It’s a good thing Tom Holland is so adorable because he gets away with SO MANY SPOILERS, especially about the new Spider-Man 3. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is renowned for keeping the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films under lock and key. Marvel films will restrict scripts and shoot alternate endings so not even the cast and crew know exactly how a film will end.
And then there’s Tom Holland, one of the youngest members of the cast, whose enthusiasm and authenticity have probably saved his life career.
If this is the first you’re hearing of this, here’s a short compilation of Tom Holland spoiling things:
So the MCU team decided to have a little fun with it. Fans had a hunch something was going on when Holland and fellow cast members Jacob Batalon and Zendaya began sharing images with fake titles for the third Spider-Man film:
The actual film title was finally revealed today: Spider-Man: No Way Home, and, showing their love and support for their spoiler-y lead, they released a little video poking some fun at Holland.
“They gave us a fake name again. I just don’t understand why they keep doing this,” laments Holland.
“You don’t understand? I feel like it’s pretty obvious. It’s because you spoil things,” retorts Batalon.
Marvel and Sony are obviously having some fun with their promotion efforts for what should be another great addition to Marvel’s expansive universe of films and projects.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is set to premiere Dec. 17, 2021.
By the time Nate Ellis reached the sixth grade he knew there were two things he wanted to do with his life: make movies and fly airplanes for the military.
Ellis was raised in a family with military experience. His father had joined the Coast Guard during the Vietnam era as a way to avoid the draft and his older brother had joined the Air Force ROTC program as a way to pay for college. He says he was the first among them to go in actually motivated to serve.
“All I wanted to do was Army aviation,” he said.
Ellis attended Austin Peay State University in Tennessee on a ROTC scholarship and wound up the top-ranked cadet nationwide among aviation selectees. Three days after graduation he found himself at Fort Rucker ready to start flight school. A year or so later he was a Blackhawk pilot.
In time he found himself in Afghanistan, stationed at Shindand Air Base in the western area of the country as part of the 4th CAB contingent there. He was assigned as the “battle captain,” overseeing all of the unit’s air operations, a position of great responsibility.
He was also flying Blackhawk sorties, and one night he launched as part of an air assault package comprised of three Blackhawks and two Chinooks. The helicopters carried a total of 99 troops — Italian special operators and Afghan National Army regulars — for a raid to capture a “high-value target,” one of the Taliban’s bad guys.
The helicopters touched down at the LZ around 3 AM, and after the troops jumped out they immediately came under fire. The helos took off and held nearby.
“We were at the holding point listening to the chaos, waiting, burning gas,” Ellis said. “It was the worst.”
There were two Apache attack helicopters on station, but one ran out of ammo and the other took an enemy round through the cockpit. The ground force, facing overwhelming numbers, wanted to get out of there immediately. But, by the helicopters’ operating procedures, it was too hot for them to fly back in to pick them up.
The mission commander, a lieutenant colonel, made the call to go in, but only after taking a quick survey of his fellow pilots over the radio to see what they thought about the risk.
“We went up and down the line, and all aircrews said they wanted to go in,” Ellis remembered. “But everyone was concerned at the same time. Everyone knew what they were getting into.”
The LZ was in the middle of a valley, what Ellis described as “the worst place to fly into.”
He saw the gunner in the Blackhawk ahead of him return fire on a group behind a wall as his own gunner froze, unable to pull the trigger. Sixty of the troops came running at them trying to load up. The Blackhawk only had room for 12 of them, so Ellis’ crew chief heroically jumped out and sorted the situation out as the bullets landed around them. After “the longest 3 minutes of my life,” they lurched back into the air at the Blackhawk’s maximum takeoff weight.
“Because we were heavy we couldn’t yank and bank,” Ellis said. “We had to fly straight ahead. My missile warning gear was going off the whole time.”
Once he was out of harm’s way, he had an epiphany.
“I was more present than I ‘d ever been in my life,” he said. “It was like all of the bullshit in my life came to the surface and skimmed off. I heard my inner voice: ‘Life is short. Live with a purpose. Do what you love.'”
And Ellis realized — along with flying Army helicopters — that he loved making movies, something he’d continue to dabble in even during the most demanding parts of his military life.
“I was always working on something while I was in,” Ellis said. “Short films — writing and directing. I’d edit them on my computer and post them to YouTube or wherever.”
