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Ming the Merciless

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Ming the Merciless

Ming

Name
Ming the Merciless
Title
Ming, Ruler of the Universe and Emperor of Mongo
Type of villain
Monarch, Dictator, Warlord
Power and abilities
Technological advanced armies, space-ship armadas, slaves, swordsmanship, greatest scientist on Mongo
Goal
To defeat Flash Gordon, conquer Earth and marry Dale Arden
Relatives
Princess Aura (daughter)

"I like to play with things a while, before anihaliation." 

- Ming the Merciless

Ming the Merciless was the Emperor of Mongo and arch enemy of Flash Gordon . He was the tyrannical dictator of the planet, bent on the conquest of Earth. When Flash Gordon and his companions, scientist Hans Zarkov and Dale Arden traveled to Mongo to prevent its ciollitison with Earth, they were captured by Emperor Ming's forces. Soon, Emperor Ming's megalomaniacal views brought him in confilct with the earthlings.

Ming the Merciless has become a staple of the "Flash Gordon" mythos appearing in every incarnation, most famously as portrayed by Max Von Sydow in the "Flash Gordon " (1980). 

Original comic strip (1934-1946)

Ming the Merciless was introduced in the original 1934 run of the "Flash Gordon" comic strip written and drawn by Alex Raymond  in the newspapers. He got introduced as just "The Emperor" and imidiately expressed desire to marry Flash's female companion Dale Arden. He forced Gordon into slavery and later forced him to fight in the arena. His daughter, Princess Aura fell in love with Flash Gordon and joined him in his fight against her father.

Strip

Ming's first appearance in 1934 by Alex Raymond

Eventually, Ming got overthrown by Flash and his alies during the ceremony of marrige. Prince Barin became Mongo's new ruler. 

"Flash Gordon" (1936-1940 serials)

When the comic strip got adapted in serial format for the cinema's in the 1936 serial: "Flash Gordon " the role of Ming the Merciless was played by Charles B. Middleton  he was charachterized as ruthless and slightly based on the charachter of Dr. Fu Manchu . Middleton reprised the role in two sequel serials: "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars " (1938) and "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe " (1940). This interpitation of Ming became one of the most well-known in pop culture for years to come. 


"Flash Gordon" (1979-1982 TV series)

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Ming the Merciless in Filmation's "Flash Gordon"

In 1979 Filmation produced an animated series based on the comic strip. Ming the Merciless' voice was provided by famed voice actor Alan Oppenheimer . In the series he was known as a brilliant scientist and ruthless warlord who had a robot army to his disposal. He would engage in personal combat more than Middleton's incarnation. He was dispised my most races on Mongo but exacted control over his subjects due to the hatred between those races. 

"Defenders of the Earth" (1986 TV series)

In the 1986 animated show "Defenders of the Earth " a more unstable and green-skinned version of Ming the Merciless served as the main villain. He faced off with Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician  and other Golden Age comic strip heroes who came together in the show and had an army of "Ice Robots". 

Feature Film (1980) 

In 1980 "Flash Gordon" was adapted in a big budget feature film directed by Mike Hodges and produced by Dino DeLaurentiis and music composed by "Queen". It starred Sam J. Jones as Flash, Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin, Brain Blessed as Volton, King of the Hawkmen and veteran actor Max Von Sydow as Ming. 

Max Von Sydow's portrayal of Ming left a deep impact on popular culture and is regarded as the most popular
MaxMing

Ming offering Flash a kingdom

version of the charachter. Von Sydow played him sociopatic and megalomane while keeping the charachter courtly and elegant. Emperor Ming possesed a magical ring in the film with which he could force his will on others. He had as close associate his Admiral, Klytus. He was also depicted as more sexual in nature. 

At the end of the film, Ming appears to die after being impaled by a rocket ship but his laugh is heard just before the credits. The idea for a sequel was established but never produced. 

Max Von Sydow's portrayal of Emperor Ming has become a beloved and well-reconised one. 

"Flash Gordon The Animated Series" (1996 TV series) 

In 1996, another animated series based on "Flash Gordon" was produced by David J. Gorbett in Canada. It depicted Flash and Dale as teenagers in a more futuristic setting. In this version, Ming was more reptilian and monsterous with an army of Lizard Men. 

This depiction of Ming was also the widower of a deceased wife. The series was unpopular and produced only 26 episodes before being canceled. 

"Flash Gordon" (2007 TV series) 

In 2007 a 21 episode live-action television series was produced for the SyFy Channel , loosely based on the comic strip. The series followed "Steven Gordon" and his scientist companion Dr. Hans Zarkov who discover the exsistance of Mongo and its dictator Ming, in this series a white, brown-haired male who controls his subjects over holding the only clean water suply. 

Ming was portrayed by actor John Ralston

Legacy  

Ming the Merciless is regarded as one of the classic comic strip villains. He has also become a famous wicked archetype. In the past, there have been claims of racism due to Ming's obvious Asian influence but the Flash Gordon series and its main villain have stayed popular since 1934. 

Ming the Merciless was parodied in the British satire programme "Big Train " in 1998. 

Gallery 

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