In the fog of war, service members are forced to make decisions that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Some decisions are based on actionable intelligence, and others are based on gut intuition; ultimately, anyone who deploys and sees combat will come up against the question of whether or not they’re making the right decision.
Recon, Robert Port’s latest film, explores just that. Stationed in Italy during the middle of WWII, Recon follows four American soldiers over a day as they’re ordered out on patrol on what might be a suicide mission. The men witness their sergeant kill a local right before they’re ordered out on patrol, so none of the foursome know if they’re being sent out to perish or succeed.
Unlike other war movies that explore the external motivating forces that drive the plot, Recon examines the internal challenges that deployed soldiers come up against. Recon is based on the 2010 novel Peace, written by Air Force veteran Richard Bausch.
Recon is the feature debut for Port, who won an Oscar for his 2003 documentary short, Twin Towers. Recon stars Alexander Ludwig (Vikings), Sam Keeley (68 Whiskey), Chris Brochu, and RJ Fetherstonhaugh. Franco Nero (Django, Die Hard 2, Django Unchained, John Wick: Chapter 2) stars as the local who leads the unit through the forest.
The film initially premiered at the Austin Film Festival last year. Despite its relatively low budget, Recon features some impressive production values. Most surprisingly, the entire film was shot in Canada – a fact that’s not obvious since the entire film takes place in a wintry forest.
So, what makes Recon different than all the other WWII movies out there?
In an interview with WATM, Port noted that Recon isn’t just a film for WWII veterans – it’s a film for all veterans. It’s also a film that asks much of its viewers – namely how to be empathetic toward America’s veterans. He wants the viewers of Recon to question their morality and mortality, just as the film’s characters do.
“What’s something I should do the next time I see a veteran? What’s it like to walk in their shoes? It’s easy for us to judge, but unless we were there, we don’t know,” said Port.
That’s something Port spent his life trying to imagine. After narrowly escaping Hitler’s invasion, Port’s grandfather came to America and then enlisted in the military to fight in Europe.
“He never talked, as many of the greatest generation don’t do, about the actual killing. Instead, he talked about how human beings needed to look out for one another,” said Port, noting that that’s a commonality that all veterans share.
It’s a question that Port has spent much of his life trying to answer, so when the opportunity came to work on the film, he jumped at the chance. Port hopes that his audience will watch Recon and then explore how they can give back to the veteran community.
In an interview with WATM, the film’s star Alexander Ludwig, of Vikings, said that working with a script where the main character was driven by internal forces rather than external obligations was life-changing.
“For me, that really helped me get into the psyche of what it would be like to be someone in 1944 in Italy and deal with the psychological and physical trauma they had to endure,” Ludwig said.
Aware of his ability to go back to his hotel room each night after filming, Ludwig said he still isn’t sure how the WWII soldiers endured.
“I can’t even say I know what it’s like to go through anything like that. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I’m so grateful to be able to share this wonderful story with the world,” Ludwig added.
Recon launched November 10 as a one-night Fathom event in AMC, Cinemark and Regal theaters nationwide and is now available On Demand Everywhere, learn more at http://www.reconmovie.com, #ReconMovie.
Anyone over the age of 25 was likely forever scarred by the combination of a creepy TV theme song and the voice of a classic film actor telling us about how we could be living our normal lives one moment, and then suddenly be abducted by aliens, shot by a stranger, or murdered by ghosts the next. Once you join the military, you might think you’re safe from being a walking potential story on Unsolved Mysteries. But you’d be wrong. The best you can really hope for is a quicker “update” segment.
1. Paul Whipkey
In Season 3, Episode 21, Unsolved Mysteries showed the story of Lt. Paul Whipkey, a promising young officer whose health was affected by the atomic testing projects he worked on. One day, he decided to drive to Monterey, Calif., just one mile from his base at Fort Ord. He disappeared and was never seen again.
His car was found abandoned in the middle of Death Valley. The Army says he was stressed about his assignment so he left the car and walked into the desert, where he likely died. His family and friends obviously take exception to this theory for a number of reasons.
First, the Army declared him a deserter and didn’t even begin searching for him or his body for eight months. His commander remembered Lt. Whipkey talking with plainclothes officials. The men had IDs but did not show which agency they represented. Whipkey then alluded to a career move, where he would “make a name for himself,” just before he disappeared.
Just 11 days later, Whipkey’s best friend Lt. Charlie Guess died in a plane crash, where his remains were found among plane wreckage different from the tail number of the plane he took off in.
Whipkey’s car was seen by locals after his disappearance, but it was driven by a man in uniform, which Whipkey was not wearing when he left the base. And next to the car was found was a pile of cigarette butts. Paul Whipkey did not smoke.
His family and friends believe Paul was recruited by the CIA to go one secret operations and that he likely died in the CIA’s service.
2. Edward Zakrzewski
This one was a pretty straightforward case, but when it first aired on the sixth episode of Unsolved Mysteries‘ seventh season, former USAF Tech. Sgt. Edward Zakzrewski was featured as a fugitive, wanted for the murder of his wife and two kids.
Zakzrewski and his wife were living in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. when she was found murdered to death on June 13, 1994 (according the the show, she was stabbed but the newspapers say she was bludgeoned with a crowbar). The two had been having marital problems and she was planning to leave him.