After his war tour, he was stationed in South Korea while his marriage to another Army helicopter pilot came apart. “Long story short, we were separated for 18 months,” he said.
He was ready for a change in his life. So after 7 years of active duty, he resigned his commission and entered USC to get a master’s degree in filmmaking. While he immersed himself in the curriculum, he also found himself processing a lot of anger.
“I’d lose my temper if somebody jumped in front of me at a bar or cut me off in traffic,” he admitted. “I felt this sense of entitlement, like, who are they to treat me like that? Don’t they know who I am and what I’ve done?”
By his own account, it took him three years of grad school to process his emotions.
“I don’t want to be that person,” he said. “I don’t want to feel that way. Now it’s more like who cares? That guy, that girl, they have their own thing going on. They have their own path.”
He made a name for himself among the talented grad students at USC. He created five short films, including “10,000 Miles,” his thesis film that had a $30,000 budget plus a $350,000 Panavision grant.
Ellis also made “The Fog,” which he describes as “very personal,” another short that won a faculty screenwriting award and “Best Narrative Short” at the 2016 GI Film Festival. “The Fog” was also a semi-finalist for the student Academy Awards.
Ellis left USC with an impressive body of work, and an effective Hollywood network that included his USC-assigned mentor who also happened to be the president of a major studio. With his master’s degree in hand, he’s wasted little time in making some things happen. He wrote a screenplay based on “Chickenhawk,” the classic Vietnam-era story about a helicopter pilot, and he said Harrison Ford is “interested.”
At the same time, he worked as a production assistant on “The Wall,” directed by Doug Liman (who also directed “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Bourne Identity”), wrote another screenplay targeting both Chinese and American audiences, and co-created an animated web series called “Thrift Video” that he described as “‘Adult Swim’-type humor.”
And, somewhat ironically, Ellis’ work in Hollywood placed him behind the controls of a helicopter again.
“My USC mentor introduced me to the president of Studio Wings, Steve Stafford, a Marine vet,” he explained. “I’ve been flying a Huey, one of the types of helicopters I flew during my time in the Army.”
And the Studio Wings Huey is owned by one Vince Gilligan, the creator of the hit series “Breaking Bad.” Ellis and Gilligan have co-piloted the Huey on several occasions.
“Vince is a super-nice guy and very interested in my active duty experience,” Ellis said. “He’s also interested in my screenplay.”
Ellis is quickly learning that success in the movie business is about two things: who you know and how much talent you have.
“All this stuff is just coming out of the blue,” Ellis said. “But I love the non-linear aspect of Hollywood. You’re thrown into the big mix with everybody. How do you set yourself apart?”
Ellis has also learned when and where to leverage his military experience and the limits of it.
“The whole reason I’m flying helicopters with Vince Gilligan is because I flew helicopters in the Army,” he said. “But after that, it’s about the quality of my work.”
“Your instructor is one of the finest fighter pilots this program has ever produced. His exploits are legendary. What he has to teach you may very well mean the difference between life and death.” These are the words used to describe Maverick in one of the trailers for the upcoming Top Gunsequel. While some people question the sense of having an O-6 who is pushing 60 years of age serve as a TOPGUN instructor, he is actually one of the best teachers that the Navy could possibly have.
1. He’s had years of experience
Who would’ve thought that we’d see Maverick wearing scrambled eggs? (Paramount Pictures)
According to the Top Gun: Maverick trailer, our favorite hotshot fighter pilot had been serving for over 30 years. While Maverick’s rebellious nature has kept from achieving a Flag Officer rank, it has also kept him in the cockpit and behind the stick longer.
No, he wouldn’t make a good instructor at the Naval War College and he probably doesn’t have the tact (or patience) to play politics in Washington; but TOPGUN is a Fighter Weapons School. As Cmdr. Mike “Viper” Metcalf said to Maverick’s class, “We don’t make policy here gentlemen. Elected officials, civilians, do that. We are the instruments of that policy.” Who better to teach you to fly your fighter plane to the edge of the envelope than a pilot who has spent his entire career behind the controls?
2. He learned teamwork and emotional intelligence through loss and combat
People learn and mature; even Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Yes, at the beginning of Top Gun, Maverick is arrogant, self-centered and immature. He’s cocky and overly confident, even after he’s outperformed by Iceman and lectured by Jester. However, after losing Goose during their flat spin incident, Maverick is taken down a few pegs and loses his edge. It’s worth noting that before the incident, Maverick and Goose were only two points behind Iceman and Slider in the competition for the TOPGUN trophy. Despite his performance slipping at the end of the course, Maverick still accumulates enough points to graduate with his class.
