This is the state that looks most like Afghanistan, according to Hollywood - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

This is the state that looks most like Afghanistan, according to Hollywood

If you’re looking to make a movie about the Afghanistan War, it should be obvious that you’re not going to be filming in Afghanistan itself. We’re coming up on the 19th anniversary of the war’s beginning, and things are still far too violent in the country to allow a movie crew to work safely.

That hasn’t stopped Hollywood from making films about the war, and they’ve tried multiple locations around the world in an attempt to capture that unique Hindu Kush vibe.

Movies like “Rock the Kasbah” have traveled to Morocco, a country that has also been a stand-in for Iraq (“American Sniper”), Libya (“13 Hours”) and Somalia (“Black Hawk Down”). The Gen. David Petraeus-inspired satire “War Machine” filmed in Abu Dhabi.

Most recently, “The Outpost” was filmed in Bulgaria, a Balkan nation with mountains that did a convincing job of subbing for Kamdesh, Afghanistan. Director Rod Lurie told Page Six that he originally wanted to film in Morocco, but local rules made that impossible.

“Places to film were Bulgaria or Morocco, but Morocco wouldn’t allow us to bring weapons. Soldiers need weapons. Morocco needed to know how many blanks we’d fire. So we went to Bulgaria. Great equipment, crews, props, makeup people. We stayed in a castle in Sofia.”

Things certainly have changed in Morocco since Ridley Scott made “Black Hawk Down” in the African country back in 2000.

Morocco, Bulgaria, Abu Dhabi. They’re all far from home and expensive. What if there was a location that was a quick two-hour flight from Los Angeles, gave excellent tax credits to motion picture companies, and had killer cuisine based on a local variety of chiles?

New Mexico welcomes you. The state has a booming movie and television economy and has been home to television series like “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” “The Night Shift,” “Longmire,” “Get Shorty” and “The Brave.”

It’s also been a location for movies like “The Avengers,” “Only the Brave,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Hostiles,” “Hell or High Water” and “Logan.”

New Mexico’s got the infrastructure and the crews, and it’s got the mountains and desert that have allowed three outstanding movies to tell stories about Afghanistan.

Let’s all hope that someday we get to see a great movie about Afghanistan that’s actually filmed there because the country has found peace and stability.

In the meantime, here are the best Afghanistan war movies shot in New Mexico.

Lone Survivor

Director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg began a long and fruitful collaboration with this movie based on Navy SEAL Markus Luttrell’s memoir about the 2005 Operation Red Wings mission to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.

Luttrell was the only team member to survive the mission. Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz lost their lives in an ambush after the team elected not to kill a young goat herder who stumbled across the mission.

The movie, nominated for two Oscars, proved there was an audience for well-made military films about our modern wars and kicked off a cycle of successful military films. Berg and Wahlberg have gone on to make “Deepwater Horizon,” “Patriots Day,” “Mile 22” and “Spenser Confidential.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Based on journalist Kim Barker’s Afghanistan War memoir “The Taliban Shuffle,” “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” stars Tina Fey as “Kim Baker,” a television journalist who learns the war correspondent ropes from journalists played by Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman.

Billy Bob Thornton shines as Baker’s primary military contact, and Nicholas Braun (now famous as Cousin Greg on “Succession”) plays her cameraman.

12 Strong

It’s hard to believe that it took until 2018 for Hollywood to make a movie about the legendary “horse soldiers,” the Green Berets who landed in Afghanistan in early October 2001 to lay the groundwork for the overthrow of the nation’s Taliban government.

Maybe they were waiting for the war to be over. Maybe they were worried how to film the horseback riding battle scenes while working with unfamiliar animal handlers in a foreign country.

Whatever the reasons, Black Label Media stepped up and figured out that it could make the movie in New Mexico after working there to film “Sicario,” “Only the Brave” and the sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.”

Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon and Michael Pena star as Green Berets based on the real men who led the critical mission that began our military response to 9/11.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

Why I’m thrilled Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel

Look, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really lighting my fires when it comes to their female superheroes.

When Marvel Studios announced they would be bringing Captain Marvel to the big screen, I was thrilled. I was also immediately invested and my expectations shot through the roof.