This story was creepy as hell when it first aired, but…
In season 7, episode 19, Unsolved Mysteries told us about Justin Bergwinkel, who went AWOL from the Army and was never seen again. He began language training for the Army Rangers, but washed out of the program before being sent to Fort Ord, California, where he became a cook.
He began dating a local student, Iolanda Antunes, and all seemed well for the most part. Until it wasn’t. He would drive to visit her but would randomly say he had to return to base. Other times, he would be bizarrely secretive about a briefcase he was always carrying.
Justin was soon transferred to Washington State, but would still come visit Iolanda. After Iolanda received a strange call telling Justin “the mission is off” he suddenly went back to his duty station. Things seemed to calm down. His parents were getting calls where he claimed to be doing well and that everything was fine. I think you can guess that things were not fine.
Burgwinkel purchased two handguns at this time, along 100 rounds of ammunition. On Friday, June 4, 1993, he failed to report for duty at 0430. He was declared AWOL but was not hiding. He called his duty section from Iolanda’s apartment. He called his parents and told them he was working and not AWOL – he was doing something important.
Eight days later, he left Iolanda’s apartment and never came back. He only ever alluded to the movie White Sands, a film about gunrunning, and then disappeared. His car was abandoned at a beachfront motel near Monterrey, where it had been for three months.
The briefcase with his wallet, car keys, and military ID were found in the trunk. He did not stay at the motel.
4. Chad Langford
The story of Spc. Langford was featured in Season 5, Episode 20. Langford was an MP stationed at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. On a pretty normal night, he was doing his usual patrol of the base when he radioed for assistance. When backup arrived, they found his radio, armband, and ID in the middle of the road. Down the street, Langford’s near-lifeless body was found outside his patrol car, shot in the head.
Langford’s sidearm lanyard was wrapped around his ankles, the radar cable around his neck, handcuffs on his left wrist, and his sidearm under his left shoulder. He died later that evening. The Army ruled it a suicide.
His family was outraged. Langford’s father Jim said he claimed to be doing undercover anti-drug stings for the Army. Fellow soldiers told Army criminal investigators that Chad was the ringleader of an attempt to rob the PX. The Army also maintained he was hurt about a recent breakup with his girlfriend and changed his lifestyle to fit a different narrative before taking his own life.
But his girlfriend says the breakup was initiated by Chad because his work was too much for him to share with her. When she last saw him, he was wearing different “gang-style” clothes and hanging with “unsavory” characters.
Chad’s family believes the evidence at the scene doesn’t match the Army’s story and that certain evidence, such as fingerprints and bullets to match the shell casings on the scene, was never found.
Though the Army reviewed the case after the broadcast, Chad Langford’s death remains officially a suicide.
5. Mark Dennis
In 1966, Corpsman Mark Dennis left Ohio for Vietnam. He thought it would be good for his future as a missionary. Dong Ha, Mark’s station, was a hotspot at the time. In July of that year, he was on a helicopter that was shot down with only three survivors. Mark was not one of them. The Navy suggested they not view his remains due to the condition of his body.
On Nov. 30, 1970, Newsweek published a photo of an unknown POW…one that looked just like Mark Dennis.
But the Navy determined it was someone else, a POW already documented. When the family requested his Navy death certificate, they found that Mark’s body was the only one not positively identified because it was burned beyond recognition. It was deemed Mark though the process of elimination.
That’s when Steve Wilcox, a Navy dental tech who was friends with Mark in boot camp, told the family of a friend from Mark’s unit. This friend told Wilcox that neither his corpsman material nor his dog tags were found in the crash and that there weren’t 13 bodies recovered.
The Dennis family then exhumed the body. The remains were covered by his uniform, and then a blanket. Pinned to the blanket was his dog tags, as per regulation. When his brother (a fire expert) examined the dog tag, he found them to be brand new and the burn markings inconsistent with a crash burn.
A privately-funded forensic analysis of the remains show a man five inches shorter than Mark Dennis. Furthermore, the body in the coffin was not burned by JP-4 fuel, but with regular gasoline. The family and his unit believe Mark never died that day.
Mark Dennis was not repatriated with other POWs when the war ended in 1973.
6. David Cox
This one is the true story of William Alvarado, who was nearly killed during a hazing incident, known as a “code red” for writing a Senator about Marine misconduct. You may recognize this story from A Few Good Men, because that’s movie based on these events.
The squad leader, David Cox, was convicted only of simple assault, claiming he was following an “implied order” from a superior officer. When the movie came out, he felt he was maligned in the film – after all, in real life, no one died. He and other Marines filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers.
As time passed, David moved in with his girlfriend and was hoping to get a job at UPS. That’s when he disappeared. One day, his girlfriend came home to find all the doors open, an uncashed paycheck in his truck, keys in the ignition, and a gun in the glove box.
Four months later, his body was found five miles from his apartment, cash and credit cards in his wallet. He was shot four times, execution style, while wearing his Marine Corps jacket (which he never wore). Investigators believe he knew his killer and went along willingly.