Following graduation, Maverick along with Iceman, Slider, Hollywood and Wolfman, are ordered to the USS Enterprise to fly fighter cover for an operation to rescue the intelligence-gathering vessel SS Layton. Afterman Hollywood and Wolfman are shot down by enemy MiGs, Maverick and Merlin are launched to provide backup for Iceman and Slider who are fighting for their lives against five enemy aircraft. Horrible odds for any pilot, Maverick manages to snap out of his funk and engages the enemy. Remembering Jester’s words, Maverick refuses to abandon his wingman, even when an enemy MiG gets behind him.
Emerging from the engagement victorious, Maverick and Iceman’s rivalry turns into a bond of trust, the likes of which can only be formed in the crucible of combat. “You are still dangerous,” Iceman tells Maverick. “But you can be my wingman anytime.” Following the intense aerial battle, Maverick also learns to let go of Goose’s death. He no longer feels overly responsible for his RIO and throws Goose’s dogtags off the back of the carrier; a beautifully symbolic move, but not one that Goose’s son is likely to be pleased with. Admittedly, Maverick still had some growing up to do as a junior officer.
3. He has been in a dogfight and has aerial kills to his name
Very few fighter pilots in the 21st century have scored kills in aerial combat and even fewer are Naval Aviators. The shootdown of a Syrian Su-22 by a Navy F/A-18E in 2017 was the first US air-to-air kill since an Air Force F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 during the Kosovo campaign in 1999.The last Navy F-14 kill took place in 1991 when a Tomcat shot down an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter with a Sidewinder shot.
During their engagement at the end of Top Gun, Iceman emerged from a dogfight against five MiGs with one kill under his belt; an impressive feat considering he was forced to fly defensively. Maverick, on the other hand, scored three aerial kills. Just two kills shy of becoming the Navy’s first ace since Vietnam, Maverick earned his kills in close-quarters fighting. This factor adds to the impressiveness of his victories since the F-14A was more adept at intercepting Soviet bombers at long range with its powerful radar and Phoenix missiles than it was an dogfighting.
“Though the Tomcat was technically a fighter plane, it wasn’t really designed for the visual BFM arena,” Tomcat pilot Francesco “Paco” Chierici remembered. “It had a number of elements working against it when it came to dogfighting.” Besides its large size, Paco also notes that the A-model Tomcat was underpowered for maneuvering fights. Maverick was able to score three kills in a dogfight against a numerically superior enemy that was flying a smaller and more maneuverable aircraft than his. Any fighter pilot would be lucky to learn from an aviator like him.
Clearly he can still pass his flight physical (Paramount Pictures)
Despite his age, Maverick is still fit enough to fly, and fly well. After all, he’s still able to pull off his signature evasive maneuver. In the trailers, we even see him behind the controls of what appears to be some sort of high-speed experimental aircraft. Maverick returns to the skies in Top Gun: Maverick, releasing in theaters on July 2, 2021.
He was injured while serving as an Infantry Officer during Vietnam, and after months of surgeries and recovery, he extended his commitment to teach counterinsurgency tactics before finally separating.
Deep down, Smallwood is a soulful artist. An actor, writer, singer, and musician, he has made a career for himself in theater and on-screen, but it’s his writing and his music that really makes him stand out.
We Are The Mighty sat down with him to talk about his relationship with music.
“I can hear some music and know the setting behind it, and it just goes straight to my part that feels.”
He couldn’t speak when he woke up in the hospital in Vietnam, but rest assured, his voice healed and transformed into something rich and soothing.
Check out his video, not only for the Battle Mix that makes him think of his time in service, but for a performance with his acoustic guitar that will leave you wanting more:
For years, gamers have joked among themselves, saying that because they kick ass with a virtual rifle in Call of Duty, they’re probably a good shot in real life. Well, two former Special Forces operators decided to take two professional gamers to the gun club to test that theory.
Our two Special Forces operators really need no introduction to the veteran community: Navy SEAL Mikal Vega and Marine Corps sniper David Lonigro.