Heyyyyy Valkyrie…
(Thor: Ragnarok by Marvel Studios)

The reasons why are threefold:

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1. This movie is for *me*

I am the target demographic for this film, and I have been ever since my 8-year-old self cuddled up with nerdy/amazing hero novels, like The Rowan or The Song of the Lioness. I have been devouring epics featuring female heroes for as long as I can remember.

So have all the other women out there thirsting for heroes that look like them. Seeing representation on film and television empowers the people who are watching. This is why it’s so important and exciting to have women and people of color finally stepping into hero roles.

Full Metal Obsession.

(Warner Bros.)

2. I know the military world

I joined the military after 9/11 (probably as a result of the aforementioned hero literature). I wanted to literally fight evil. I was an Air Force captain, much like ol’ Captain Marvel herself. As a result, I’m very critical of how military women are portrayed in TV and film.

Edge of Tomorrow got it right. My list of who got it so, so wrong is too bitter to share here, but if your character wore a push-up bra, then you’re on it.

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Yeah, she played Envy. Amazing, right?

3. I know the casting world

I’m an actor and filmmaker. I understand that Hollywood has to take some artistic liberties. I understand that a big name means selling-power for a film. I also understand the work it takes to bring a character to life.

I’d literally stab someone for love the chance to play a role like Captain Marvel — whoever they cast better make me so delighted to watch that I forget my debilitating FOMO about not playing the part myself.

Well guess what, Marvel? YOU NAILED IT.

Brie Larson has been on my radar since the effing fantastic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

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She’s been on the world’s radar since her Oscar-winning performance in Room. Larson is the kind of actor who effortlessly morphs into a world. She is extremely natural on-camera.

Also, she’s just cool.

In the comics, Carol Danvers is an Air Force officer whose DNA fuses with a Kree, giving her superhuman powers. I don’t know how the MCU will bring her story to life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that screenwriter Anna Boden will take a cue from comic writer Kelly Sue DeConnick who pitched “…Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager.”

Obviously, the filmmakers are keeping pretty tight-lipped about the upcoming 2019 film, but Larson has been sharing little peeks at her training along the way, including work with the actual U.S. Air Force.

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This is a good sign — whenever there is a military film, my first question is who are the service members involved? (FWIW: I always prefer for the answer to be veterans who have transitioned out of the military and into professional careers in the entertainment industry)

Larson has also shared a glimpse at her physical training for the role.

Pull-ups take me back to jump school. Good times….

I believe that she could be powerful. I believe that she could be a leader.

Larson is lovely, but her looks don’t define her. She doesn’t need to be glamorous (though she surely can be when she wants to). This is the same mindset that women in the military have. There’s a comfort level with sacrificing some femininity for the mission. That’s what Hollywood gets wrong so often when they hyper-sexualize their military roles.

But not this time. Marvel crushed it with Larson, and I cannot wait to see this film.

I’m also going to lose my mind if we catch a glimpse of her in Avengers: Infinity War.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Ranking ‘Jurassic Park’ movies by the best Velociraptor scenes

Tyrannosaurus Rexes may get all the hype but velociraptors are every bit as essential to the success of the Jurassic film franchise. These vicious, brilliant carnivores are always around to cause a little mischief and eat an unsuspecting human using some advanced hunting tactics. But which of the films make the best use of these infamous dinosaurs? Here is our official ranking of the Jurassic Park films, purely based on their velociraptor scenes.

4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

There is a fairly obvious reason the first sequel places last on the list: Velociraptors are mostly missing from this movie. The raptors are unsurprisingly badass and slightly terrifying in the film despite their limited presence – fucking up the InGen team of mercenaries – but the bar for this list is simply too high for this maligned sequel to land any higher.

3. TIE: Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

If Jurassic Park III set the stage for the raptor redemption, the Jurassic World films are where they completed their transformation from villain to hero. And that transformation was mostly… fine. In the first Jurassic World, Owen Grady had been able to develop a rapport with a pack of raptors, to the point where they are able to follow his orders.