David’s mother warned he was too outspoken about U.S. activities in Cuba, especially in his high-profile days following the release of A Few Good Men. His former defense attorney believes his murder was related to the military, given the proximity to hunting ranges (where gunshots would be normal), and his choice of military attire.
The murder remains unsolved.
7. Joe O’Brien
Season 8, episode 1 brought us the story of Joe O’Brien, who had a vivid dream about being held prisoner in a cold cell, with only a striped blanket. His wrists were in terrible pain and even when he woke up, he found his hands sore and red.
Joe was worried about his friend Mohammed “Sammy” Mubarak, a Kuwaiti fighter pilot who was fighting in Operation Desert Storm. In the weeks following his vivid dream, Iraq surrendered.
Sammy came to visit Joe over Christmas the following year. Joe told Sammy of his strange dream and how the pain stayed with him for so long. Sammy told Joe his dream was Sammy’s reality – Sammy was held prisoner by the Iraqis on the same day.
Everything Joe saw in his dream, from the hand pain to the pattern of the blanket, was what Sammy lived as a POW.
He has also witnessed first-hand how much the blockbuster director respects the military — Pietruszewski was one of the vets sought out by Bay to work on the “Transformers” films. Bay goes out of his way to hire and cast veterans on his sets, in front of and behind the camera.
There’s a big difference between the military and the depiction of the military onscreen, but with Hollywood’s tendency to perpetuate military myths, it’s nice to know that big directors like Bay are leading the way in including the military in their films.
The regular NFL season is over now. Twelve teams are preparing for the postseason while twenty more are going back to the drawing board.
For most of our teams, the season will not end well. For some of us, our teams will be merely disappointing. Some will go down in flames. Others may even inexplicably snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The NFL has a lot in common with the military. Like a battle, football requires discipline, endurance, and teamwork. Each team has its own culture, fan base, trials, and tribulations. To celebrate the crowning glory of what is the most American of sports, we decided to make sense of the 2015-2016 season’s ups and downs by comparing the teams to military film and television characters.
Arizona Cardinals – Lt. Dan Taylor, Forrest Gump
The Cardinals are one of the NFL’s longest continual franchises who still don’t have a Super Bowl win. It’s like Lt. Dan’s family tradition of fighting in every major war: none of his ancestors lived long enough to see the big win. Maybe this time will be different?
Atlanta Falcons – Anthony “Swoff” Swofford, Jarhead
Everything started off so promising. A 5-0 start, the best since 2012. But it never really went anywhere. Like Swoff going through hell to become an elite Marine: When it came down to it, it was all for naught. Swoff never got to fire his rifle. The Falcons lost 8 of their last 11 games. Just… disappointing. But like the Marines returning to Iraq in 2003, there’s always next year.
Baltimore Ravens – Sgt. Barnes, Platoon
This unit lost man after man until everyone watching was filled with dread and a sense of pathos soured their crab cakes. After so many player losses went down, everything else went downhill too. Unit cohesion became a disaster and no one outside of Maryland shed a tear when they died. The Ravens are also notoriously paranoid.
Buffalo Bills – Chief Casey Ryback, Under Siege
If a team were represented by their fans at home games, the Bills would be Jeff Portnoy from Tropic Thunder. Luckily (and surprisingly) the Bills 8-8 season was much better than anyone expected, thanks in no small part to ex-Flacco backup Tyrod Taylor. Taylor’s performance can be likened to the ship’s cook of the USS Missouri, who was actually a Navy SEAL.
Carolina Panthers – Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley, We Were Soldiers
The Panthers had the second oldest average age of any team in the NFL, edged only by the Colts. Unlike the Colts’ geriatric gameplay, the Panthers’ translated into solid veteran status, going 15-1 and earning the #1 seed in the playoffs. No one is looking forward to running into Carolina in the postseason, nor should they be.
Chicago Bears – Pvt. Mellish, Saving Private Ryan
I’m only guessing here, but I bet this scene perfectly illustrates the experience of being a Bears fan and/or player throughout the 2015 season.
Cincinnati Bengals – Sgt. Nicholas Brody, Homeland
Are you really good? Is everything what it appears to be? It’s been so long. Can we tell for certain? There’s only one thing Cincinnati fans know for certain: No one trusts you. Also: Ginger. Also: Nice reg haircut.
Cleveland Browns – The Cast of Tropic Thunder, Tropic Thunder
Other teams have had worse records, other teams have their messes, but the Browns keep doing the same thing year after year: new coach, new QB, new outlook, same outcome. It’s like the Browns aren’t even an NFL team anymore. They’re more of a parody of football, skewering the entire culture of the NFL and its fandom. Unlike Tropic Thunder, there’s no happy ending.
Dallas Cowboys – PFC William Hudson, Aliens
A once-awesome team whose season started off with solid wins fell apart at the first sign of despair. And “despair” was the word of the season. Quarterback after quarterback would come to Dallas and meet their fate while the team struggled to keep it together long enough to pull in four total wins.
Denver Broncos – John Rambo, First Blood
The Broncos were quietly awesome in 2015. Not a lot of flair, the Broncos just went about their business trying to get to a Super Bowl. They weren’t amazing on offense for much of the season but like Rambo taking on some know-nothing cops in the woods, the defense demolished offenses one-by-one, losing only four games with three of those by one score or less.