Vega served 22 years in the Navy, working with EOD and the SEAL teams. Lonigro spent six years in a Marine Corps special operations unit as a sniper and went on multiple combat deployments.
These two motivators went up against a 12-time World Champion gamer in Jonathan Wendel and a Call of Duty pro that goes by the screen name RUNJDRUN.
Because Lonigro and Vega are team players, they gave the gamers a few pointers during a practice round before the real thing commenced. As the timed contest opened, each competitor fired at two different targets, attempting to score accurate kill shots using six rounds total.
First, Wendel took aim and squeezed off his controlled rounds a 67 percent accuracy at a speed of 3.15 seconds.
On deck next was RUNJDRUN, who also fired at 67 percent accuracy, but at a speed of 4.03. This effort was followed by Vega, who nailed his two targets with 100 percent accuracy at a rate of 4.03 seconds.
Finally, Marine veteran and talented sniper David Lonigro ended the day with 100 percent accuracy, but had the slowest time of 5.23 seconds. However, snipers are trained to wait to take the shot, so maybe Lonigro used that as a tactical advantage.
Ultimately (and unsurprisingly), the veterans won the shooting competition.
Check out BuzzFeed’s Video below to watch the exciting competition for yourself:
For nearly half a decade, life seemed to contain three certainties: death, taxes, and Star Wars movies making ungodly amounts of money at the box office. But a year ago, that all changed when Solo, the origin story of the smuggler-turned-hero of the rebellion, came to theaters and failed to make an impression at the box office, struggling to cross $200 million at the domestic box office. It was an unprecedented financial failure for the franchise, causing Disney to halt several planned spin-offs, including the long-rumored Obi-Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor.
Yet despite flopping at the box office, Solo was a critical hit that clearly resonated with at least some of the massive Star Wars fanbase. And on the anniversary of the film’s release, fans decided to take to Twitter and advocate for a second dose of everyone’s favorite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder with the hashtag #MakeSolo2Happen.
Before long, thousands of users were expressing their support for the hypothetical sequel.
Several fans speculated about a potential plot for Solo 2, such as Han and Lando teaming up to do a dangerous job for Jabba the Hutt.
Some suggested making it into a TV show on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.
A few people even admitted that while they didn’t enjoy Solo at first, they’d come to appreciate it upon rewatch.
And, of course, many people just wanted a chance to see Darth Maul back in action after his surprise cameo in Solo.
Is it likely that this hashtag activism will actually help a Solo sequel get made? Probably not but it’s still nice to see this forgotten Star Wars film get some love from fans and, at the very least, it’s clearly not destined to become a cultural punchline like the highly divisive prequels.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
When you talk about a career after military service, oftentimes the conversation veers toward opening a small business, going back to school for a degree or entering the corporate world.
But for a select few, it can mean more of the same — and sometimes a lot more than they’d ever bargained for.
That’s what happened to Bill Fulton when he left the Army after an accident blew out his knees. Not satisfied that his days of working with soldiers would be over, Fulton started a military surplus business in the wilds of Alaska.
And he had no idea just how wild it would eventually get.
Dubbed the “Drop Zone,” Fulton’s store in Anchorage eventually became a kind of sanctuary for fellow vets — sharpshooting hippies, crew-cutted fundamentalists, PTSD sufferers — all seeking purpose and direction.
But the Last Frontier is vast wilderness, the perfect refuge for fugitives, and the perfect place for vets itching for a mission. So Fulton and his crew formed a fugitive recovery business, nabbing bad guys for law enforcement across the state. In the end, more than 400 fugitives would meet Fulton and company on the wrong end of a gun.
Maybe it was the dark or the cold or the isolation, but Alaska provided a never-ending stream of violent felons, meth cookers, heroin dealers, and thieves. For Fulton and his fellow vets, reminding these fugitives they weren’t above the law, and going out with guns in hands to bust bad guys was way more therapeutic than laying on a couch talking about the war.
From tiptoeing through cracking snow on a bust to confiscating a fugitive’s handgun from the place “where the sun don’t shine,” Fulton and his crew had their share of adventure. But it all came to a head when the FBI asked the Army vet to go undercover to blow the lid off of a separatist leader and his band of crooks.
That’s when his raid focused on a small house in Wasilla, Alaska, home of 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. What he found there was a lot more than Fulton and his band had bargained for.