Sure, it undeniably rules to get to watch a pack of raptors run side-by-side with Chris Pratt on a motorcycle but watching the raptors bow to the will of a human trainer feels fundamentally wrong (not to mention a far cry from their brilliant tactical skills on display the rest of the franchise).

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Even their brief team up with the Indominus Rex doesn’t feel nearly as thrilling as it should, as it was fairly obvious they would eventually end up back on Team Owen. We won’t spoil Fallen Kingdom by getting into details but Blue’s role is basically the same as it was in the first Jurassic World, albeit the ending suggests an exciting future for this hyper-intelligent raptor.

2. Jurassic Park III (2001)

The worst movie in the Jurassic franchise? Maybe, but if you’re just looking for some sweet raptor content, Jurassic Park III is right near the top. Raptors are the best part of this otherwise mediocre movie, as the raptors’ remarkable level of intelligence and killer instincts are on full display in this third chapter.

The biggest reveal from the movie revolves entirely around velociraptors, as Dr. Alan Grant is shocked to discover that the pack of raptors are able to communicate in a way that is far more advanced than any other species other than humans. It’s also the beginning of the raptor rebrand, as it is the first time they don’t play the villain role. And while it’s technically just a dream, Grant waking up to a raptor calling his name literally never gets old.

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1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Was there ever any doubt? Whether they are outsmarting Robert Muldoon or hunting for Dr. Hammond’s grandkids in the kitchen, nearly every moment of raptor screentime in Jurassic Park is iconic. Hell, even their offscreen moments – who can forget when the group discovers Samuel L. Jackson’s arm – only helped establish the mythos of these vicious creatures.

And with all do respect to the other films, raptors are just more compelling when they are using their intelligence to hunt down humans, as opposed to helping them. And in this movie, they are in full baddie mode. In fact, they likely would have won the movie if it wasn’t for that pesky T-Rex conveniently showing up at the perfect moment.

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Twenty-five years later, it can be easy for all of us to take the popularity of raptors for granted but so much of what we now know about these vicious carnivores stems from this classic blockbuster. Without Jurassic Park, it’s highly unlikely that these clever girls would be a sure-fire first-ballot member of the Dinosaur Hall of Fame.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How Joker fighting the evil within resonates with veterans

Most people don’t think about evil. The force of evil is certainly out there, but it’s on a different street, a different city or across the ocean. Evil is something we see as a plot in Hollywood, in movies like Joker. It isn’t something most people give much thought to.

But for veterans, it’s different.


I sat at a table with a veteran friend of mine, sipping coffee in a local cafe. He looked around as we talked about where we’d been and things we’d done. “They’ll never know,” he said. “I mean, how could they?” Our fellow patrons were having conversations a million miles away from ours, talking about things like kids, yoga and groceries, not darkness or things that haunt us. “I suppose it’s better that way,” he added.

Maybe it is, I thought, but maybe not.

The recent depiction of The Joker has become the highest grossing R-rated release in box office history. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is now an Oscar front-runner for his personal dive into villainy. For a society that doesn’t understand or talk about evil, The Joker has clearly found an audience. Phoenix’s rendition of Arthur is not the villainous story you might guess though, instead, it’s a man driven by his quest for love and entertainment; he hardly seems like a villain.

Phoenix said he prepared for this role by identifying with “his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love.” It’s an interesting juxtaposition: how does one end up being evil if all they want is love? This is the question and the genius of Joker. The same question haunts many veterans today. What is the difference between the pursuit of love and evildoing? Seems obvious, right? Maybe not, if evil never seems to be the aim. Yet, somehow people end up there – doing things that destroy the world around them. Even Hitler, a real life villain, once said, “I can fight only for something that I love.”

People want to believe that evil is something they can spot, as if it wears an enemy’s uniform and is clearly recognizable as “the bad guy.” The reality is, evil isn’t just lurking in a dark alley, waiting to sneak up on you when you least expect it. For some veterans, evil isn’t only external, although it certainly may have started that way. Evil isn’t something in a far-off land for us. It’s something we’ve carried home and something with which we have to deal. Carl Jung once said, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method of dealing with the darkness of other people.” What most veterans don’t know, but soon find out, is that facing evil out there means facing it inside of ourselves, too.