Detroit Lions – Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
No one really dislikes the Lions. We don’t really understand them either. For many of us, they’re like a family member, in that we see them once in a while and they always show up to Thanksgiving. They definitely aren’t stupid and they show us all the time the amazing things they’re capable of doing. And just like Forrest Gump, they aren’t winning a Super Bowl anytime soon.
Green Bay Packers – Capt. Jimmy Wilder, Independence Day
Jimmy had confident leadership with an obvious record of success. Unfortunately, he just didn’t have what it takes to survive til the end. The Packers are much the same way. They have a chance to be Capt. Hiller if they can just keep their mask on, but they’re looking at a formidable wall of alien spaceship shaped like a giant Carolina Panther.
Houston Texans – Jean Rasczak, Starship Troopers
Maybe it’s just J.J. Watt, but the Texans always seem angry to me. Like if a Texan doesn’t play hard enough, Watt will hurt them himself. This might explain all their QB injuries.
Indianapolis Colts – Pvt. James Ryan, the beginning end of Saving Private Ryan
As of September’s cut down day, the Indianapolis Colts were the oldest team in the NFL, meaning oldest average age of its players, (and it’s not just because of Adam Vinatieri, age 43). And they played like it at times, going 8-8. Those eight wins were against teams with a losing record and within one score against teams with a winning record. Extra points awarded for never giving up.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Capt. James T. Kirk, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Blame this on ownership. When owners change, the team should change a bit. Owner Shahid Khan has had years to get something going for the people of Jacksonville, who paid $63 million in upgrades for the stadium in 2013 only to receive a Jacksonville team with a record of 3-13. Everyone should be screaming about this.
Kansas City Chiefs – John Rambo, Rambo III
They seemed reluctant at first but around week seven the Chiefs decided they had enough. With the gusto of Rambo going to rescue Col. Trautman, they demolished the perennial favorites Broncos and Steelers and trounced a resurgent Bills. This team who started 1-5 very nearly won the conference championship.
Miami Dolphins – Robert E. Lee, Gettysburg
Because no one lives in the past like the Miami Dolphins.
Minnesota Vikings – Sgt. 1st Class Sanderson, Black Hawk Down
Just as skilled and capable as Norm “Hoot” Hooten, but not nearly as interesting. The Vikings were able to beat the Chiefs once this season, but really spent Sundays taking down Chargers, Lions, and Bears most of the time. Still a winner, but not a Hoot.
New England Patriots – Chris Kyle, American Sniper
Some people love you, some people hate you. None of that matters, because you’re among the best there is whether they like you or not.
New Orleans Saints – The entire cast of The Alamo
It turns out defense is pretty important. No one proves that more than the Saints.
New York Giants – Col. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
Watching the Giants’ 2015 season was like watching a once-formidable force just begging to be put out of its misery.
New York Jets – Capt. Virgil Hilts, The Great Escape
Being the only team with a winning record to not make the playoffs is like escaping from a Nazi prison camp on a motorcycle, only to be captured on the Swiss border. They were so close, only to be sent back to the cooler.
Oakland Raiders – Maximus Decimus Meridius, Gladiator
An old man dies and now once great team is surrounded by people rejected by the everyone else and all they can think about is moving to the Coliseum.
Philadelphia Eagles – Capt. Dave “Captain America” McGraw, Generation Kill
No team’s on- and off-field behavior draws more head shaking than Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Animal Mother, Full Metal Jacket
Full of guts, but no ideals: The Steelers snuck into the playoffs after a lucky Jets loss gave them the edge. You have to respect Animal Mother, though. He’s there because he knows how to do what he’s been trained to do and he’s good at it. Just like Pittsburgh.
St. Louis Rams – Nick, The Deer Hunter
St. Louis fans have seen seasons like this so often, they must be mentally broken by now. Every year, the talk of the Rams moving to LA has to wear on both the fans and the team. If they don’t move this year, spin the barrel for another 7-9 season and see what happens when you pull the trigger.
San Diego Chargers – Capt. Herbert Sobel, Band of Brothers
It’s not that the Chargers lack the will to succeed. It’s just that they lack the skill to succeed. So they’ll be moved somewhere which might be a better fit. Currahee!
San Francisco 49ers – Sgt. Elias, Platoon
The days of the 49ers being a “nice” team are over, and probably have been for a long time. Like the death of everything Sgt. Elias represented in Platoon, we can probably count on the 49ers becoming more and more desperate to do whatever it takes to win as time goes on.
Seattle Seahawks – Maverick, Top Gun
Seattle is eminently likable despite a few personality flaws, flaws which led the them through the team’s ups and downs this season. Despite those few losses, the Seahawks are still among the best there is.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Pvt. Timothy Upham, Saving Private Ryan
The ultimate letdown. Sure, they have a much-talked-about leader but they also have all the skills they don’t need. When the time came to do or die, Upham didn’t even have the nerve to die. There’s always next year, but some of the guys on their roster won’t be around for it. Whose fault is that?
Tennessee Titans- PFC Blackburn, Black Hawk Down
You fell out of a helicopter before the fighting even started and you stayed down the whole time. You brought a lot of people down with you. A new QB made everyone feel like the Titans were a new, fresh team. There was hope. Then it all became a mess. Also, all the football references in Black Hawk Down are great reminders of the Titans’ most famous one yard line play.