But “Blood of Patriots” is about a lot more than guns and glory, it’s about a team of men who came together in the remotest corner of the U.S. to bring justice to those who avoided it. Guys like “Suicide,” who had an “act first and think later” mentality.
And “Clay Aiken,” who got his country-singer handle from his Southern drawl. Everyone loved Clay and trusted him with their lives—but not their women.
The ironically-named and always mopey “Sunshine” spread his Eeyore vibe wherever he went. The Big Mexican was both, and came to snowy Alaska from East LA via the military.
And then there was “Gunny,” a six-foot-four brick sh@thouse of a man, who stood in a doorway like a solar eclipse, with thick, black, coiled tribal tattoos creeping up his neck and out the bottom of his black leather trench-coat sleeves.
Gunny was a former Marine who worked for a three-letter government organization he wouldn’t name, disappearing for months on special ops missions to parts unknown.
“Blood of Patriots” is the kind of adventure story that makes you wonder if fact really is stranger than fiction, but it also reminds you that some of our fighting men and women carry on the call long after their military service ends.
Bill Fulton’s “Blood of Patriots” is available on Amazon.com.
In this era of massive budget blockbusters and even bigger “shared universe” movie franchises, it’s safe to say that we’re not always looking for realism at the cinema. While films are capable of conveying lots of different sorts of messages, the common thread that binds them is entertainment, and as such, reality often falls to the wayside in favor of plot convenience, storytelling, or sometimes, just a lack of scientific understanding.
Movies that are “based on a true story” tend to bear little resemblance to the “true stories” they’re based on, movies about the military almost invariably fail to capture the culture or even the vernacular of American troops, and the Fast and Furious franchise has a physics all its own… but some movies do a good job of establishing that the rules of their cinematic universes are similar to our own, only to offer up weapons that, at best, don’t make sense, and at worst, would leave their user reduced to little more than a puddle of goo.
Some of these nonsensical weapons play small roles in the movies they inhabit, while others, like these, have become cultural touchstones; serving as symbols of the fictional universes they inhabit and the fandoms they inspire. These weapons are cool, dynamic, exciting… and would totally get you killed in a real fight.
The Klingon Bat’leth
While the Klingons had already been around for some time before “Star Trek: The Next Generation” introduced the Bat’leth, the unique double-sided sword quickly became visually synonymous with the Empire of warrior aliens. There’s just one problem: melee weapons make no sense in a galaxy full of handheld phasers and disruptors, and even if they did — the Bat’leth is one useless melee weapon.
While most bladed weapons offer the user an increase in reach, the Bat’leth’s curved shape makes it more awkward for extended one-handed strikes like a bow or staff might allow, and while held in the traditional two-handed way, it offers little more than a solid defense against other melee weapons. Perhaps this is why the mighty Klingons always find themselves bested in hand to hand combat by humans, Bajorans, and anybody else the plot finds convenient, despite their fierce reputations.
The Jedi/Sith Lightsaber
This one is sure to ruffle feathers, as the Star Wars fandom has devoted a great deal of time and energy to explaining away how these energy weapons must really work. However, as of Disney’s purchase of the franchise, canonical sources have been slashed, and we’re left once again with lightsabers that work without the plot-hole filler that was once allotted.
What we’re left with are extremely hot energy weapons that, as others have pointed out, shouldn’t work because the beams have endpoints, but assuming they did — anything that could burn so easily through feet of steel as depicted in the films would also melt the meat off of your hands as you held it. It would take so much heat to do what lightsabers are depicted as doing, it wouldn’t be safe to be in the same room as one, let alone to start swinging it like a baseball bat.
Tony Stark’s Iron Man Suit
The Iron Man suit has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with good reason. The MCU as we know it was born with the first Iron Man movie and in many ways, Stark serves as the Skywalker of the series… but that doesn’t change the fact that the suit that grants him his powers would actually be his undoing.
While the Iron Man armor may protect Tony from impacts and penetration, it can’t stop inertia. Iron Man is regularly shown taking hard, nearly instant turns at jet-fighter like speeds and even hitting the ground at similar velocities (whether intentionally or otherwise). Even if the armor offered protection from impact, the inertia of those movements would turn Tony Stark into chunky stew.
In reality, the first Iron Man movie likely would have ended with Pepper Potts prying the suit open only to let what was left of the titular hero pour out… which is why maybe it’s not always good to be completely realistic with one’s movie weapons.