I have witnessed this realization many times in veterans, sitting next to them as they struggle with how the world could be this way. How could it be? Where is the good? As a chaplain and a social worker, I have seen, even been part of, people losing their hold on a world that they can picture themselves living in. The feelings of helplessness and sadness are overwhelming when facing a world with all its deficiencies.

It can be horrifying to think that we have something in common, even sharing the air, with the Jokers of the world. The genius of Phoenix’s performance is that most of us can see parts of ourselves in his character. This is what makes coming back from war so difficult; there is no shutting your eyes. Facing the realities of evil post-war is harder in a society that also wants nothing to do with it.

Service in the military shocked my own naiveté, forcing me to grasp with my own encounters with evil around me, even in me. War, more than any other environment, is the great tester. It reveals all of the little cracks and strengths. It is the great kiln of life. Perhaps facing these demons is a reason for the stubborn rising suicide rate and extreme isolation we see in veterans post-war. It also explains why veterans so often take roles in protecting people from it — serving in law enforcement and security.

For those who haven’t served, who has not felt the pain of betrayal, neglect or helplessness at an abuse of power? Allowing ourselves to experience the abyss of evil is “fearless”, as one critic said of Phoenix’s performance. Who has not found themselves filled with thoughts of revenge? Perhaps a better question then is: Why aren’t all of us Jokers? Why don’t we all go mad? Maybe we are. Maybe there’s a little villain in all of us.

Not all veterans can face their demons. Not facing the villain, outside and in, leads to a space you can’t share, a place where you join the Jokers of the world. This would explain why some veterans think of suicide as an honorable thing, saving the world from the Joker they have become. Some just drive faster, drink more, turn up the music and close their eyes when these evils start to appear.

There is good reason to avoid looking – we might not be prepared to fight the evil we see. Heath Ledger’s plunge into the character of evil may have led him to places that he could not find his way out from. Encountering true evil and the thin veil that separates us leads most to question our own capacity to overcome it.

Evil hides in omission — our lack of doing as much as our acts of doing. Stopping evil does not mean that we weaken or blind ourselves. Instead, as many veterans do, they choose to see the enemy, even if it’s within, rather than hide. The confrontation is fraught; not just with evil’s existence but in the failure to do good when they can. Veterans who find their way back home learn this. Veterans like Chase Millsap who saw local nationals murdered after working with U.S. soldiers and created a way for them to be safe with nooneleft.org. Veterans like Noel Lipana, who couldn’t make sense of his actions and has found a way to tell his story and shape others through an art performance piece. They could not omit. They decided that the way back is to do good. To exert agency over their helplessness in the face of evil. Is this not the only way? To do good, in the face of evil.

The last decade has brought new thinking on this as well, rethinking post-traumatic stress disorder toward a term called Moral Injury because it tracks better to veterans’ experience of war — that evil, sometimes our own, shocks our worldview. To see evil and the ugliness of humankind can shake you to your core and leave you with lingering questions. An abbreviated definition of Moral Injury refers to the lasting impacts of actions that violate a service member’s core moral values and expectations of self or others. Perhaps another definition is that Moral Injury is the impact of coming face to face with evil, even if it’s our own. Facing evil in the world can leave you with more questions than answers. Fortunately, these questions aren’t new, they just aren’t often talked about. Maybe that’s why evil and veil are just letters rearranged differently; both are thinly seen.

The story of the Joker is the story that veterans know all too well. Today’s society leaves most willfully blind to the struggles and evils in the world, leaving many veterans grasping for answers to questions that their neighbors are not asking. At first glance, it does seem easier to omit them, but closing our eyes to them will not save us. Perhaps the reason the Joker has garnered so much international attention is because it’s telling a story we all know, but don’t like to look at. A story that needs to be told.

We don’t say things we should. We don’t look at injustice if we can avoid it. We avoid confrontation when possible. We choose to close our eyes, rather than see.