Washington Redskins – The 54th Massachusetts Infantry, Glory
No one expected much from Washington this year. Despite every bad thing said about them, the Voldemorts of the NFL showed up to play every game of the season, finishing 9-7 and winning the NFC East. In their next battle, they’ll be mercilessly thrown at a formidable opponent and their leader will probably be taken down with them.
Bravery is a thing you see every day in the military. In all branches, in moments great and small, it’s an expression of the fundamental courage it takes to put your life on the line for love of country and to serve those you swore to protect.
Former Navy SEAL David Meadows proved exemplary in this capacity, serving 11 years in some of the harshest theaters of war throughout the Middle East.
But unlike many of his fellow Oscar Mike alumni, Meadows chose, upon reentry, to translate his habituated bravery into a civilian arena that would, honestly, make most servicemen and women want to crawl out of their natural born skins…
Yeah, he became an actor.
And we can tell you from experience that there are few professions that require a more constant personal brokerage with public shame, mortal embarrassment, insecurity, and rejection — in short, all of the types of feelings that normal people avoid like their lives depend on it.
Being the Special Ops-trained bad ass that he is, though, Meadows surveyed this new theater of war and then dove in head first. Acting for a living takes guts.
“I think that if there is a magic left in the world…it’s really for a person to be affected, to be changed — by one human being actually affecting somebody else on a really human, natural, soulful level. Does that make sense? And performing artists have that power. And I thought…that’s absolutely amazing. And I want to be a part of that.”
To get a taste of the kind of courage an actor has to muster every day, Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis visited Meadows at his acting studio in Los Angeles and submitted himself to a battery of drills that actors employ to help them behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Each exercise is designed to increase physical sensitivity, dial up emotional availability, and to inure actors to the fear of ridicule that can shut them down at crucial moments. Like all high-stakes training, it’s effective — but it ain’t pretty.
Today’s lesson is clear: in a successful civilian life, emotional bravery matters. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can just watch as Curtis cracks under the pressure and and begs to postpone the big payoff in the video embedded at the top.
“The Boys” is a hit for Amazon Prime Video, which announced earlier this month that the series is one of the platform’s most watched shows ever. But the new superhero TV series wouldn’t exist if its source material hadn’t been saved from an early cancellation.
“The Boys” comic book ran for 72 issues from 2006 to 2012. It was created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson, who had previously collaborated on “The Punisher Max” and had made names for themselves individually in the industry with such works as “Preacher” and “Transmetropolitan,” respectively.
Robertson told Business Insider during an interview Aug. 19, 2019, that “The Boys” was originally going to be set within the DC Comics universe that includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more.
But the book’s irreverent premise — a group of government operatives keep a check on superheroes who abuse their powers — didn’t quite mesh with the colorful and heroic adventures at DC. So Ennis and Robertson created their own group of “heroes” that satirized preexisting ones, such as the alien Homelander (think Superman) and the super-speedster A-Train (think The Flash).
The superhero team The Seven from “The Boys.”
(Dynamite Entertainment/Darick Robertson)
“We decided that it wouldn’t work if we tried to be too subtle about what the gag would be,” Robertson said. “I like the DC characters very much. I see a very distinct line between our characters and theirs. If you have the costume and the power but none of the character, you still don’t have Superman’s greatest power, which is self control. Homelander doesn’t even take the costume off. And that reveals a lot.”
“The Boys” launched at Wildstorm, a DC Comics imprint founded by DC’s now-copublisher Jim Lee that was set outside of the normal DC universe. Ennis and Robertson could tell their own story without sullying the reputation of DC’s flagship characters.
When the series was released, though, things changed.
“The problem was that Wildstorm was still a sub-company of DC Comics,” Robertson said. “If you look at the original first issue of ‘The Boys’, it was peppered with ads for Batman and other stuff. I don’t think they realized just how hard of a punch Garth and I we’re going to land … I think it made people nervous that we were doing such a raunchy book that was advertising other DC properties.”
And it was indeed raunchy. The first issue of “The Boys” featured graphic language, sex, and violence that would become hallmarks of the series.
The cover to “The Boys” issue 1, released in 2006.
The Boys are saved
“The Boys” was canceled six issues into its run, despite strong sales.
“The comic was as big a hit as the show is now,” Robertson said. “For the world of comics, we were doing quite well. It was selling out. It was a weird time in the industry where it would sound like a laughable number now, but it was good then, especially for a creator-owned, mature book.”
Robertson said that DC would continue publishing the book if the subject matter were toned down, or it would offer it back to Ennis and Robertson for them to take it somewhere else.
Toning it down wasn’t an option.
“It was a gracious way to solve the problem,” Robertson said. “In another scenario, it could have been a nightmare and the book could have died.”
Robertson said that Ennis knew from the beginning how the series would end and had a five-year plan. But they suddenly had nowhere to go with their story.
“I had just bought a home, I had two children,” he said. “I had set up the next five years just to do this book, so I didn’t know what to do.”