Keanu Reeves has not only earned respect from the operator community for his tactical dedication, he’s also managed to charm his way into the hearts of everyone who isn’t dead inside. And then, of course, there’s the fact that he’s the face of multiple fandoms from The Matrix to John Wick to Bill & Ted.
He’s such a good guy — and he’s so good at what he does — that it’s just plain fun to adore him, which made this year’s Comic-Con@Home all the more delightful. While celebrating the 15th anniversary of Constantine and the upcoming release of Bill Ted Face the Music, Reeves really brightened up the doldrums of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s nothing like…I mean, I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like the way that working on Bill Ted and working with Alex [makes me feel]. That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me. So to partner up and work on the craft side of it and get to play, get to play these characters that Chris [Matheson] and Ed [Solomon] have created….there’s no other place where I can laugh like this,” he shared.
Everything Reeves says is incredibly genuine and is he single?
Reeves gushed on and on about his favorite moments from Constantine. “Getting to work with such extraordinary artists…” he beamed. “Production design was great. And the crew! Peter Stormare, as I’m bleeding out, and he’s leaning in to me! Philippe Rousselot was the cinematographer. Throwing down with Tilda Swinton as she’s choking me…”
Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub complimented Reeves for how awesome and gracious he is to the crew. He then asked Reeves how he stays grounded, and of course even Reeves’ response was, well, grounded. “That’s kind of you to say, Steve. I don’t know. I love what I do and I like going to work and I like being creative. We’re all in it together. Go play and have some fun.”
The reviews for “Suicide Squad” are in, and they’re a mixed bag, to put it politely. The film disappointed critics, but fans were more forgiving. What’s not in question, however, are military skills on display in the movie. That success is owed to Kevin Vance (of Vance Brown Consulting), a former Navy SEAL and professional military advisor for the film industry.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback there,” says Vance. “In terms of the gear we brought in, we had so much support. SS Precision, Vickers Tactical — the list goes on and on.”
He doesn’t judge what’s “good” and “bad.” That’s not his job. He can, however, understand the decisions made by the studios. Vance believes they tried to make a movie for the fans of the comic, like filmmaker Kevin Smith (who called it “dope“).
“I just know David Ayer and the film he wants to make,” the Navy veteran says. “He’s made so many great films over the years and has such a unique perspective. If he sucker-punches you while he tells his story, so be it. He’s not going to do it simply for effect. He’s going to do it to kind of smack you and wake you up”
Filmmaker David Ayer is a Navy veteran who hired Kevin Vance to train the cast of a previous film, 2014’s “Fury.” That film was about a U.S. Army tank crew in World War II. In the film, the experienced crew looses their bow gunner and gets a reluctant replacement.
“What was fascinating to me was Wardaddy’s (Brad Pitt) job was to really dismantle this young man’s sense of decency,” says Vance. “The resistance to becoming a functioning soldier was going to get everyone killed. The sense of decency is what he to break apart.”
Vance put the entire cast – Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal – through a rigorous WWII-style basic training, complete with canvas tents, cots, and lanterns to protect from the cold, North Atlantic winds in the open countryside.
“I wasn’t there to train those guys to be soldiers,” the former SEAL recalls. “I was there to put them in a state of mind. I was there to make them fatigued, miserable, cold, hungry, pissed-off. I broke them down physically and mentally to build them back up. They suffered together to create a functioning group inside that tank.”
They did learn to work as a team in a real Sherman tank, Brad Pitt commanding.
“They’re tight because of it now,” Vance says. “They all still talk to one another; they do dinners together. I’m not saying that’s just because of me. That’s guys bonding.”
(Flag) and Will Smith (“Deadshot”) in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.”
“Suicide Squad” was a much different animal in terms of mechanics, actor training, and weapons training. The film was about individuals being individual characters working together. Vance and his fellow military veterans had two weeks and $50,000 in blank ammo to drill the stuntmen and actors to move like operators.
“I was there to get these guys functioning on a level that the audience can truly appreciate, that our peers will appreciate, and then create scenarios where other movies have not performed,” Vance says. “We build this foundation of physical skills then move into this other space which the actor truly needs to perform well – and that’s that mental space.”
To Kevin Vance, that means combat mindset, leadership, and the emotional, psychological, or physical scars a character would have. Vance and his colleagues provide the actors with historical examples and personal examples from their real-world warfighting colleagues so they can take what they want and need for their character.
