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Matthew Vaughn, who was developing the comic strip as a future feature, says that James Gunn’s Marvel movies beat him to the punch.

With Kingsman: The Golden Circle in theaters, director Matthew Vaughn can turn his attention to other projects on his plate — including the reboot of cult newspaper strip Flash Gordon that he was in talks to direct back in 2015.

Little has been heard about the 20th Century Fox feature recently, and Vaughn — who’s reportedly shown up on shortlists for Warner’s The Flash and Man of Steel 2 in the last few months — has suggested that one reason might be the difficulty in making Alex Raymond’s comic strip stand out in today’s crowded genre field.

“For me, 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. “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.”

Conceptually, there’s certainly crossover between Flash and Guardians’ Star-Lord; both are dumb jocks from Earth who have good hearts and even better luck when it comes to getting involved with intergalactic business. Whether or not Vaughn hoped to transform Flash’s unreliable scientist friend Dr. Zarkov into a talking raccoon remains unclear, of course.

In theory, a Flash Gordon movie could be a middle ground between Marvel’s space-set series and Star Wars, as the classic Flash mythology also includes intergalactic war, a charismatic central villain and countless alien planets to explore. However, as Vaughn suggests, a middle ground isn’t necessarily the easiest place to build a franchise that needs to distinguish itself from established competition.

Nonetheless, he confirmed that he was still working on the idea, although he shied away from confirming any timeline for the project. “The way I choose films is when I know I have to make it. Simple as that,” he said. “There will be a moment where I can’t think of anything else other than getting behind a camera and shooting a movie. It’s a very hard switch to click; once it’s on, nothing stops me.”

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