The Joker invites all of us, not just veterans, to manage our own shadows by doing the good we know to do. Veterans don’t have the market cornered on this, most just signed up for it and are learning how to live with the evil around us.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

Joker was always going to be a different kind of Batman movie. It might not even to be fair to call it a Batman movie, centered as it is on Gotham’s most infamous criminal and not its most famous orphan. But besides a narrative focus beyond good vs. evil, what sets this movie apart is its relationship with its source material.

“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about,” writer-director Todd Phillips said in an upcoming interview with Empire. You read that right: instead of basing the script on a graphic novel or cobbling it together from different comic books, Phillips wrote an original story.


“We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man,” Phillips added.

JOKER – Teaser Trailer

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Instead of pitting the character, be it zoot suited Jack Nicholson in a zoot suit or a shirtless Jared Leto, against Batman, the Joker script is about Arthur Blank’s descent into Travis Bickle-like madness. If it sounds like a role designed for Phoenix, a notoriously intense actor, that’s because it is.

“We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing,” he told the magazine. We constantly thought, ‘God, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.'”

Well, he actually did it, but you’ll have to wait until Oct. 4, 2019, to see exactly where on the “inspired by” to “based on” spectrum Phillips’s film falls.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

If only every vet could get a ‘Queer Eye’ episode

I wish every veteran could get a makeover from the Queer Eye Fab Five — and before you reach for your beers and bullets, hear me out: the military teaches us to suck it up and prepares us for the worst conditions on earth…and that gruffness becomes the standard of living even after we get out.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Not for us. Not for our families.

Just ask Brandonn Mixon, U.S. Army veteran and co-founder of Veterans Community Project, an organization that provides housing and walk-in services for service members in order to end veteran homelessness. Mixon literally builds houses for homeless vets.

The Queer Eye team decided to return the favor, helping Mixon finish his own home, upgrade his professional look, and learn to process his service-connected Traumatic Brain Injury. In spite of all the good Mixon does for his brothers and sisters in arms, Mixon confided to Karamo Brown that he feels like he’s failing in life.

“Who told you that you’re failing?” Brown pressed.

“I did.”

He’s not the only vet who feels this way.


MIGHTY MOVIES

Peter Markle: From the US Army to USA Hockey and on to Hollywood

Peter Markle grew up during a period of intense change for the country with the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War etched into his mind. His father proudly served in WWII in the Pacific where he brought those hard-learned lessons and values back to the family, which greatly impacted Peter. After time in the U.S. Army Reserves and on the USA Hockey Team, Markle decided to become a filmmaker. He has directed many great films, especially military and historical ones, to include Bat 21, Faith of my Fathers, Flight 93, Saving Jessica Lynch, Nightbreaker and Youngblood. Markle has also directed numerous episodes for hit shows including the X-Files, CSI, Without a Trace, Life, NYPD Blue, Burn Notice, Rescue Me, ER and Homicide: Life on the Street.

WATM: Tell me about your family and your life growing up?

I was born in Danville, PA. in the Geisinger Hospital that my mother’s father started. We lived on a farm outside Hazelton, PA. I have vivid memories from my first years there. The barn and particularly the hay loft, the fresh fruit that was picked daily in season, the creek where one of the workers killed a water moccasin one day. In first grade we moved to Minneapolis where my father got a job at a bank and I was introduced to a real winter. And the rink directly across the street in the park where I discovered ice hockey.

When I grew up there was no social media and absolutely no restrictions what you did with your free time when not in school. We had a black lab that left the house in the morning with us, went on his own way when he got bored with our activities which included exploration, sports, fishing etc. My dad hung a huge bell that could be heard

a half a mile away which was rung for lunch and dinner. The dog was always the first one back. Times have changed. We had enormous freedom and there was no temptation to bury our faces in smart phones. All activity was self-created.

I distinctly remember being fascinated the movies and got completely lost in them at the local cinema which is still there today. One of my favorites was Shane with Alan Ladd. Years later his son, Alvan Ladd, Jr. greenlit one of my films (Youngblood).

Markle with Flint Generals (IHL). Photo credit PM.

