Flash Gordon was a comic strip that was created to compete with the extremely popular Buck Rogers strip. Buck Rogers started out as a pulp fiction story Armageddon 2419 A.D in 1928. The story was then adapted into a comic strip in 1929. In 1934 Alex Raymond created Flash Gordon to compete.
By 1936 Universal Studios had bought the rights to Flash Gordon and had turned it into a 13 part serial. At the time it was one of the most expensive serials ever made. Even then Universal recycled many sets and props from anything they could. Buster Crabbe starred as Flash Gordon, Jean Rogers as Dale Arden and Charles Middleton as the evil Ming the Merciless.
The plot featured the planet Mongo on a collision course for Earth. Dr. Zarkov (Frank Shannon) has a rocket and takes Flash and Dale with him to Mongo to try to save Earth. There they fight the evil Emperor Ming, get into spaceship fights, gun fights, sword fights, sharkmen fights, wrestle a gorilla-like creature and of course try to save the Earth at the last possible moment.
The film was so successful two sequels followed. Buck Rogers finally made on the big screen in 1939.