YMMV / Flash Gordon

The 1930s film serials:

The movie:

  • Adaptation Displacement: Some fans go for the bitchin' Queen album over the film.
  • Broken Base: Fans of the wider franchise are divided over the campiness of the film. Some reason that it could have been more serious like Star Wars (which itself was inspired by the franchise) and the comic strips and serials. Others contend that the campiness made the film far more memorable than a serious take would have, so it wasn't completely overshadowed by Star Wars like many other space adventure movies made in the 1980s.
  • Complete Monster: Ming the Merciless is the tyrannical emperor of planet Mongo. Every thousand years, Ming tests the life forms of the universe, terrorizing any planet he comes across with natural disasters. If he is recognized as responsible for these catastrophes, he deems the planet and its inhabitants a threat to his rule and destroys it. Setting his sights on terrorizing, and ultimately annihilating, Earth, Ming plagues the planet with natural disasters, causing mass chaos and destruction. The inhabitants of Mongo fare little better under his rule, as Ming is quick to kill them and destroy their kingdoms should they displease him. When earthlings Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov are brought before them, Ming lusts after Dale and attempts to force her to be his concubine, ordering Flash executed when he stands against him. He later attempts to brainwash Zarkov, all the while gloating about his plans to destroy Earth. His cruelty extends even to his own daughter, Aura; when he discovers that Aura has helped Flash escape his kingdom, Ming has no qualms with allowing his men to torture her to extract a confession. Upon locating Flash at Sky City, Ming has the kingdom obliterated, before attempting to force Dale to marry him, mentioning his plans to cast her off once he's grown weary of her.
  • Ham and Cheese: And it is delicious.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The following exchange -
    (After Flash spares Prince Barin's life)
    Prince Vultan: What is this?!
    Hans Zarkov: Humanity.
    Prince Vultan: Madness!
    • When BRIAN BLESSED appeared on Have I Got News For You and was asked why he wasn't in 300:
      I would have been too loud for that movie. I would have frightened all the Spartans.
    • Shortly before the final battle, Vultan says "Who wants to live forever??"
    • General Kala's outlandish outfits and strange body language remind one quite a bit of Lady Gaga. They even look a little alike. Considering that Lady Gaga's stage name comes from a Queen song...it's enough to blow your mind.
    • The incredible number of unlikely astronomic events, in a production scored by Brian May, an accomplished astrophysicist.
    • 35 years later Max von Sydow joined the cast of The Force Awakens, a continuation of a franchise heavily inspired by the original Flash Gordon serials.
    • Likewise BRIAN BLESSED went on to star in "The Phantom Menace".
    • Ming asking if Klytus gave his men enough pills while playing football becomes hilarious with the various PED scandals over the past decade or two - making it sound like Ming is annoyed his guards didn't get enough steroids.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Pathetic Earthlings! WHO CAN SAVE YOU NOW?!?!"
    • "GORDON'S ALIVE!!"
      • BRIAN BLESSED, commenting on the Labour drubbing in the 2008 local elections on Have I Got News for You, said "but... GORDON'S ALIVE!!!!"
      • The same joke was repeated when he was the guest host the week Thatcher died.
      • If you watch the film waiting for Blessed to bellow this line, you may come away disappointed. He actually delivers it surprisingly quietly (for BRIAN BLESSED, that is).
    • Someone writing in a newspaper in the UK hoped there would be an election while Sir Menzies "Ming" Campbell was leader of the Liberal Democrats, just because that would make it "Ming vs. Gordon." Sir Menzies was called "Ming the Merciless" and compared to him on occasions.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Ming the Merciless leaving his daughter to be tortured by Klytus and Kala.
  • Narm Charm: The film is campy, cheesy and over-the-top beyond belief. What's there not to like?
  • Retroactive Recognition: Princess Aura's pet midget is played by Deep Roy, who would later become a Tim Burton regular.
  • So Bad, It's Good
  • Starmaking Role: Max von Sydow was hardly an unknown, having appeared in films like The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist. However, this film made him an icon to moviegoers of a certain age.
  • Squick
    • Klytus' death scene. Ew...
    • Ming is hypnotizing Dale Arden with his ring and causing her to writhe in a sexy, sensual manner.
    Ming: Did you ever see such response?
    Klytus: No, truly. She even rivals your daughter.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Flash and Dale hardly knew each other when they left Earth, yet the minute they landed on Mongo they shifted from boyfriend/girlfriend to marriage plans in the span of one movie!
  • Tear Jerker: Flash and Dale's conversation before his execution; the music only adds to it.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Timothy Dalton didn't seem to understand the camp value as other actors like BRIAN BLESSED and Topol did, and treated it like William Shakespeare. Making his performance even more awesome.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Flash's first meeting with Dale is slightly stalkerish.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The film harkens back to the 1960's DeLaurentiis films like Danger: Diabolik and Barbarella.

The 2007 TV series:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Lillian, from the episode "Life Source". At first, she's a standard Monster of the Week, draining Earthmen for their life force. Then we find out that she was picked by Ming to drain the life from others to keep him alive, and at the end, he drains her completely and she crumbles into a pile of dust.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The commercials for the show featured a great cover of Queen's theme song done by indy band Louis XIV. Unfortunately, said cover never made it into the show.
    • The show in general had excellent music, "Til Death" had Aura enter in all her bad girl glory to Tv/Tv's Indie Rock Girl.
  • Growing the Beard: it was getting better by episode 13 "Sorrow"
  • One-Scene Wonder: Ty Olsson as Vultan.
  • I Liked It Better When It Sucked
  • Memetic Mutation: When this came to the UK, the Sci-Fi Channel decided to do an obvious pun on the current UK Prime Minister, i.e. "Only one Gordon can save us now".


  • Awesome Music: The 1979 animated series had an epic intro theme.
  • Dork Age: The animated series from the '90s had Flash and Dale riding on hoverboards. Yes, hoverboards.
  • Freud Was Right: Applies mainly to the comic strip. Why else does Flash use his sword instead of his raygun? And check out those rocketships!
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny
  • What an Idiot: In the city of the Hawk Men, Gordon has a really bad moment where he suggest Thun to take cover behind a door. And the signals around the doors read like "Dragon's Pit" and "Death".