I continued hockey throughout high school and my senior year was asked to join the Olympic Hockey development program which ran through the summer. I played at Yale, had a tryout after my senior year with Boston, played minor league hockey and then three years with the US National team participating in two World tournaments.

Markle with the USA team. First row second from the right. Photo credit PM.

WATM: What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?

My parents were very social and community involved. My dad was one of the founders the youth hockey program in our area which started with one team and expanded in a few years into 500 participants. My mother worked throughout her life for hospitals concentrating on rehabilitation. Her interest in health care no doubt emanated from her father who was first assistant surgeon to Will and Charlie Mayo and at one point in his career became President of the American College of Surgeons. They were both extremely social and the vast majority of their best friends served in some way during WW2, many as Naval pilots. My dad was interested in everyone he met. He was the best listener I’ve known. That did not imply he didn’t have a point of view. His advice was judicious and more than often accepted. My mother was a community organizer. That would include in her community as well as her hospital work. Her friends would call her in the morning for their marching orders for the day.

WATM: What values were stressed at home?

It was the traditional ‘Golden Rule’. It’s a timeless aphorism and sometimes hard to follow in a competitive world like film but being honest and empathetic wins out in the short and long run. My mother also told me that lying not only was reprehensible but far more difficult to keep track of than the truth. Both underscored that failure was the inevitable pathway to success. It all depends on how you react to it.

WATM: What influenced you to join the US Army, what was your experience and what lessons did you take away from your service?

I graduated from college at the height of the Vietnam conflict and joined the rest of my class in deciding what was the next move. A significant number of the class including myself applied for the Naval OCS (officer candidate school) in the language division which was in Monterey, Ca. The sample copy of the test which was based on a made-up language was circulated around the campus. I remember looking at it and getting the gist of the concept. Apparently, the other students there got the gist as not one of several hundred who took it missed a question. There was some sort of investigation by the Navy, but it was dropped. I did not attend OCS and assumed upon graduating I would be drafted. I was playing professional hockey when I was told to report to Fort Snelling where the Minnesota Army Reserve was located. I was with four other players at the end of a 200-person line when our names were called, and we were told to report to the front. We were all inducted into the Reserves and told that we would all get time off when playing for the US National hockey team including world tournaments. A month later I was in Stockholm.

Peter lining up for the action shot even before becoming a director. Photo credit PM.

I did basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the middle of the summer. It was incredibly hot and humid. I made fast friends in my platoon and had a great drill sergeant. It was a lot like summer football camp but with longer hours. Up at 4am for a 5-mile run in army boots to lights out at 10pm. I was told that you had to learn how to stand in formation while asleep. Done. We had soldiers who gained 80 pounds (never had more than one meal a day) and others who lost 80 (never ran over 10 yards in their lives before). It was a very different mix from my fraternity in college where we had 4 Olympic Swimmers (including Don Schollander who won 5 gold medals and Calvin Hill who was All Pro in the NFL. As a footnote The President of the frat my sophomore year was Fred W. Smith, founder/CEO of FedEx and decorated US Marine in Vietnam, and for my senior year it was George W. Bush who also ended up in the Air Force Reserves.

The harassment was handed out pretty democratically until the PT contest. Parallel bars, low crawl, 100-yard man carry, the 6-minute mile in army boots, push ups etc. I scored the only perfect score in my company (200 men) and was given the weekend off. That would not have happened if my 98-pound roommate, Eddie Pragg, didn’t let me use him for the man carry.

I have to underscore that my boot camp experience on every level was positive. It was tough but extremely well organized. The officers were exacting but fair. The staff was totally professional. It ran like clockwork at a time when so many were going through the turnstile each day. There are some correlations to making a film where it demands a unified front and an ability to make quick adjustments according to the situation at hand. I was just a grunt in the machine but there were numerous examples among the staff on every level as well as my fellow platoon mates that have stayed with me my entire life.