(Dynamite Entertainment/Darick Robertson)
The feeling didn’t last long. Living in California and now out of work, Robertson took his family to Disneyland for a weekend after the cancellation in January 2007. The following Monday, his phone blew up.
“Everyone had found out we were canceled and every publisher I knew in the business was calling us saying they wanted the book,” Robertson recalled. “It was amazing. We just wanted to make sure we ended up at the place where we had the most control.”
Dynamite Entertainment ended up being that place. Mere weeks after the cancellation, the company announced it would renew “The Boys.” It returned that May with issue seven and Dynamite quickly released a collection of the first six issues.
“That’s another reason we parted with DC was because they were reluctant to publish the trade paperback, and that’s where the bread and butter is,” Robertson said. “Dynamite got that out immediately and it was the number one trade paperback as soon as it hit. It sold out and immediately went to a second printing.”
That’s when Hollywood came calling.
‘The comic and the film property followed similar lives’
By 2008, producer Neal Moritz, known for the “Fast and Furious” franchise, took notice of the book’s popularity. Robertson said Mortiz championed a film adaptation and shopped the project around to studios for years.
“I learned the hard way that getting an option is easy and getting something made is not,” Robertson said. “It’s the way Hollywood works. Having an option is lovely, but it doesn’t mean a project will go forward. So we got our hearts broken a few times, especially because the people that were coming on board were wonderful.”
One of those people was Adam McKay, who was then known for directing “Anchorman” and has since directed Oscar-nominated movies “The Big Short” and “Vice.”
Columbia Pictures was originally on board and then ditched the project. Paramount picked it up in 2012, but it never went forward there, either. A big-budget R-rated deconstruction of the superhero genre proved to be a hard sell.
“Everyone was terrified of it,” Robertson said. “It’s funny, because the comic and the film property followed similar lives. McKay was on board and we were sure it would happen any day, but we just couldn’t get any studio to give the green light. For me it would be life-changing so I just kept hoping it would happen, and it never did.”
Karl Urban and Jack Quaid in “The Boys.”
(Amazon Prime Video)
Flash forward seven years and “The Boys” has finally found a new home at Amazon, just on the small screen instead of the big screen. But even the TV series faced a climb.
“There’s a lot of production value, but in the same respect, there’s never enough money,” Kripke said. “We didn’t have anything close to a ‘Game of Thrones’ budget or anything like that. We’re not even half of what that number would be. But when you don’t have all the money in the world, you get there through blood and tears.”
And “The Boys” TV show has already avoided the temporary fate of the comic. There will be no early cancellation. Amazon renewed the series for a second season before season one even debuted.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Landing Home takes you right into the trenches, forcing you to acknowledge the impacts of America’s 20-year war. Viewers must confront the reality of veterans struggling after they return home.
Douglas Taurel plays Luke, an Army veteran returning home after serving in Afghanistan. Taurel himself is best known for his gripping one-man play, The American Soldier, in which he plays multiple characters, bringing the viewer from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in the Middle East. The play itself and all of his unforgettable relationships built with veterans of every walk of life inspired Landing Home.
The child of Jewish Argentinian immigrants, he grew up with his father who was in love with America and her promises. A deep love he passed to his son.
“The thing that got me going was being involved in 9/11. I was coming out of the second tower when that second plane hit it,” Taurel shared. “I couldn’t join [the military] because I was blind in my left eye. But that’s what got me involved in working with veterans.”
Taurel began furiously reading and following America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While researching other wars he read letters from soldiers who’d been involved in all of America’s conflicts, describing their experiences. As he was reading, he made a shocking revelation. They were all the same, whether it was written during the Civil War or modern times, the struggles of these veterans couldn’t be differentiated. That discovery led him on a six-year journey to creating The American Soldier.
But he wasn’t done yet.
“The series really came from the QA we always have after the play. Vets would come up to me after the show and share their stores. Everyone always said ‘you have to turn this into a movie’,” Taruel said. While he didn’t think it was feasible to fit all his characters into a movie, he decided to create a modern soldier who embodied those characters for a web series.
Taurel wanted it to be a real and true compilation of all of the veteran stories he’d been privy to. On set, 17 of the cast and crew were veterans themselves. Launched through Vimeo, the first episode is an immediate poignant reminder of how difficult reintegration is for veterans. Something as simple as a birthday party is overwhelming for a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Landing Home brings viewers along on the journey of a former soldier trying to reintegrate into civilian life. The obvious struggle Luke walks through is a heartbreaking reminder of the cost of war, as his story is an accurate depiction of a true veteran. Each episode is filled with moments that bring you deep inside to feel the effects of combat.
“We have a history as a nation of not taking care of our veterans, that goes back to the Revolution,” Taurel said. “It is a beautiful country, but it has been paid in blood. If we honored our veterans more, we’d think about war a whole lot differently. It’s easy to go to war when you aren’t involved.”
There’s another scene, in a bar that stands out. Luke is obviously struggling and an older gentleman sits beside him. A quiet and heavy silence sits in the air. Then the man says, “Where did you serve?” This moment stands out because one veteran immediately knew another and their fight, on sight.
“We owe our veterans so much. I think we’ve become selfish as a country. We’ve forgotten the people who have given us the liberties and freedoms we have,” Taurel explained. He continued, “That’s why I do the projects that I have, I want people to understand what service really means.”
