors in Hollywood are nearly as plentiful as hair on an ape’s back, especially when it comes to science fiction projects. But this is one of those times where the hushed whispers actually amounted to something, as last week’s story about a Flash Gordon reboot has now been confirmed by Twentieth Century Fox, who sealed the deal based on a pitch from veteran producer John Davis and Star Trek 3 screenwriters J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Here’s hoping these guys have a heart pure enough to turn this film into the Golden Grail of remakes.
The bulk of Davis’ career has rotated between science fiction flicks and children’s movies — he’s produced everything from Predator and Waterworld to Doctor Dolittle and Dudley Do-Right. Flash Gordon almost fits squarely in between, though this version of Gordon’s story is said to be a tad more mature than the costumed spectacle of the 1980s version. (Which isn’t saying much, as fetuses are more adult than that movie was.) Davis bought up the rights using a discretionary fund and brought in screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Adjustment Bureau) to write a treatment of the script, after which Payne and McKay were hired to flesh ut out into a full feature. Nolfi will also serve as a producer on the Flash Gordon reboot.
It isn’t quite clear where Flash Gordon’s adventures will take him in this update, though I’m certain the script is going to stick to the basic origin story, in which our sporty hero joins his lady Dale Arden and zany scientist Hans Zasrkov on a rocket ship to the planet Mongo, where the despotic Ming the Merciless is busy weaponizing meteors. Of course, any one (or all) of those details could change, but I’m betting they stick to Ming as the villain. Because how could you deny this iconic facial hair?
Flash Gordon’s adventures go back to 1934, when creator Alex Raymond published the very first comic strip. A series of 1930s and 1940s film serials followed, starring the dashing Buster Crabbe, with Sam Jones taking over the role for Mike Hodges’ Queen-soundtracked 1980 feature. I’m betting Fox is already trying to get Channing Tatum to take over the title role.
Payne and McKay don’t have any produced screenplays yet, though they previously adapted the graphic novel Boilerplate for J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, along with a Micronauts script, based on the 1970s toy line of the same name. But nothing else matters so long as they give Flash Gordon a decent story and some quality fight scenes. Below is a blueprint of how not to do it.