“Will Smith’s character [Deadshot] is very different from, say Flag [Joel Kinnaman] or Lt. Edwards [Scott Eastwood],” Vance says. “We’re all looking of that life-test. We’re looking to truly challenge ourselves. I didn’t know what that was. I just got very, very lucky when an old book landed on my lap in college when I was 19.”
That book was about scouts and raiders during World War II. It piqued Vance’s interest so much, he read more and more, eventually coming across books about Navy SEALs. One day he met a Vietnam veteran who inspired and educated him. One thing led to another, and Kevin Vance joined the Navy and served as a SEAL from 1994 to 2003. The frustrations of bureaucracy and war led Vance into entertainment.
“We used to have we called the ‘vent book,'” he recalls. “Guys can work out and vent. Guys can use conversation these different ways. So we created this book which turned into, something turned it into something really funny. It’s like how would you fight the war if you were Dirty Harry?”
The SEALs on Vance’s team got really creative with the vent book. Vance know some video game producers with the blessing of his team, decided to pitch the book to see where it led. That turned into Vance and his fellow Team guys writing a “Medal of Honor” game for Electronic Arts.
When I asked Kevin Vance for advice he could give separating military members on working in Hollywood, he was quick to remind me that his case is unique, he’s a “lucky guy,” and that he just came from a 48-hour shift at the local firehouse.
“If you’re getting out of the military, first thing first is to have a plan,” he says. “Don’t make Hollywood your plan A. Hollywood is not a structured environment like the military is, like a fire department is. You’re left to your own devices in a world that is unpredictable and unreliable.”
Vance says success in the film industry is also hinged highly on people skills and mission focus. The military from the garrison to the battlefield is one and the same with movies from set to screen. Veterans could use that same decisive skills set to engage, inform, and aid their own communities.
“I think people are hungry for a challenge,” he says. “Look at things like Mud-Runs, challenges you can pay to get. We ask 19-year-olds, men and women, to be soldiers, to be ambassadors, and spend a significant period of their adult years overseas. The people in our country need help. They need true leaders. We need people who can inspire other people and motivate other people. That’s what this generation of veterans has to offer.”
Now you can audition for America’s Got Talent, Season 16, right from the comfort of your own home. Auditions are going virtual this year, so this will be a brand-new experience for everyone, and for the first time ever, everyone’s favorite talent show is in collaboration with WATM readers. That’s right, casting producers will be taking a special look at your submission, submitted through a custom-built platform specifically for the military community, here.
We know that the military community has lots of talent and now is the time to showcase it. This unique opportunity means that for the first time ever, it doesn’t matter where in the world you call home – as long as you’re a U.S. citizen, you’re able to audition for America’s Got Talent. Find the complete eligibility requirements here.
Here’s how to get started.
If you’ve already registered for AGT, then click the sign-in option and select a Virtual Open Call Date on your Performer Profile Page. If you’re not registered, follow this custom link to sign up.
If you’re part of a group, make sure to follow safety guidelines first! We strongly encourage groups to submit an existing video instead of gathering in-person to create a new audition video. Uploading pre-existing recordings is easy. All you need to do is follow the ”Submit a Video Online option.”
Keep in mind if you already had an account with AGT from a previous session, your credentials have expired, so you’ll need to create a new Season 16 account.
After you’ve registered for an audition date and time, your spot is confirmed. You can double-check your details by signing into your Performer Profile page. Make sure to add email@example.com to your address book to prevent essential emails from going to your spam folder.
Auditions are free – all you need is an internet connection and a device with a camera and a microphone capable of running Zoom.
You’ll be given up to 90 seconds to audition, so make sure you come prepared and ready to wow the producers and judges!
You have the option to select a time for your appointment when you register. But that’s not your specific time — auditions happen on a first-come, first seen basis. It’s a good idea to come around the time that you select to help keep the process moving.
If you register for an audition date but can no longer make it, you can submit an online audition that will be reviewed by a producer or you can choose to audition on a different date.
After you perform, you might be asked some follow up questions by the AGT producers. Acts that are selected to move forward in the competition will be notified by the end of March.
With three of the four largest names at Timely Comics (which would eventually become Marvel Comics) being U.S. Army veterans, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the biggest names in their story lines center around U.S. Army veterans. Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Syd Shores all served in World War II. (The fourth? Joe Simon. And he was in the Coast Guard).