The series does not hold back. The raw and true compilations of the experiences of America’s veterans in Landing Home will move you. Taurel hopes that viewers walk away with a deep understanding of what “Thank you for your service” really means.
You can watch Landing Home by going to Vimeo. To learn about the other work Taurel is involved in, click here.
A US Army spokesman told INSIDER that the fan had a point but that calculating the exact dollar amount isn’t so simple.
Here’s the backstory.
After defeating Hydra in World War II, Captain America was lost in the Arctic north from 1945 to 2011. During those six decades on ice, he was never technically discharged. As a result (the theory goes), the government owes him payment for those 66 years of service.
Redditor Anon33249038 crunched the numbers and concluded that the First Avenger is entitled to $3,154,619.52, adjusting for inflation.
The analysis factors in the Army’s 1945 pay grade, biannual raises, and how long Cap spent on ice before he returned to active duty in 2011 at the start of “The Avengers.”
Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman, says there’s more to it than that.
“If Capt. Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) were not a fictional character and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and recovery actually real, he may actually be entitled to receive back pay,” Hall told INSIDER in an email. “However, a wide variety of variables would have to be taken into consideration to actually calculate the true amount of back pay to which he would be entitled to receive; given that he is a fictional character we cannot truly capture all of those variables accurately.”
Hall went on to say that the Redditor had some of his facts wrong.
“Yes, it is correct that the O-3 (Army captain) pay grade in 1945 was $313.50; however it was a monthly pay rate vs. quarterly as the original poster indicated.”
The fan theory also “misinterpreted military pay scales” when arriving at the figure for the biannual increase of pay, Hall said, and failed to take in “any potential promotions that may have been bestowed upon Rogers while he was listed in a ‘Missing’ status.”
Whatever the final amount of back pay the government would owe Captain America for his decades of service, it’s almost certain that he would still have way less money than Tony Stark.
Horror films are ripe with terrible tropes that make audiences groan. Invariably, plucky young adults are pinned against a supernatural or monstrous force. So long as these young adults aren’t idiots (like the morons who decided to go skinny-dipping as people were being slowly picked off), they can survive until the third act — and then they’ll either live or die, depending on whether the hero or the featured monster is more marketable.
The most infuriating tropes, however, happen when the military shows up. In far too many movies, troops and veterans are cast as inherently evil or constantly in search of using the protagonist as a means of starting a world war. In reality, we’d probably be the ones organizing a survival movement against the big bad — but I digress…
We’ll save ripping those films for another time. There are many horror films out there that actually do the military justice and treat us like fully developed characters instead of mindless, B-movie villains — like these classics:
‘Throne of Blood’
Starting off the list is the Akira Kurosawa 1957 classic, Throne of Blood. While his other films (including Roshomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo) receive near-universal praise, it was his re-imagining of Shakespeare’s MacBeth that gave him his first inroad to a western audience. And when we say “re-imagining,” we mean that Kurosawa’s version is about samurai who learns of the future from a spider witch — that’s what Shakespeare was really trying to say, right?
Its central plot doesn’t involve many true-horror moments, as modern Western audiences know, but the early moments when General Washizu goes into the Forest of the Spider’s Web heavily influenced later horror films. His reaction to all the spookiness is a stern “listen here, witch” — which perfectly captures how any service member would react in that situation.
Rarely do filmmakers delve into the actual spooky side of Afghanistan. Ask anyone who’s ever pulled a 12-hour night guard duty shift and have them tell you what it’s like to stare out over a place that earned the nickname, “Graveyard of Empires.”
This indie film, made by Daniel Myrick, the same writer and director of The Blair Witch Project, begins like any other war film about the post-9/11 Global War on Terrorism, but then it makes a sharp turn into the paranormal. The troops’ response? Let’s f*cking kill it.
‘Day of the Dead’
It’s remade every so often, but nothing can compare to the original Day of the Dead by George A. Romero. Unlike most films in the military-horror genre, this one actually understand that troops want nothing to do with zombies as a weapon of war. Why on Earth would we risk doing something that stupid? We can’t even go into a combat zone without a shiny, reflective belt, for f*ck’s sake.
But I digress. The film does include nefarious scientists who try to weaponize zombies at the expense of the soldier’s safety, but troops react how you’d actually expect them to if they were test subjects for flesh-eating zombies.
While not outright a military film, it does feature Kurt Russel as a veteran helicopter pilot from the Vietnam War. This vet, R.J. MacReady, naturally assumes a leadership positions and gets to thinking logically to overcome an incredibly elusive, deceptive foe.
While the “Thing” inhabits others’ bodies and everyone starts losing their minds, MacReady’s quick thinking helps him survive the film.
Never has a film bitter mixed action and horror quite like 1987’s Predator. It had everything: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers in their primes, a truckload of firepower, and muscles on top of their muscles — not to mention an antagonist so brutal that he picks off Special Forces soldiers like a hunter taking out deer. It’s so well done that it doesn’t matter to me that, as a commo guy, the group’s radio operator is the first named character killed off — which is another one of my most-hated cinema tropes.
The titular foe uses the military’s tactics against them by being better at hiding (albeit by using technology) than the Green Berets. The only way to stop it, in the end, was to beat it in one of the most brutally awesome hand-to-hand fights in cinema history.
