EXCLUSIVE: With his new meta action-comedy Argylle set to hit theaters on February 2, 2024, filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) was at New York Comic Con recently where he not only talked up his new flick but also told us about the wild plans for his (now-cancelled) Flash Gordon movie.
Alex Raymond’s comic strip sci-fi hero had his first foray on the big screen in three matinee serials in the late ’30s/early ’40s starring Buster Crabbe, which were a key inspiration for Star Wars. In the aftermath of Star Wars‘ success, mega-producer Dino De Laurentiis (King Kong, Dune) made a big budget feature version starring Sam J. Jones that went on to become a camp classic. It was seeing that 1980 Flash Gordon that inspired Vaughn initially.
“I saw Flash Gordon in the cinema and went ‘Oh my God, what’s this?!?!'” Vaughn told Vital Thrills. “That’s what I did all my life, watch movies and play arcade games. Those are my two things.”
Vaughn was first announced to direct a Flash Gordon reboot in 2015, but by 2017 he was uncertain of it due to its similarity to a certain Marvel property (whose hero has been called “Flash Gordon” snidely by Tony Stark).
“The only problem with Flash Gordon is Guardians of the Galaxy kind of stole what I would have liked to have done with it,” Vaughn told Collider in 2017. “You’ve got Star Wars, you’ve got Guardians, so you’ve got to have your own space opera, but you have to find something that can survive among these two very, very great franchises.”
Eventually Taika Waititi took over directorial reigns on the project, turning it into an animated film then back to live-action. Vaughn is no longer involved, although he did divulge to Vital Thrills his insane idea for Flash Gordon.
“I was kicked off, no Flash Gordon for me,” Vaughn confirmed to us. “Mine was gonna be a love letter to the original. My really crazy idea — everyone said I was mad — was I wanted to do a Flash Gordon where Ted and Mark Wahlberg’s character in Ted suddenly find out Ming is real and you redo Flash Gordon but Wahlberg is the Flash Gordon character and Ted is Dr. Zarkov! I had a crazy… yeah, I thought it’d be really funny.”
While this idea sounds wild, you can be the judge of whether or not Vaughn was serious or taking the piss out of us.
The greater the spy, the bigger the lie. From the twisted mind of Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman franchise, Kick-Ass) comes Argylle, a razor-witted, reality-bending, globe-encircling spy thriller. Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World franchise) is Elly Conway, the reclusive author of a series of best-selling espionage novels, whose idea of bliss is a night at home with her computer and her cat, Alfie.
But when the plots of Elly’s fictional books — which center on secret agent Argylle and his mission to unravel a global spy syndicate — begin to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organization, quiet evenings at home become a thing of the past.
Accompanied by Aiden (Oscar winner Sam Rockwell), a cat-allergic spy, Elly (carrying Alfie in her backpack) races across the world to stay one step ahead of the killers as the line between Elly’s fictional world and her real one begins to blur.
The top-flight ensemble cast features Henry Cavill (The Witcher), John Cena (Fast X), Oscar winner Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Grammy-winning pop superstar Dua Lipa (Barbie), and Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad).
The cast also includes Emmy winner and comedy icon Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), and the legendary Samuel L. Jackson. Alfie is played by Chip, the real-life cat of supermodel Claudia Vaughn (née Schiffer).
Argylle is directed and produced by Matthew Vaughn, from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs. The Universal Pictures release is produced by Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, Jason Fuchs, and David Reid. The executive producers are Adam Fishbach, Zygi Kamasa, Carlos Peres and Claudia Vaughn.
Max Evry has been a film journalist since 2005, serving at various times as a writer, interviewer, graphic designer, podcaster, video creator, features editor, and managing editor. Past media outlets have included MTV, /Film, IGN, and Fangoria. For home video companies Arrow, Kino Lorber, Indicator, and Via Vision, he has provided Blu-ray audio commentaries as well as featurettes for classic and contemporary films, including “Flatliners,” “Blackhat,” and Best Picture Oscar winner “Marty.” In 2023, he released his first book, “A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune – An Oral History,” to considerable acclaim.