Ivan: Our Flag Means Death – A Review


Ivan: Our Flag Means Death is a new pirate comedy series that premiered on HBO Max on June 12th, 2023. The show is created by David Jenkins and Taika Waititi, who also serves as an executive producer, and stars Rhys Darby as the titular character, Ivan, a self-proclaimed pirate captain who leads a crew of misfits on a quest for treasure and adventure.

The Plot

The series is set in the 18th century and follows Ivan and his crew as they navigate the high seas, encountering rival pirates, hostile natives, and various other obstacles. Along the way, they also encounter historical figures such as Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Calico Jack, who are portrayed in a comedic and often irreverent manner.

The overarching plot of the series revolves around Ivan’s quest to find a legendary treasure known as the “Golden Pineapple,” which is said to be located on a remote island. However, the journey to the island is fraught with danger, and Ivan and his crew must overcome various challenges to reach their goal.

The Characters

One of the strengths of Ivan: Our Flag Means Death is its colorful cast of characters. In addition to Ivan, the crew includes a mute navigator named Marnie, a Spanish chef named Pedro, and a former slave named Black Caesar, among others. Each character brings their own unique personality and quirks to the group, and the chemistry between them is one of the highlights of the show.

Another standout character is Blackbeard, played by Waititi himself. Waititi’s portrayal of the infamous pirate is hilarious and over-the-top, with the character frequently breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly.

The Humor

As a comedy series, Ivan: Our Flag Means Death leans heavily into humor. The show’s humor is often absurd and irreverent, with jokes ranging from slapstick to pop culture references. However, the humor is also smart and self-aware, with the show frequently poking fun at pirate movie tropes and historical inaccuracies.

One of the recurring jokes in the series is Ivan’s insistence on referring to himself as a “captain,” despite having no actual experience or qualifications as a pirate. This running gag is emblematic of the show’s overall comedic style, which is both silly and clever.

The Production

Ivan: Our Flag Means Death is a visually stunning series, with lush tropical landscapes and detailed pirate costumes. The show’s cinematography and special effects are also top-notch, creating a sense of grandeur and adventure that is essential to the pirate genre.

The series also features an original score by Mark Mothersbaugh, which perfectly captures the swashbuckling spirit of the show. The music is both epic and playful, with themes that reflect the various characters’ personalities and motivations.

The Reception

Since its premiere, Ivan: Our Flag Means Death has received positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The show’s humor, characters, and production values have all been praised, with many critics noting the show’s unique blend of comedy and adventure.

Some critics have also noted the show’s potential to become a cult classic, with its irreverent humor and quirky characters appealing to a dedicated fanbase.


Ivan: Our Flag Means Death is a must-watch for fans of pirate movies and comedies alike. With its colorful characters, smart humor, and impressive production values, the show is a standout in the crowded television landscape. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the pirate genre or simply looking for a fun and adventurous comedy, Ivan: Our Flag Means Death is sure to entertain.