Greetings from the Odinson,
Flash Gordon is one of the most beloved movies from my childhood. At a time, the 80s, when the sci-fi genre was taking a darker and grittier turn, as shown in movies like Blade Runner, Terminator, and Aliens, Flash Gordon was a bright and colorful romp full of splendid characters and strange and alien landscapes to spark the imagination. Though the film wasn’t a “Box Office hit” and the special effects are less than spectacular, it has achieved a cult following and the effects add to the charm and pay homage to the old serials that it is based on.
The film was anchored by an all-star cast including Timothy “007” Dalton as Prince Barin, Sam Jones and Melody Anderson as the leads Flash and Dale Arden, the sultry and exotic Ornella Nuti as Princess Aura, and the magnificent Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless. It’s probably one of the most quotable movies, second only to The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Who could forget Dale Arden enthusiastically cheering her hero on “Go Flash, go…,” or the boisterous hawkman Prince Vultan’s adrenaline fueled “DIVE!” One of the real gems of this movie is the soundtrack provided by the legendary rock group Queen. The rythms of the film run the gambit from sexy and melodic to the driving hero theme that has had fanboys everywhere singing for over three decades now.
Inspired by Buck Rogers, Falsh Gordon was created by artist Alex Raymond in 1934. Though Flash has not achieved the modern popularity or pop culture success of Superman or Spider-Man, he is the quintessential sci-fi hero and the inspiration for many others that followed (Adam Strange, Star Wars, and Challengers of the Unknown). Raymond’s original comic strips have been collected in a series of beautiful hardcovers (see Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond), and for years readers could follow the adventures of Flash Gordon and his comrades in the Flash Gordon comics published by King, Charlton, and Gold Key. One of my favorite incarnations of Raymond’s creation was in a short-lived 1980s cartoon entitled Defenders of the Earth. Here Flash teams up with Mandrake the Magician and his assistant Lothar and the Phantom to battle the evil forces of Ming the Merciless. It was a fun cartoon about the heroes prepping their children to be the next generation of heroes in the fight for justice. Marvel Comics adapted it in Defenders of the Earth (1987) #1-4. Another incarnation was handled by comic veteran Dan Jurgens (Death of Superman). In Flash Gordon (1988 DC) #1-9, like many of the DC titles at that time, Jurgens updates Gordon’s origin for a new generation with a few tweaks here and there, making the adventure no the less entertaining.
The 1980 Flash Gordon movie was one of my favorites as a kid and it was wonderful to relive those memories with the 25th Anniversary DVD. The DVD also includes an interview with renowned painter Alex Ross (Marvels, Kingdom Come) who talks about how the character influenced his career. If you’ve never seen it and you’re a fan of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi camp you should definitely check it out. And if you’re like me and you’ve seen it dozens of times, much like The Princess Bride, it just gets better everytime you see it
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell