Before joining the service, I thought everyone in the military was somehow fighting and killing bad guys. I looked to movies and television to try to put myself into the mindset of who I wanted to be if I had to fight a real battle.
Clearly, I no idea what I was getting into. That’s where the similarities between the badass anti-hero from Big Trouble In Little China and myself end.
Years before Die Hard changed every action movie that came after it into some version of Die Hard, the dream-team duo of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell brought us this bizarre but awesome story of a man determined to help save his new friends that have been captured by a mystical, ancient Chinese cult.
Jack Burton was a John Wayne in a world full of Bruce Lees. But it wasn’t swagger that made me admire this custom-booted character. Jack Burton was way deeper than he seemed — all you had to do was look.
He had heart. He had dedication. Dammit, he had fun.
Jack Burton drops pearls of wisdom.
The saltiest warriors have been around the world and they’ve seen some things most us can’t comprehend. When they try to tell you about it, it all just seems unbelievable. That’s why wise, older warriors impart wisdom by giving practical advice, not by relating one specific story. Just listen to Jack Burton:
When some wild-eyed, 8-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.”
Jack Burton is okay with being the sidekick.
Being in the military isn’t about glory, it’s not about being in the spotlight, and it definitely isn’t about the money. Big Trouble in Little China is about Wang Chi rescuing his girlfriend. When a Chinese street gang abducts her, Jack Burton is right there to fight the good fight, because it’s the right thing to do.
Even when the sh*t gets deep, Jack Burton does not run.
Jack Burton is just an average, ass-kickin’ kind of guy (with amazing reflexes). He’s used to a good, fair fight and knows when to back off. But just because he’s seeing some sh*t he’s never seen before doesn’t mean he’s going to turn and run. He’s going to stay and fight until he knows he can’t win.
Jack Burton has the right gear for the job.
Those boots, my dude. Those boots are custom.
Jack Burton is all about intel.
It’s not all about throwing around weight and fists for Jack Burton. When the situation demands it, he’s willing to be more subtle; less swagger and more cloak-and-dagger. He gathers all the information he can before he starts kicking in doors.
People want to follow a leader like Jack Burton.
Some may call it cockiness, but I see self-confidence. Jack Burton stands up for what’s right: saving ladies in distress, helping people who’ve been abducted, good fighting evil, etc. People fighting with him see it and they love him for it. Remember: Jack Burton only ever met one person in all of Big Trouble In Little China and he is still fighting with them.
Despite his shortcomings, Jack Burton gets the job done.
He’s not John McClane. He’s not James Bond. There’s very little about Jack Burton that can be called “smooth.” He can stay up all night drinking and gambling, but will keep fighting for days. Like the professional he is, he operates just as well on the third day of combat as he did on the first.
The poster for Top Gun 2 has officially been released to let audiences know that Day 1 of principle photography has begun. Awesome. I just want to be that guy and point out that, after 32 years of being in the Navy, is Maverick still only a captain. Why? How?
While he’s still got nothing on Gen. Vessey’s 46 years of service, the average time it takes to make Admiral is 23 years — and that’s taking into account only the 2.24% of ensigns who stay in that long. I guess his need for speed is really that strong.
Here’s our take on what a real-world Maverick would be (or should be) doing after all this time.
But I can’t help but feel like we’ve seen this film somewhere before…
(Pixar Animation Studios)
Stuck in Training Command
The most obvious and likely scenario will reverse the roles as we know them: the former rambunctious student is now an underappreciated teacher who has to mentor someone just as rebellious and talented as he once was.
He’ll probably hold fast to his old gotta-be-the-best mentality before he finally accepts the fact that his time has passed and his new calling is to impart all of his knowledge onto a quirky, young, Latina pilot that nobody believes in. Chances are high that this is what the film is going to be about — according to rumors, anyway.
He would need to fight the urge to go inverted, though…
Commercial airline pilot
The most common scenario is that, after so many years, he’d just say, “screw it,” retire, and look for employment in the civilian sector. I’m just saying, it’s hard to scoff at a potential 3k a year when he’d otherwise make 9k by staying in.
Maybe Maverick feels like hanging it all up and making some serious bank by flying red-eyes between San Diego and Seattle-Tacoma International. It could be a heart-felt story about a once-badass Navy aviator having to cope with a dull civilian life.
Basically another role reversal if Maverick became Gene Hackman’s character from The Firm.
Corporate lobbyist in Washington
One of the complaints many people have about the freshly-released teaser poster is that Maverick is seemingly about to board an F-18 Super Hornet instead of the F-35C Lightning II. Personally, I have no dog in this fight — maybe this all the work of Pete Mitchell (formerly known as Maverick) cozying up to politicians who want to keep the Super Hornet in production.
Top Gun 2 could shape up to be a politician thriller along the lines of Thank You For Smoking or something that wouldn’t get unofficially scrapped before the series arc could finish.
So it’d be ‘Jack Reacher’… but without the action.
Old drunk at the bar
A place Maverick frequented in the original Top Gun was that bar outside of Miramar. But what if Maverick could never really leave that bar — just like so many veterans before him? Night after night, generation after generation, Maverick sat in the bar reminiscing. Now, he’s become that washed-up old guy who tells uninterested sailors about that time he “totally” fought the Soviets without starting an international incident.
It’d be just like Cocktail or Cheers — except it wouldn’t be a romantic comedy. It’d be a serious drama about an old vet who just wants someone to talk to.
Unapologetic clothing line owner
Just like nearly every high-profile veteran that leaves the service, he could start his own veteran-owned military clothing company. He only sells jean shorts, body oil, and sunglasses. For obvious reasons, selling t-shirts is completely out of the question.
It could be a movie about Maverick and Iceman making YouTube shorts, sharing memes, and, eventually, trying to make their own movie about beach volleyball players during the zombie apocalypse…
With 100 years of war films combined with the infamously derivative nature of Hollywood, there were bound to be a few archetypical characters popping up here and there (and everywhere). As a result, any given war movie will have at least one of these guys:
1. The Recruit
Young, green, and completely new to war and death, the Recruit is a little naive but ready to tackle any challenges thrown at him. He or she will either lose his or her innocence or die. (Oops, spoiler alert).
If the story starts in basic training, the movie will see a number of characters grow and evolve into some of the other character types.
It doesn’t have to just be a basic trainee, though. There are many stages of military training where a service member can show how green he or she may be. The longer they remain naive, however, the more likely they won’t make it to the end of the movie, because it makes their death more tragic and that is a great catalyst for the main character.
2. The Cocky Pilot
Everyone knows this guy before he even shows up. He knows his bird, he knows his job, and he knows the skies. So does everyone else. He might be a loose cannon, a renegade… a Maverick?
Sometimes the other pilots don’t entirely trust him; his leadership questions his judgement. He might be too good. You may not trust him at first either, but he’ll surprise you. He probably rides a motorcycle.
3. The Drill Sergeant
Where would the platoon be without training? Who turns the recruit into the Dependable NCO (more on that later)? The Drill Sergeant of course. the most famous example being R. Lee Ermey’s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, his lines are, at some point in their career, quoted incessantly by everyone who ever served ever.
You don’t see much of the Drill Sergeant lately, but if there’s a story that covers a character’s entire service or requires a group of raw recruits to congeal as a unit, they have to start somewhere. It’s usually basic training.
If you civilians are wondering why someone who is supposed to be scaring the undisciplined crap out of recruits to train them to be the best American fighting forces on the planet is depicted as being so funny, it’s because the drill instructors are funny. We just aren’t allowed to laugh until at least a year later.
4. The Crazy Officer/NCO
He could be a war junkie or he could be literally insane. The truth is, there’s a screw (or two) loose up there somewhere and unfortunately, everyone in his chain of command will still act on his orders. Because the Drill Sergeant trained us to.
If the Crazy Officer gets too crazy, you can be prepared for his downfall being central to either the main plot or one of the rising actions as the story goes along. If you hate him and he doesn’t really add anything to the unit like the Drill Sergeant does, chances are good he’s gonna die or just be removed in some way. Captain America in Generation Kill is also a good example of the Crazy Officer, but one the most memorable is Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now.
5. The Dependable NCO
This is the guy you want leading you into battle… because he will lead you out of it. You will not only learn how to fight this war, but you’ll learn why you’re fighting it and why it matters to your country. He will probably save your ass at some point. He is 100 percent good, following the laws of war and protecting his men and civilians. This earns him some enemies among his own but he is still one bad ass good guy. Sgt. Elias in Platoon is a good example of the Dependable NCO.
Unfortunately, your emotional attachment to him means his days are probably numbered. He might be too good for the enemy to kill, so he will likely be killed by either friendly fire or in some sort of fragging incident. You will want to save him and so will many of his men… but they probably can’t. There are a few notable survivors, however.
6. The Dependable Officer
A true leader, he is also undeniably human. Where the Dependable NCO knows the score in every situation, the Dependable Officer struggles with the morality of every decision he or she makes and weighs it against what his gut tells him. When it comes time to be decisive, he nails it. You would never know how long he or she thought about it. This is why his troops trust him. He also regularly pulls his people out of harm’s way.
The Dependable Officer sympathizes with the people he or she leads, but takes the fallout of the decision on and doesn’t let themselves get too carried away. No matter what, they will always do the right thing until they can’t go on.
He is often an old school officer, never fraternizing, but knows his men well. The Dependable Officer may talk to other officers about his thoughts, but he will only reveal himself as a real person to his men if/when necessary.
Like the Dependable NCO, the Dependable Officer’s fate isn’t always sealed. For unknown reasons, The Dependable Officer actually has a much higher survival rate than the NCO.
7. The Gruff NCO
The saltiest of the salty, the grizzled, old Gruff NCO has been there and done that and survived. You don’t have to like him, and he doesn’t care if you do or not, but you will respect him. Chances are good he will make it to the end credits and teach you about life along the way.
8. The Incompetent Officer (or NCO)
The Incompetent Officer seems like he’s in the unit way too long. How can it not be clear to everyone how bad this person is at his job? The truth is we need this person to commit egregious acts of stupidity and inability for far too long, right up until the critical moment, because from his removal or comeuppance, a true leader will emerge.
If the true leader doesn’t emerge, then the incompetent one is used either as an example of what the worst case scenario for an officer could be, or to contrast with the really good people in the outfit, to make them look even better, like Captain America did to contrast Lieutenant Fick’s leadership in Generation Kill.
9. The Jokester
Usually the best part of that particular movie, the Jokester is the comic relief for a film or one of the central characters. They’re usually up against a person or system that is so unfunny and rigid so as to be like… an Army or something.
Still, their behavior doesn’t make them unlikeable, at least not on screen. Chances are good, however, in real like you would probably want to blanket party this person every night. But this isn’t real life, and watching mudwrestling with Ziskey and Ox seems like a great time.
The Jokester doesn’t have to be an outright party animal. Joker in Full Metal Jacket may have been a Jokester, but he was actually still a good troop who did his job, even as a rifleman, despite his personal feelings about the war. Remember, Joker is the one who shot the Vietcong sniper at point blank range.
10. The True Leader
He emerges when he’s needed most. He handles every situation he’s in like an expert, even when he’s not. He wears a brave face for his men, but even so, the men know he cares for real. More often than not, when the True Leader shows up in a war film or show, the character is based on a real person.
The True Leader would have to be based on a real person who was a true leader, because if he were fictional, no one watching would ever be able to believe he did the things he did.
11. The Sniper
This one is pretty self- explanatory. The Sniper isn’t in every movie, but when he’s there, he’s the guardian of the troops on the ground, the eyes in the sky, and the avenging angel of death who gets sh*t done when no one else can.
One thing is for certain: it really is awesome to watch sniper scenes.
12. The Veteran’s Veteran
Maybe he’s trained in a bunch of stuff the average troop will never see or even read about. Maybe we’re better off not knowing guys like this exist. Some of them are so awesome in battle, they don’t need a quick reaction force, close air support, or even a gun.
No matter how operator they may be, what makes them The Veteran’s Veteran is what they do for their fellow warfighter. Their feelings are usually captured in a meaningful speech during or after the battle.
So, you’re a high-speed, low-drag new trooper who wants to have a successful and rewarding military career. The only problem is that you’re lazy.
Not “I can’t get out of bed without a personal pep talk from Richard Simmons” lazy, but more, “I’m not going to make my bed because I’m just going to ruin it tonight” lazy.
In the civilian world, that’s fine. But in the military, you can actually get demoted for not making your bed. So how do you get ahead in Uncle Sam’s Rifle Club with minimum effort? Easy. You learn to sham (or if you joined the sea services, “skate”).
Shamming and skating are the fine arts of doing little to no work while avoiding friction and punishments from command.
The trick is to pace yourself throughout the day, doing work only when necessary but also giving the perception of constant activity.
A top-shelf sham day starts with not doing physical training. The most obvious way to get out of this is a pass from the medics. WATM does not encourage this…but here’s our guide. If you can get a full-day pass to stay in the barracks, your shamming is now in easy mode.
But sick call slips and chits are rationed, and remaining on quarters for too long can get you kicked out for “malingering.” If you want to get promoted, you’ll have to get more creative.
First, always know who is instructing PT in the morning and what the planned activity is. If Spc. McMuffin is leading the platoon on a slow jog down the main strip, just bite the bullet and do PT. But if Sgt. Creatine is leading a ruck-run and circuit-training Crossfit extravaganza, then you need to volunteer for a work detail.
But wait, wait, wait! I thought you said I wasn’t going to have to actually work?
Sure, volunteering for work may seem counterproductive. But pulling a 12-hour guard shift on some ammo in a field while you’re playing the newest Candy Crush level and taking turns napping with the other guard is way better than playing log throw with Capt. America and then spending all day at a desk.
Speaking of desk work, there are ways to sham through that if you get stuck in it. If you permanently work in an office, the best thing you can do is create the impression that you’re always working way too hard to be interrupted.
This can be achieved with multiple little green notebooks, legal pads, and an endless number of browser windows. Spread the legal pads and notebooks around the desk and fill the open pages with illegible writing. Draw lots of arrows between areas of text.
If anyone asks what you’re doing, start talking a lot about guidance from headquarters and how it affects 3rd quarter mandatory training. There’s not an NCO in the world that will stick around.
When you’re only working the office for the day, the best thing you can do is offer to shred things and take the trash out. No one is timing these tasks, so there’s plenty of time to joke around with buddies or check your phone. You should take the trash out at least three or four times in a regular duty day.
And, once you volunteer to take the trash out enough times or to run other errands, people will start thinking that you must be doing said errands when they can’t see you.
Now you’re in business. Once they stop checking up on you, start adding a 20-minute nap to each errand and trash run that you do.
Another place you can work constant naps into the day is the motor pool. Avoid emptying and reloading connexes by volunteering to PMCI vehicles. At each vehicle, open the front doors and raise the hood, then rack out in the back seat for a few minutes. Finally, declare the vehicle ready to go, close everything up, and move on to the next one.
At the end of the day, there’s always the risk that a pleased platoon or first sergeant will want to inspect the room of such a squared-away individual.
Fear not — passing room inspections is easy. The trick is to get the barracks super clean one time. We’re talking perfection here. No dust anywhere, scrub the backs of the appliances, secure the bedspread with bungee cords and glue the hospital corners into place. Tie up your roommate and hide him in the woodline.
Place neatly organized study cards next to your computer, which should have exactly one browser window open to whatever your branch’s promotions and accessions guidance is.
The platoon and first sergeant will not believe their eyes. They’ll praise you in front of the formation and talk amongst themselves for days about how polished you are.
Then they’ll become complacent and they won’t inspect you anymore. They might come by for payday inspections and the company change of command, but that’s about it.
The rest of the year you can walk around in your room dripping marinara sauce onto the floor, and no one will know or care.
That barracks will become your palace of filth, and no one will be the wiser. In fact, they’ll be so impressed by that one inspection and all those guard details you volunteered for that they’ll promote you ahead of your peers until you get paid to move out of the barracks — you won’t even have to get a contract marriage to the first person you meet off-base.
Congrats, shammer. You have arrived.
(Also, maybe retrieve your roommate from the woodline at some point. He could legitimately die).
The idea of a macho-man being referred to as a “Rambo” is so ingrained in everyone’s brains that it’s hard to remember that there was actually a time before Rambo movies actually existed. But now, it looks like Sylvester Stallone’s alter-ego John Rambo is really going to be in his final movie titled I’m Getting Too Old For This Shit;Rambo: Last Blood.
Set to a slowed-down version of Lil’ Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” Rambo: Last Blood leaves no old-guy action-star cliche unturned, which is why it will probably be awesome. In a plot that looks kind of like a mash-up of the last 20 minutes of Skyfalland the final episode of Breaking Bad, it seems Rambo is going to set a bunch of boobytraps and kill a bunch of dudes who probably (maybe?) deal drugs. (Killing evil drug dealers is what badass old dudes do full time in action movies these days, just so we’re clear.)
Rambo: Last Blood (2019 Movie) Teaser Trailer— Sylvester Stallone
The only question that remains at this point relative to Last Blood is whether or not Sly will utter the greatest old-guy action movie battle cry of all time; will Sly actually say “I’m getting too old for this shit?” And if he doesn’t will it really be Last Blood, or could there be a sequel. It’s a bit of a paradox, to be honest. When someone says “I’m getting too old for this shit” in an action movie (usually Danny Glover), it almost certainly means there’s a sequel and they are, in fact, not too old for this, or any other shit.
The Army-Navy game is a big deal. That said, over the course of this 120-year rivalry, it’s been important for different reasons.
Through World War II, Army and Navy were two college-football powerhouses, able to hold their own against the likes of Rutgers and Norte Dame. Both Army and Navy have won National Championships, but that hasn’t happened for either team since 1946 and 1926, respectively. Currently, across the 117 meetings of these two teams, Navy leads the series 60-50-7, thanks, in part, to a 14-year winning streak that ended with Army’s 21-17 win in 2016.
Times have changed: Today, Army and Navy aren’t regular contenders for the national championship. But even if these teams aren’t competing for a national title, the Army-Navy game, which has been played routinely since 1890, is still a big deal. In fact, it’s the only game played the weekend after conference championships.
Why is this game so fervently followed? There are a number of reasons outside of exciting football, two of which are unique to this match-up. First, while many Division-I college players eye professional football after graduation, those going to military academies are to fulfill a five-year service obligation. The fact is that most professional teams selecting players in the seven-round NFL draft don’t have the luxury of waiting for that service obligation to end.
Although this hasn’t stopped some of the greats in the past, including Roger Staubach, Phil McConkey, and Joe Cardona, it’s not very likely today. That means that the men on the field are playing purely for the love of the sport, not for a contract down the line.
Second, what sets the Army-Navy game apart from other college football matches is the fact that the players in this game, at some point in the next four years, will be defending our country. Each year, first-class cadets and midshipmen storm Lincoln Field in Philadelphia, ready and willing to play for pride, while they’re just months away from joining a military still fighting a global war on terror.
All will serve bravely and, unfortunately, some of them may even make the ultimate sacrifice. In July 2010, former Army quarterback Chase Prasnicki was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. The Army-Navy game is just as much a celebration of the brave, young service members that defend our home as it is a celebration of sport. That is why the Army-Navy game is such a big deal.
When We Are The Mighty sat down with Sylvester Stallone, Sly revealed some truly astonishing things about one of action movie history’s most beloved characters: John Rambo. Most of us blacked out when Stallone revealed that Rambo didn’t originally join the Army but came to in time to learn a few great things that make the character much deeper than we ever imagined.
That was just info from Stallone. It turns out there’s much more, so we dove a little deeper.
Somehow, the character of John Rambo has entered the folklore of the Kamula people on the island nation of Papua New Guinea, despite limited access to film and television. The Rambo of folklore is said to be a gunrunner who fought in the 10-year civil war in nearby Bougainville, and will come back to defend Papua New Guinea in case of World War III. In Kamula culture, along with other tribes, Rambo is said to symbolize peak masculinity.
Rambo’s trademark knife wasn’t supposed to exist
In the book First Blood, on which the movie and character John Rambo is based, Rambo never had a survival knife of any kind, let alone a giant one to use to bring down the entire police force of Hope, Wash. Stallone added the knife for effect, hoping to make the weapon a character all on its own.
Rambo wasn’t a killer – originally.
John Rambo never actually kills anyone in First Blood. There is only one death in the entire movie, and that happened as an accident when an overzealous cop falls from a helicopter while shooting at Rambo. In subsequent movies, that all changes of course. Rambo’s body count is 76 in First Blood: Part II, and 132 in Rambo III. In Rambo, he appears to kill the entire Burmese Army with one .50-cal.
Stallone hated the first cut of First Blood.
The first time Stallone saw the edit for First Blood, he hated it. It was three and a half hours long, and Rambo’s dialogue was terrible. At first, Stallone wanted to buy the film so he could burn it. Instead of that, he re-cut the film to 93 minutes with most of his dialogue removed, which is what you see when you watch it today.
Without ‘Rambo’ there would be no ‘Predator’
When Rocky Balboa took on Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, no one in Hollywood was quite sure who Rocky’s next opponent could possibly be. The joke was made that Rocky would have to fight some kind of Alien in Rocky V. After a while, Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas began to take the idea seriously and wrote a Rocky-Rambo Hybrid movie that we call Predator.
In Rocky V, Rocky fought a former student named Tommy Gunn. In the street. Outside a bar. In case you were wondering.
John Rambo was almost played by John Travolta
Imagine how different action movie lore would be today if Sylvester Stallone hadn’t been in the writing and casting process. John Travolta was considered for the role of the former Green Beret and one-man wrecking crew before Stallone stepped in and nixed the idea.
Travolta also almost became Forrest Gump and Pete “Maverick” Mitchell of Top Gun fame.
Arthur John Rambo of Lincoln County, Mont. gave his life to save his fellow soldiers in Tay Ninh, Vietnam.
There actually is a John Rambo on “The Wall.”
Arthur John Rambo was an artilleryman with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam. He was mortally wounded by multiple hits from rocket-propelled grenades on Nov. 26, 1969. As he and his fellow artillerymen came under heavy mortar fire, a nearby self-propelled howitzer took an RPG hit and caught fire. Rambo cleared his fellow soldiers out of the way and attempted to drive the vehicle, still burning, away from the area where it wouldn’t be a threat. He did so successfully, but the vehicle took two more RPGs. The last, killing Rambo in action. Arthur John Rambo was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
“Nothing is over!” Damn right.
Rambo commits suicide. In the book.
… and in the original cut of the movie. Remember when Sylvester Stallone re-edited the entire movie? Rambo killing himself didn’t make the final cut, even though that’s what happens in the book. Instead, Stallone asked a few Vietnam vets what troubles they face, and Stallone wrote a speech at the end of the movie to let the world know.
That original movie sounds awful. Thank god for Sylvester Stallone.
Look, I don’t like him either. You think I wanted Black Widow to be the one who couldn’t be revived in Avengers: Endgame? If anything I wish Hawkeye could have died twice – or better yet, a million times while trying to cut a bargain with Dormammu. Unlike Dormammu, I would never get tired of that. Unfortunately, if we were all caught with Hawkeye somehow being away from the Avengers for all eternity, they would cease to be an effective fighting force.
I won’t even get into how one man took down cartels, terrorists, and gangsters worldwide.
1. The Avengers are 7-0 with Hawkeye
This is probably the most important reason. As one aptly-named Redditor pointed out, while some of you might believe this is coincidence or luck, they are also 0-4 in battle without Hawkeye. Why did Thanos win in Infinity War? I’m not saying it wasn’t because Hawkeye wasn’t there but I’m also not ruling it out.
Black Panther is wearing a Vibranium suit and Hawkeye is fighting him with a stick while wearing a t-shirt.
2. Hawkeye is fundamentally better than every other Avenger
Is Hawkeye a demi-god? No. Does he have billions of dollars? No. Sorcery? Super Serum? A metal body? No, no, no. Hawkeye is a guy, just some dude, who sees really, really well. Let’s see if skinny Steve Rogers can get punched in the face by Thanos all day. We’ve already seen what happens when Tony Stark is wearing Tom Ford and not Iron Man. Even though he basically just wears clothes and shoots a bow and arrow (albeit with some trick arrows), he’s still flying around in space, fighting aliens, and taking on killer robots.
At least you know one of them can help with the mortgage.
3. Hawkeye is the glue that keeps the Avengers together
Where did the Avengers go when their chips were down? Hawkeye’s house. Where even his wife had to point out what a freaking mess they all were. He recruited Black Widow and turned arguably the most powerful Avenger – Scarlet Witch – into a real sorcerer just by pointing out that he was fighting an army of robots with a bow and arrow because that is his job.
Hawkeye: 1, Avengers: 0
4. The Avengers are lost without Hawkeye
Literally. The one time Hawkeye was actually playing for the other team, he just completely kicked the crap out of them. Agent Coulson got killed and two of the more powerful Avengers were spread into the wind. He’s lucky Natasha hit him in the head with a railing because there’s no way they’d have beaten Loki – or even come together as a team – without Hawkeye. Hawkeye became the Avengers command and control center, turning a bunch of riff-raff into a coordinated fighting force.
Even when pitting Hawkeye against Wave II Avengers, there’s still no comparison. He tases Scarlet Witch and gets the upper hand against Quicksilver.
“You exist because I let you.”
5. At least two of the Avengers are alive because Hawkeye let them live
One of the first clues we get to Black Widow and Hawkeye’s shared past is that Hawkeye was supposed to kill her and decided to recruit her for S.H.I.E.L.D instead. When Thor was powerless in New Mexico, Agent Coulson decided to send another agent in to stop the God of Thunder, who was just mowing down his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Hawkeye, instead of ending Thor, Hawkeye let him live.
Bonus: Hawkeye does sh*t other Avengers barely pull off, if at all
In Endgame, Spider-Man in a powered suit is overcome by Thanos’ forces. Captain Marvel in all her glory eventually gets taken down. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is running through tunnels and rubble away from crawling doom carrying the Infinity Gauntlet, simply handing it off to the Black Panther.
For the record, he’s also the only Avenger to hold an Infinity Stone and not whine about it endlessly. After seeing Hawkeye throw Cap’s shield, I’m pretty sure he was also pretending he couldn’t pick up Thor’s hammer.
Military simulators are always a huge hit within the gaming community. Flight simulators give gamers the opportunity to sit in a (simulated) cockpit. First-person shooters imitate the life of an infantryman. World of Warships and World of Tanks give the gearheads out there a chance to pilot their favorite vessels.
And then there’s the game that’s taken gaming world by storm lately: Fortnite. It features a 100-player, battle-royale mode that has players duke it out until only the best (or luckiest) player survives. At first glance, it seems like a standard PUBG clone — until you realize that a huge part of the game is about, as its name implies, building forts.
Underneath its goofy graphics and RNG-laden (random number generator) loot system is actually a fairly intricate game. The overall premise is simple: Land somewhere, scavenge materials to build, find loot, build stuff, fight the enemy, move toward the objective, and build more stuff.
Then, it suddenly hits you.
What separates the skilled players from the 10-year-old kiddies screaming memes into their headsets is the ability to construct a dependable, defensible position. In order to be successful in Fortnite, you have to quickly build and rebuild secure bases that can’t easily be destroyed while giving you the ability to get up high and view the battlefield.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes)
This is not unlike the essence of what a real combat engineer does in real life: Deploy somewhere, get hand-me-down materials from the last unit who was in Afghanistan, build stuff, fight the enemy, continue the mission, and then build more stuff.
Granted, you’re distilling an entire career into a 20-minute long video-game match, but the parallels are there — but real engineers have more fun. Building stuff is only half of the job description; using explosives to take out enemy positions is when the real fun begins.
“Ranger Games,” by former Seattleite Ben Blum, is something of a genre mashup, part journalism and part family memoir.
The journalistic part pieces together, in high definition, the brazen 2007 robbery of a South Tacoma bank by a group of Army Rangers from Fort Lewis. The robbery, Rick Anderson’s coverage of which for Seattle Weekly gets brief mention (“Soldiers of Fortune,” Nov. 29, 2007), is a stranger-than-fiction tale in which a possibly psychopathic Army specialist convinces a “cherry” private and a small group of others that their training makes them well-suited to take out a bank.
As Blum describes it, the robbery sounds like something that would have been fun to watch were you not facing the barrel of one of the AK-47s the robbers hoisted: Rangers vaulting over barriers, calling out precise time checks, and then respectfully thanking everyone when it was done, all within 2 minutes. Astoundingly, the elite soldiers’ dexterous robbery was undone when they drove away, with security cameras watching, in one of their own cars with the license plates in full view. Arrests were made within a day.
None of these details are spoilers, by the way; so rich is this book that the facts of the robbery are dealt with quickly in the first few pages.
Which brings us to the family memoir part of the book: Blum’s insight into this piece of local history is sharpened by the fact that his cousin was one of the robbers—or the get-away driver, to be precise. Pfc. Alex Blum’s Audi with Colorado plates was the team’s undoing, and a large portion of Ranger Games is devoted to Ben Blum trying to figure out how Alex wound up involved in such a fiasco. As described by the author, the Blum family is an all-American sort, which is not necessarily a flattering look: they are wealthy, white, apathetic toward the Iraq War Alex would soon be fighting in, and sitting ducks for the looming housing crisis.
Blum’s portrait of his cousin is unsparing, peppered with quotes that make you kind of hate him. “I play a tough guy on the exterior, but a kid gives me a card, I hang it in my office. He signed it himself, in his little retard writing,” Blum quotes his cousin at one point in full bro mode.
Indeed, it is Ben Blum’s love-hate relationship with his cousin that is the driving tension of the book. The central question is how willing a participant in the robbery Alex was. Through breezy explanations of Ranger culture and prisoner psychology, Blum builds a plausible case that Alex was completely at the mercy of his military chain of command, and so when a superior told him to drive to a bank with a bunch of guns in the back seat he had no choice but to follow orders.
This theory was endorsed by none other than Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist who orchestrated the Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971. At one point, Zimbardo and Alex appeared on the Dr. Phil show to explain how it all worked in Alex’s brain. “So what you’re telling me,” Dr. Phil says at one point, speaking for the entire world, “is that you did not know that you were involved in an armed. Robbery. Of a bank.”
Blum shares Dr. Phil’s skepticism. The author is careful to note the holes in this explanation, and as the book progresses those holes grow and shrink. The book reaches its climax when Blum has an 8-hour interview in a federal penitentiary with Luke Elliott Sommer, the ranger who orchestrated the heist. Blum contemplates whether Sommer is a psychopath—with the help of a clinician from Washington’s McNeal Island—to uncertain results.
What’s clear is the guy is highly manipulative and fucking nuts, a dangerous combo if there ever was one. He was prone to forcing subordinates to do “suicide checks” at Fort Lewis, which entailed giving soldiers a gun and demanding they hold it to their head and pull the trigger, to prove loyalty and trust. Blum writes that he could empathize with those who obeyed the crazy orders.
“At the distance of a small table from Elliott, there was a strange double quality to my consciousness,” Blum says in describing falling into Sommer’s trap, “one half telling myself I could see right through him, the other half helplessly interacting on his terms.”
More than anything else this is a book about uncertainty: Uncertainty in one’s consciousness, in one’s family lore, in Dr. Phil, in what we can call free-will. Uncertainty in why the robbers didn’t cover up the Audi’s license plate.
Let’s be honest: When it was announced that the Space Force was going to be a real thing, it was met with either disdain among those who anticipated a ridiculously high cost for something that doesn’t seem like a big deal or with excitement from those eager to live out all of their sci-fi fantasies.
The truth is that the Space Force is likely going to fall somewhere in the middle, doing logical things like defending military satellites and whatnot — but where are all the fun, sci-fi adventure bits?
Now that we’ve all seen the new trailer for the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, the general public is getting their first taste of the intergalactic team called the Starforce. So, let’s merge our extensive, geeky knowledge of comic books with the real-world military to take a look at what life would be like if the US Space Force were more like Marvel’s Starforce.
Potential spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
I, for one, welcome any opportunity to gain superpowers.
