20th Century Fox is going back to the drawing board on a Flash Gordon reboot. Again. The studio has been trying to get a new feature film adaptation of the 1934 comic strip off the ground for years, and now Deadline reports that Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi has been hired to take a stab at a Flash Gordon animated movie. Deadline says he’s writing and directing the new adaptation, but Waititi’s team tells the outlet it’s too early to gauge exactly what his role will be. But what’s clear is he’s being hired by Disney-Fox to envision a way forward for the IP as an animated feature.
After impressing with smaller scale features like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Waititi successfully rebooted Marvel’s Thor franchise with the 2017 sequel to stellar results. He’s subsequently been in heavy demand, although he’s currently set to next direct Warner Bros.’ long-gestating adaptation of Akira after finishing his WWII-set satire Jojo Rabbit, which hits theaters this fall. He had been working on a stop-motion animation project called Bubbles at Netflix, about Michael Jackson’s titular chimp, but he backed out of the project for “scheduling” reasons as the film came under fire in the wake of HBO’s Leaving Neverland, which brought troubling allegations against Jackson back to the forefront. Netflix has subsequently dropped the project altogether and its future is unclear.
As for Flash Gordon, the fantastical sci-fi serial was adapted into a film in 1980 which subsequently gained a cult following, and Fox has been attempting to get a new version off the ground. Kingsman helmer Matthew Vaughn signed on to direct in 2015, but he subsequently explained that Guardians of the Galaxy “kind of stole” what he had planned to do, and he eventually fell off the film. Most recently Fox hired Overlord helmer Julius Avery to direct the reboot in October of last year, but now under Disney’s control it appears the idea is to reconfigure the project as an animated film.
Curiously enough, when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub spoke with Waititi on the Thor: Ragnarok junket, he revealed that he made all of his department heads watch Flash Gordon in preparation for making that film. So one imagines he has a deep appreciation for that take on the character. As Collider’s Dave Trumbore recently surmised, if anyone can make Flash Gordon work in today’s landscape, it’s Taika Waititi.