Julius Avery

Does a Flash Gordon movie have new life with Overlord director Julius Avery?

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We’re just over a week away from Overlord hitting theaters. But director Julius Avery apparently did impressive enough work for Fox to give him one of its renowned, yet long-stalled, intellectual properties.

As reported by multiple outlets, Avery has been tapped by Paramount to direct Flash Gordon, a project that has had numerous stops and starts with a variety of filmmakers. The property is perhaps best known as a campy 1980 movie (with an outstanding Queen theme song) and a comic strip that ran from 1934 to 2003.

The premise of the Flash Gordon story is Earth being endangered by a collision course with the planet Mongo. Gordon is a famous athlete (in the 1980 film, he was the quarterback for the New York Jets) kidnapped by a scientist who flies a rocket ship to Mongo hoping to save the Earth. Gordon eventually becomes involved with a rebellion set on overthrowing Mongo’s dictator, Ming the Merciless.

Prior to Avery taking over, Flash Gordon was reportedly in the hands of Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn has been attached to big sci-fi blockbusters like Thor and X-Men: Days of Future Past previously, and he also made a epic sort of fantasy with 2007’s Stardust. (Additionally, he was rumored to be a favorite to direct the Man of Steel sequel that won’t be happening anymore.) He would’ve been a strong choice for a Flash Gordon movie.

That doesn’t mean Avery isn’t a good pick, however. He has action movie bonafides and is reportedly a big fan of the comic books, which inspired his pitch. Overlord is generating some strong buzz (currently boasting an 89 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes before the top critics get their crack at it) as a sci-fi/horror take on a World War II story. The Nov. 9 release follows a pair of soldiers tasked with destroying a Nazi outpost, only to discover secret experiments that are creating zombie-like creatures.

(Avery’s first film, Son of a Gun, a crime thriller starring Titans’ Brenton Thwaites and Ewan McGregor is currently available on Netflix.)

Will people be interested in a Flash Gordon movie? The original 1930s serials inspired Star Wars, man! George Lucas made Star Wars because he couldn’t get the rights to Flash Gordon (which were too expensive). That has to be worth something, right?

Flash Gordon is still an established brand name that has spawned several cartoons, comic books and TV shows, and could attract some nostalgia (such as Seth McFarlane’s in Ted), current audiences may have never heard of the character. But a blockbuster sci-fi movie taking place on another planet should intrigue plenty of viewers if it looks cool and has a compelling story.

The current Star Wars movie series and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise poses some serious competition for the outer space sci-fi audience. But maybe, just maybe, Flash Gordon can step into the void left by Marvel putting the production of Guardians Vol. 3 on indefinite hold until the studio finds a replacement for director James Gunn. Might as well aim high.