‘Flash Gordon’ Heads Back to Mongo Via ‘Predator’ Producer and ‘Star Trek’ Writers

By  · Published on April 23rd, 2014

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

With Star Wars heading back to theaters, it’s only natural that Flash Gordon follow suit. Ironically, it was the 1930s Flash Gordon serial that was a big influence on George Lucas, whose Star Wars movies then seemed to have an influence on the release of the campy Flash Gordon feature in 1980. This time, though, another adaptation of Alex Raymond’s sci-fi comic strip will be more tied to the Star Trek franchise.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, hot new screenwriters J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who worked on the next Trek installment, have been hired to script this other reboot. They’re working off a treatment by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau), who’ll be producing with John Davis, of Predator, Waterworld and Norbit fame.

That sounds like it’s in decent hands, though maybe hands that are too serious. And a Flash Gordon movie that’s taken seriously is going to be hard to accept unless it is outstanding in a totally new way. Many of us are just too fond of how the last version was done (with some of us also fans of the cheesy serials) to see the appeal in something that’s not at least a little tongue-in-cheek. Plus, Sam Jones’s recent cameo in Ted, with full-on Flash Gordon homage, was only another reminder of the property’s association with the most awesome kind of silliness.

We haven’t seen anything written by Payne and McKay yet – they’ve also worked on the Micronauts movie for J.J. Abrams and an adaptation of the graphic novel Boilerplate, neither of which has been made yet. But unless they were hired to make Star Trek 3 this generation’s Voyage Home, it’s hard to imagine they’re going to be following any tradition in tone. Of course, they could be fine at being serious for some projects and silly for others, just like the 1980 Flash Gordon’s scribe, the recently deceased Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Let’s get serious, ourselves, though. The only thing that really matters as far as who’ll be involved with the new Flash Gordon is what great rock band will be doing the score. The previous movie is great for many reasons, but it’s the music by Queen that pulls it all together for an exciting ride. Just imagine it without that electric guitar and synthesizer accompanying all the action, let alone the shouts of “Flash! Aaaaaahhhhhhh!” Never mind who’d you cast or who should direct. The important thing is to tell us who should do the soundtrack.

And nobody mention Fun., who have been compared to Queen and even do a cover of “Radio Gaga.” We need someone much cooler than them.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.