Whether they gained their powers through a Super Soldier project, magic, or even just skill — these Marvel super heroes proved to everyone the enduring strength of Army values.
Steve Rogers (Captain America) – World War II
In case you didn’t already know, the $12 billion film franchise and the most patriotic hero, Steve Rogers, was in the U.S. Army. Being a frail and weak soldier who still wanted to protect his people, he enrolls in the Super Soldier project. This grants him super strength, healing, and reflexes. He is also a master strategist and Earth’s greatest martial artist.
Following the success of the first Captain America, Marvel tried to experiment again with another super soldier serum through an analogy of the real world Tuskegee experiment.
Isaiah Bradley was the only survivor. His powers mimic that of Steve Rogers, but his mind is constantly deteriorating and he became sterile (much like the effects of syphilis).
In the short lived but phenomenally written story “Truth: Red, White & Black” and then “The Crew” Bradley takes on the mantle of Captain America while Rogers was frozen in ice. Through it, the series ends with a man who saved countless lives, saved the world, and is now forgotten to history.
Josiah X “Bradley” (Justice) – Vietnam War
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree with Isaiah Bradley’s son when the story of “The Crew” shifts. Josiah’s story takes place in the backdrop of the Vietnam War and then ’70s violence in Brooklyn. His powers are still the same of the other Captain Americas, and he’s armed with his father’s shield.
Writer’s Note: Seriously, I can’t recommend Christopher Priest’s work on this series enough. It’s one of the best damned comics I’ve ever read.
Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) – World War II
Thought killed in the same issue that Captain America joined the Avengers, James Buchanan Barnes was unveiled as the Winter Soldier. The once sidekick to Captain America became a coldblooded assassin and spy. He later regained his humanity and joined his old comrade and friend on the Avengers.
The name “Winter Soldier” is from Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis” and an organization of Vietnam Veterans against the war. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country.”
Nick Fury (The Unseen) – World War II
From leading his Howling Commandos to become the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., to transforming into the silent observer of Earth, Nick Fury has done it all without any actual abilities — and with only one eye. He has the Infinity Formula which kept him from aging, but it was with his mind and skill on the battlefield that allowed him to take down nearly every superhero in the Marvel universe.
Nick Fury — in both the main universe and “Ultimate Universe” (where he’s redesigned to look like Samuel L. Jackson) — many of his Howling Commandos, as well as his son Nick Fury Jr., all served in the U.S. Army.
Professor Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Cain Marko (Juggernaut) – Korean War
The story of both Professor X and Juggernaut’s time in the Korean War go hand in hand, with the stepbrothers both serving in the Army during the Korean war.
Charles had earned his Ph.D. in genetics before he was drafted and assigned to the same unit as his brother. When Cain deserted under fire, Charles went to retrieve him. He found himself in an ancient temple and gained magical powers of strength and immortality — making him an unstoppable force.
Charles, of course, has always had mutant powers.
Charles Xavier has been portrayed in the movies by Sir Patrick Stewart. The son of a regimental sergeant major in the British Army who’s unit was present in the Dunkirk evacuation, Stewart cites his father for inspiration for many of his roles on screen and stage.
Eugene ‘Flash’ Thompson (Agent Venom) – Iraq War
The former bully turned friend of the high school student Peter Parker (Spider-Man) enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight in Iraq where he lost his legs on the battlefield saving his squadmate.
Dealing with depression, alcoholism, and post-traumatic stress, Flash became the new host of the alien Symbiote “Venom.” Mixing the military knowledge of Thompson with the alien abilities of Venom, Agent Venom became one of the newest heroes to Marvel’s line-up in 2008.
I couldn’t tell you what Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have in mind for Agent Venom after Tom Hardy’s turn as Eddie Brock (Former host of Venom). But I can tell you that I would be 100 percent supportive of Tony Revolori’s depiction taking the oath of enlistment.
What other superheroes from the U.S. Army or military do you love? Let us know in the comment section.
*Bonus* Hal Jordan
He has no super powers, was only in one issue, and only helped Namor the Submariner fly a plane because he became a pilot for the Army Air Service. The only reason why this one-off character is even remembered is because his looks and military pilot background are the same as another character named Hal Jordan created 10 years later by DC.