Well, there’s that, and there’s Schwarzenegger’s delivery of his most iconic line — “Get to the choppah!”
We all know the line: “With great power comes great responsibility,” but what about the person who said it? For most fans of the character of Spider-Man, that line comes from Ben Parker, better known as “Uncle Ben,” the guy who raised Peter Parker in most versions of the backstory, and most famously, the Sam Raimi films starring Tobey Maguire. However, since the reintroduction of Tom Holland as Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Uncle Ben hasn’t been around. That is, until now! There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter egg that references Uncle Ben in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Here’s the deal.
Mild spoilers ahead.
As Peter is packing for his school “science trip” to Europe, the initials on his briefcase are seen very clear: BFP. We’re not sure what the “F” stands for, but it’s pretty clear the “B” and the “P” can only mean Ben Parker. Thematically, this is interesting because in the new Marvel movies Tony Stark has effectively become Peter’s Uncle Ben-figure; an older male mentor who dies and passes along wisdom to Peter. (Note: this scene was in the trailers! So this really isn’t a spoiler!)
This presents a strange question: what happened to this Uncle Ben? The suitcase could just be a fun visual reference, but this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe we’re talking about here. Random, throwaway lines can have huge implications in later movies. And, because Far From Home brought back J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson from the Tobey Maguire movies, it seems like a bunch of stuff from older superhero movies is suddenly on the table.
In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man went in search of his biological parents in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which makes you wonder how long it’s going to take for Tom Holland’s version of the web crawler to do the same.
Uncle Ben- With Great Power Comes Great responsiblities–HD
Hollywood has a tendency to mess up uniforms, customs, and tactical thinking when it comes to military movies.
But they sure know how to give us quote-worthy characters. From the masterful intro speech of “Patton” to the character of Hoot in “Black Hawk Down,” these are the films that we remember for having characters with great dialogue.
We picked out some of our favorite quotes from classic military films. Here they are.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
In Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”, the actors were mentored by the type of warfighters they portray in the film in order to accurately depict their abilities and experiences. Each of these men was a member of an elite group called the Global Response Staff, which draws from the full suite of special operations units.
We Are The Mighty partnered with “13 Hours” to bring together spec ops vets of each branch to discuss the differences between Army Rangers and Green Berets, Air Force Pararescuemen, Navy SEALs, and Marine Recon.
Their explanations are specific and nuanced and explained as only those who’ve “been there and done that” can.
It’s one of the coolest moments in medieval fantasy films. A blacksmith sweats over the forge, slowly pouring bright-orange, molten iron into an open-topped stone mold of a mighty sword while the audience watches a cool shot of the weapon taking shape.
Go ahead and toss in a shot of the warrior looking on with joy, let the audience watch as they quench the hot blade in snow, a person, or whatever, and presto, our hero has a neat toy for the next scene.
It’s too bad that this isn’t how any of it’s done in real life — and if it were, it’d be a sign of terrible craftsmanship.
The switch to iron and steel meant that they could make weapons longer without sacrificing durability. Which is important when you’re trying to stab someone without getting stabbed.
(Picture by J.J. Luder)
First, it should be stated that there’s a huge difference between casting a weapon and forging one. Back in the Bronze Age, before blacksmiths knew any better, they would take molten bronze and pour it into a stone cast to create a battle-ready weapon. This is casting.
Bronze was made from mixing copper and tin. For blacksmiths in 1200 BCE, this wasn’t a problem as both were abundant enough. Mankind had known about iron for hundreds of years at this point, but using it required a tremendous effort to create a product that was on par with bronze alternatives. When it was discovered that just a bit of carbon could turn the Earth’s most abundant metal into steel, they embraced the challenge.
Steel makes for stronger, more durable weapons, so blacksmiths began using this metal instead, but the process required was much different. To create something, smiths needed to forge it, starting from a blank (or piece of metal) that was the relative size of the weapon they intended to make, heating it, and painstakingly hammering it into shape.
No matter how cool of an opening scene this is, it’s still kinda of wrong.
It’s not impossible to cast iron weapons — but the process will yield a cheap, crude weapon. This works for the Uruk-hai Orcs of The Lord of the Rings, but it’s just not practical for anyone else. This is also how most cheapo swords that medieval fans have on their walls are made. For decorative weaponry, that’s fine, but the blade would probably snap in half given just a bit of pressure.
When you pour the metal into the cast, it’s going to take shape of the mold. Which means that it’s only going to be half made when it’s done with an open-top cast. The other half of the sword will be flat when the metal hardens. If they were to rework the metal into a complete shape after that, it’d defeat the purpose of the mold all together.
If you want a durable weapon made out of anything but bronze and looks beautiful, you’re going to need to forge it. This process can take days — even just to get a standard-looking sword. You’re looking at weeks of master craftsmanship to get the caliber of weapons used by main characters.
Most films opt to go with the more cinematic approach. Bright-red liquid (fun side note: Molten iron heated to the point where it can be cast is actually more of a pale yellow. They’re using aluminum) looks cool when it takes form, but the actual process of making real weapons is far more impressive — even if it takes a lot longer than a montage.