After watching Avengers: Infinity War, it should come as no surprise that Flash Gordon has been a major influence on Anthony Russo and Joe Russo as filmmakers. Yes, there is their reference to the 80s action flick which gets spit out by Iron Man at Star-Lord ahead of the battle on Titan, but the space-drama has touches of its stamp on their cosmic efforts throughout. The same can be said of Taika Waitit's Thor: Ragnarok, a director who will open up about his love of Flash Gordon with the Russo Bros. on this week's episode of Pizza Film School on thee AGBO Films YouTube channel. Speaking to ComicBook.com ahead of the new School episode, the Russo's opened up about why Flash Gordon was their movie choice to have fun analyzing.
"[Flash Gordon is] probably the film that I watched more than any other movie or I've watched more than any other movie in my entire life," Joe Russo explained. "It came out in 1980. Cleveland had gone bankrupt in '79. Cleveland is sort of a tough blue collar city that when industry started dying in the early to mid 70s the city crashed, and this film came out of the moment where we needed peak escapism. And I remember going to the theater, I was 10, with my uncle Ron, and seeing this movie and just absolutely loving it. I mean, I couldn't stop talking about it. I'm sure I went back two or three times, and when it came out on Betamax a year later we had it playing on a loop. The soundtrack is probably the most listened to soundtrack of our lives."
Joe Russo has a deep appreciation for the film, right down to how the mixture of tones comes from a combination of creative stamps behind the movie. "Semple, who wrote the screenplay worked on the Batman, it was the sixties TV show and sort of camp," he says. "That show is very evident in his scripting of Flash Gordon. A very self-aware movie. But you also have Mike Hodges who did Get Carter, you have some intense moments in the film. Like 45 minutes into the movie they actually are going to kill the lead character by executing, and Hodges spends a good 10 minutes making you believe they're going to kill him. And then they do kill him. He just happened to get saved by some space magic, but I find the tone of the movie so unique. It's hard to find another film that plays in the sci-fi arena that has the same tone as Flash Gordon, where it's as intense as it is in moments and as silly as it is in others, with that kind of soundtrack."
Clearly, the Russo Brothers have no opposition to killing main characters and using space magic to bring (most of them) back to life. Avengers: Infinity War saw half of the universe being wiped from existence thanks to Thanos, with Avengers: Endgame using the Infinity Stones to bring those victims back into reality.
"Comic books are inherently serialized, right? They're traditionally cliffhangers at the end of every book to get to the next book," Anthony Russo eexplained. "Or if it's not, it could be a cliffhanger, there's certainly some loose threads. That structure isn't always appropriate for a close ended movie, even when Marvel is serialized, you're still trying to tell a complete story in that particular film. The one place where it was certainly applicable was Infinity War, which ended like any big event comic would, with a giant cliffhanger ending. I think there is some applications, or that structure is applicable sometimes, but not, but it's not the same as... Comic books are very different."
Unfortunately for the Russo Bros., they have not yet had a chance to meet Flash Gordon himself Sam Jones.
The latest episode of Russo Bros. Pizza Film School is available this weekend on the AGBO Films YouTube channel.
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