According to a report coming out today, it appears that director Matthew Vaughn, hot off the success of Kingsman: The Secret Service, is directing the newest live-action adaptation of pulp 1930’s sci-fi hero Flash Gordon for Twentieth Century Fox. Flash Gordon was originally a comic strip by illustrator Alex Raymond, about an athlete who travels to another planet and fights its despotic ruler, Ming the Merciless. It was a huge influence on almost all sci-fi and comic books that came after it.
Vaughn’s Kingsman was a surprise hit for Fox, making nearly $400 million worldwide from an $81 million dollar budget, and was something of a rare thing these days–an honest to goodness word of mouth hit. Although it opened at #2 the week it came out, behind the much more hyped Fifty Shades of Grey, it stuck around theaters much longer, and was still in the top ten as of last week. Before Kingsman, Vaughn directed X-Men: First Class for the studio, so it looks like they’re trying to keep him in the family. The script is being written by Star Trek 3′s JD Payne and Patrick McKay, although if Vaughn comes aboard, expect his go-to writer Jane Goldman to take a crack at that script as well.
The original Flash Gordon comic strips, as well as their resulting afternoon matinee movie serials, were a huge part of pop culture back in the 1930s and 1940s. TV reruns of those same serials in the 1950s were big inspiration for a young George Lucas, and Flash Gordon was very much an influence on Star Wars. In fact, Star Wars was originally going to be a new version of Flash Gordon, directed by Lucas, but Fox couldn’t secure the rights from King Features Syndicate, so Lucas had to create something new. Eventually, in the wake of Star Wars‘ mega success, Universal would nab the rights to Flash Gordon, making the 1980 camp classic film, well known today for its awesome theme song by Queen.
Vaughn is probably the smartest choice for Fox to direct this movie-based on his past films, but especially because of Kingsman, he’s proven he can do over-the-top action and take concepts that might be dated, and give them a modern spin, with just the right amount of tongue in cheek, and without devolving into pure camp. If he can do the same thing for Flash Gordon that he did for 1960s era spy movies, Fox is sure to have another hit on their hands.