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Headscratchers / Flash Gordon (1980)

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  • What's the point of the Arborian trial of initiation? It is not a test of skill, or wisdom, or anything really as it seemed to be entirely based on the random occurrence of the venomous beast being pissed off and stinging or not the young boy. What's exactly being tested? Luck?
    • I thought it was religious: "your god depends on the forest god's will" or whatever.
    • Luck and courage, are you brave enough to stick your hand in the hole and lucky enough to pick the right one? The bravery part is self-evident, but the luck thing needs spelled out. There are multiple holes, the beast is only in one of them, plus it doesn't always sting even after being riled up (we know that because Flash stuck his hand in the hole where it lived and was unharmed), so the odds are pretty good that you'll live. Anyone too cowardly to try it doesn't deserve pass the initiation. Anyone who is unlucky enough to be stung, even when the odds are stacked against it, clearly doesn't have the favour of ...insert deity of choice here...
      • Or alternatively, Ming came up with it and its purpose is to demonstrate to everyone that Ming is a Dick who likes the thought of people killing themselves for no reason.
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    • Possibly it's a test of nerve: if you can keep your hand steady when it's in the hole, the creature may be much less likely to attack. Still sucks if you're unlucky enough to touch the thing when you reach inside, but it's not entirely random if motion (like a shaky hand) is what provokes it.
  • "Activate Agent Zarkov." Oh yes, send the newly-brainwashed guy after the girl causing all the trouble. After all, if for some reason the brainwashing failed, reuniting two allies can't hurt at all.
    • It makes sense to use a brainwashed ally to trap someone, if the someone doesn't know that their ally is brainwashed. Besides, Ming the Merciless without bombastic overconfidence is not Ming the Merciless.
    • In the novelization, there was a scene where using Agent Zarkov in this manner was deemed economical. Literally. The Mongo economy is suffering from inflation, and running the scenario through a computer simulation reveals that using Zarkov to get Dale is saving them on resources.
  • Okay, Dr. Zarkov. Smart enough to know that aliens are destroying the Earth and can build a rocket that travel to other planets, but he didn't think of using a cinder block for that other pedal he couldn't reach? Also, they never actually stop the moon crashing into the earth, they just kill Ming. Did somebody have to take Flash aside after the film ended and explain that the Earth had been destroyed?
    • Presumably, when Ming died, it somehow reversed the effects.
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    • The little floaty robot-thing tells Flash that he's "saved [his] Earth" after he kills Ming, so we can assume the moon-crashing badness was averted.
    • Also, Barin runs in and says "The generators have been destroyed!", which I presume means the generators that were moving the moon.
      • Those were the shield generators, that were powering the sparkly force field which sealed off Ming's capital city. It's when the generators go down that the barrier drops and the wedding guests catch sight of War Rocket Ajax hurtling towards them.
      • It's fairly safe to assume that Flash deduced, from the fact that he was not an incinerated husk, that the shield generators were down. That would not be news to him. Most likely, Barin's reference to 'generators' really was meant to refer to whatever was causing the Moon's orbital decay. Perhaps they didn't want to pay Timothy Dalton to do the scene over with the phrase 'Moon magnets' instead.
      • Perhaps they should have. Timothy Dalton is worth every penny.
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    • Presumably Zarkov was expecting his assistant (remember him?) to stick around to work that control pedal, not pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
  • "Barin is the rightful heir!" So what's Aura, a Fanservice extra?
    • Wasn't Ming a usurper?
      • In the original newspaper comics, it is in fact implied several times that Barin is the last survivor of a previous dynasty overthrown by Ming. He still has supporters even in Ming's own army.
    • The daughter of a deposed, hated, and feared tyrant whose cruelty and capriciousness was second only to her father. If she had taken the throne it would have been the quickest counter-revolution in history.
    • Barin and Aura were most likely married shortly afterward anyway. In fact his coronation was probably Aura's decision. It nicely ties up everything.
    • Besides, who better to lead the place than Timothy Freaking Dalton?
  • What kind of planet is Mongo, and why are the "moons" essentially floating islands in the atmosphere with nothing below (in the Hawkmen's realm) but the Imperial Vortex? I seem to recall something looking like a solid surface for the palace during the wedding scene, but am unsure. Is Mongo in fact a gas giant for purposes of the film or some weird extradimensional space?
    • This troper would bet on the "weird extradimensional space" option, considering the sheer amount of Artistic License – Physics the film would have to be stuffed with otherwise.
    • This troper thought the "moons" were just the remnants of conquered planets that had been mostly obliterated by Ming's forces and held by some kind of artificial gravity above Mongo's surface. If they can control weather, why not gravity? Also that would explain how Mongo can travel through space on its own power. But that still doesn't explain the Imperial Vortex below the Hawkmens' Realm.
    • It could be a gas torus, like in The Integral Trees.
  • When Aura and Flash arrive in Arboria, Barin says he will hang Flash up with the rest of the fresh meat or something similar is this just a threat or would they actually eat him?
    • It's probably more talk than anything. Not only is Barin hot for her, he puts up with a lot of her BS because he is, and she clearly enjoys giving him BS because she knows he's hot for her and she can get away with it. Not only is he openly hostile she brought, at the time, an enemy of Ming to his realm that Ming just tried to execute, a man who's presence could bring serious consequences to him and his realm, he's also openly hostile because of WHY she did it. Basically, she wants to get into Flash's pants. He caves and lets her leave him, but he's using his profound ability of snark to let her know that he isn't pleased about doing so at all. Ultimately what's driving Barin is jealousy. He knows she's hardly loyal to him, but he's still her best-looking suitor, so before Flash arrives, he obviously feels that eventually she'll stop messing around and settle down with him. Flash is likely his first major contender over himself in the looks and ability department, and he's so unsettled that he tries to come up with an excuse to kill him. Once he sees what Flash is truly made of (And basically figures out that Flash isn't interested in Aura whatsoever,) he finally comes around and sings a different tune.
    • A larder is also a place to store food for your pets, which may have been Barin's intention. Instead of eating Flash himself, he might have intended for him to be Fed to the Beast.