Taika Waititi Is Directing A Totally Unexpected Superhero Film For Disney

by Jessica Wang
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Fresh off his satire film about Nazi Germany, Taika Waititi will direct another superhero film for Disney — but it's not quite what you think. According to Deadline, the Thor: Ragnarok director has been tapped to write and direct an animated feature adaptation of Flash Gordon. Based on the comic by Alex Raymond published in 1934, Flash Gordon follows the adventures of the titular character on his quest to outer space to save the planet. The hero has been described as an "all-American athlete who was kidnapped from Earth and thrust into the middle of a raging war on the distant Planet Mongo," according to Comics Kingdom. Flash Gordon is then "caught between the forces of Prince Barin, the rightful ruler of Mongo, and Ming the Merciless, self-proclaimed emperor of the universe.”

Given Flash Gordon's eccentric description — the original comic is dubbed as a "space opera adventure" — Waititi certainly appears to be the perfect fit for the project. While the director has been tapped to "crack" the animated project, Waititi's team "indicates it's too early to gauge exactly what his role would be," according to Deadline. The animated feature will follow the 1980 live-action film adaptation starring Sam J. Jones and Max von Sydow.

Flash Gordon, of course, wouldn't mark the director's first project with Disney. Waititi's credits include 2017's Thor: Ragnarok and 2011's Green Lantern. The filmmaker also penned the original screenplay for 2016's Moana, but eventually parted ways with the project. In a March 2017 interview with The Guardian, Waititi said of the decision: "It wasn't anything to do with the process, I just got bored," he said. "Like I do all the time, I just ended up wanting to do my own thing again." During the interview, the New Zealand filmmaker also credited his Pacific roots in his initial decision to join the project.

"I thought, well, the best way of them not making something that's insensitive or shallow was to involve people from that community, from the Pacific," he said. "If there’s some way I could be at the table and help try and make this not a bad film, then I'll try."

Waititi is currently in post-production for Jojo Rabbit, an "anti-hate" satire film based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. Set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany, the film will follow a young boy Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) — one "whose only ally is his imaginary friend Hitler" (voiced by Waititi) — who discovers his family is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. In June of last year, the director took to social media with a glimpse of the upcoming project, which is slated for an October 18 release.

Alongside a photo of himself flipping off Hitler, Waititi wrote, "Week one down of our anti-f*ckface satire, Jojo Rabbit. Can't wait to share it with the world. Also, what better way to insult Hitler than having him portrayed by a Polynesian Jew?"

With both a Hitler satire and "space opera adventure" coming up, there's truly no telling what the director will tackle next.