(Marvel’s Captain Marvel vol. 1 #1)
We’d all get superpowers
Each member of the Starforce has some ridiculously awesome superpower. Superhuman strength, flight, and durability all come standard, but each member has their own thing that makes them special, like shooting lasers out of their hands or telepathy.
Members of the Starforce weren’t bit by some radioactive plot device. Instead, they were all sort of given their powers, which would be awesome for Space Force recruits. These powers would make for a pretty great addition to a post-service resume.
(Marvel’s All New Invader vol. 1 #3)
We’d have competent leadership
The team is led by a being called the Supreme Intelligence that is basically a giant amalgamation of the world’s greatest brains — we find it best not to question comic book logic. Anyway, according to comic book lore, the being is said to be one of the smartest things in the galaxy, so there’s that.
Chances are, in the real Space Force, the GT score required to get in will likely bar most of the idiots from joining. Who knows? Maybe it’ll take a masters in astrophysics just to commission.
And it’s kind of confirmed for the film.
We’d all fight intergalactic aliens
The ultimate dream of every Space Force hopeful is to go f*ck up some aliens on some distance planet. In the comics, the Starforce has fought nearly everyone in space in one shape or form.
In the opinion of this writer, conflicts with extraterrestrials is an eventuality once we start turning our eyes outside of our solar system. But there’s a glaring downside to that….
I’m still in, though. You had me at “free superpowers.”
(Marvel’s What If: The Avengers Lost Operation Galactic Storm #1)
…We’d kinda be the bad guys
We said spoiler warning earlier, right?
Well, here’s the thing. The Starforce aren’t actually “heroes,” nor have they ever been. If you know the comics, then it’s kind of obvious what’s going to happen in the film. Captain Marvel, the model airman-turned-superhero, is going to join them very early on — and things will turn sour. Both Korath and Ronan the Accuser are also on the team (as shown in the trailer) and they’ve both proved to be interstellar as*holes in Guardians of the Galaxy. So, infer what you will.
While the good Kree mostly fought with the objectively evil Skrulls, the Starforce fought against the Shi’ar empire — a peaceful race of aliens who just want to learn and study things — and the Avengers.
To be honest, given the amount of hype we’ve seen at the prospect of “f*ckin’ some aliens up,” it’s not too much of a stretch to think that we’d be the ones to fire first in space.
Imagine the two most ballsy but also kind of dimwitted members of your squad — the Pvt. Snuffys and Lance Cpl. Schmuckatellis of the world.
Now imagine them in civilian clothes with millions of dollars. Take it one step further and imagine that they have those millions of dollars because they’ve become international arms dealers who sell to the Department of Defense.
That’s what the Warner Bros. movie, “War Dogs” is like. It follows Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, two civilians who desperately want to be rich and live the good life. Diveroli is a stoner and the heir to a modest family business re-selling weapons bought at police auctions online. Packouz is his pothead buddy.
These two kids find a way to act as middlemen for the U.S. government when it purchases arms for Iraqi, Afghan and other allied militaries. They go on to fedbizopps.gov — a real website where the government lists available contracts — and try to outbid defense corporations for contracts to provide light bulbs, ammunition and any other supplies the military needs.
Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, played by Jonah Hill and Miles Teller, party with Packouz’s wife at a company event to celebrate the arms dealers’ successes. (Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
As their business, AEY Inc., grows, they bid on larger and larger contracts. Without giving any of the movie’s big surprises away, the two gun runners get in over their heads the same way Pvt. Snuffy and Lance Cpl. Schmuckatelli would. The guy who directed The Hangover, Todd Phillips, also directed War Dogs — and it shows.
Diveroli and Packouz’s misadventures in international arms dealing are a lot of fun to watch as they alternate between partying, firing powerful weapons and getting caught in dangerous jams by their inexperience. In one memorable scene, they’re left racing through the Iraqi desert with a smuggler as insurgents attempt to kill them and steal their cargo — a literal truckload of Beretta pistols.
For obvious reasons, a movie about gun runners during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s spends a bit of time with the U.S. military. While the film doesn’t get everything exactly right, it does seem to capture the spirit of bored soldiers pretty well. A mounted patrol saves the gun runners at one point, but the first driver immediately flips the bird at the stupid civilians he just had to pull out of a jam.
The crux of the movie is a $300-million deal to arm the Afghan security forces for years, a real contract that AEY won in January 2007. That’s where the film gets tense as the bumbling dealers attempt to buy millions of rounds, thousands of missiles and grenades and tons of other equipment from former Soviet Bloc mobsters.
Despite the serious nature of arms dealing, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are funny and enjoyable as Diveroli and Packouz. The movie provides an entertaining look at what goes on behind the scenes to arm both U.S. troops and allies around the world, and delves into the shady underbelly of that world while being fun instead of preachy. It’s available to watch on Amazon video if you need to kill some time!