No one knew other than a small handful of reservists as to whether they would end up in Vietnam. I did not have to confront the prospect of being shipped out. I realized that I was uniquely privileged. I did OJT (on the job training) at Fort Ord in Chicago before ending back in Minneapolis for weekend duty once a month at Fort Snelling. Motor pool, clerical work, city public projects. No riots or disasters to contend with. We did summer camp at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and in addition to my normal duties and drills I was an editor of the camp newspaper distributed the last day. I decided to take a somewhat satirical angle on the experience and was surprised at the reception. There was laughter, soldiers reading bits out loud and fortunately no reprisals from the brass. I was encouraged to write by my freshman English professor in college and never took it seriously until listening to the reception of my version of ‘The Onion’ distributed around camp.

I would be remiss not to mention that it was my father who was the real soldier. He dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania to join the Navy. He got his pilot license at 17 and became one the youngest flight instructors in the armed forces during WW2. He was assigned to the USS Bataan, a light aircraft carrier, and fought in the last years in the Pacific through the surrender which he witnessed being docked next to the Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Because of his flight experience he was put in charge of the CIC (combat information center) directing planes when airborne, spotted bogies (enemy planes) and skunks (unidentified surface ships) basically directing aerial combat operations along with the brass. They were in the middle of the kamikaze blitz and had numerous close calls. He witnessed both the Bunker Hill and the Franklin take direct hits some less than 200 meters away with the loss of over 1000 sailors. During one Kamikaze attack a sister ship got hit and 19 soldiers were thrown overboard. Dad marked his ship’s position using the DTR (dead reckoning system) and he convinced the brass to take 8 ships after dark for a search. They implemented a staggered zig zag course for six hours and miraculously found the sailors within 10 minutes of the search stop order. To be noted as well, his brother, Alvan, landed on Omaha Beach, fought 5 major battles in the Bulge as an artillery captain and was honored the Chevalier of the Legion of Honneur by the French. He attended the 70th Anniversary of Normandy.

Peter’s father (Thomas) during WWII. Photo credit PM.

Pictures from Peter’s father during his time in the Navy. Photo credit PM.

Pictures from Peter’s father during his time in the Navy. Photo credit PM.

Pictures from Peter’s father during his time in the Navy. Photo credit PM.

Pictures from Peter’s father during his time in the Navy. Photo credit PM.

Pictures from Peter’s father during his time in the Navy. Photo credit PM.

Pictures from Peter’s father during his time in the Navy. Photo credit PM.

WATM: What values have you carried over from the Army into directing and writing?

It’s a tiresome analogy but it would be teamwork. I’ve been on series where one show had 4 stages in use at the same time. One devoted primarily to build sets designed for a particular episode, another three with sets for shooting a current episode, pickups from previous episodes and for the next one. Well over 100 people will be working to accomplish the same goal. Each department head is crucial to the mission (production; accounting; director and assistant directors; art; camera; casting; catering; construction; costume; lighting; grip; locations; makeup/hair; medic; post-production; property; publicity; research; script supervision; set dressing; sound; special effects; stand-ins; stunts; transportation; video playback; visual effects. The similarity to the chain of command in the military is obvious. Lots of departments. Lots of personnel. And all interdependent with one another. I guess the ‘weakest link in the chain’ is a prevalent dynamic in both film and the armed forces. I was shooting a film in Borneo (Bat 21) and the special effects department head had set a series of explosions along a path through the jungle Gene Hackman and Danny Glover would run by. This was primarily done using a nail-board which each nail represented an explosion. After going hot contacting the individual nails with metal (could be a screwdriver) set off the blast. The department head said that he was going to use a computer program instead of the old system, the ‘eyeball approach’. I questioned whether it made sense to switch now but he said it was safer. I called action and Danny and Gene started running along a riverbank. An explosion (representing a bomb) goes off so close to them that they both instinctively duck and cover their faces but continue running. The second explosion is closer, and we get the same reaction for the talent. I look over at effects and he is white as a ghost. The shot was incredible, but we almost lost two actors. Back to the nail board. We never told Gene or Danny.

WATM: What is the most fulfilling project you have done and why?

I guess it’s always the first one because you actually pulled off the impossible. It was a low budget comedy called The Personals where no one was paid. It got great reviews and a crazy learning experience. Bat 21 was up there for the subject matter, the location and working with Gene and Danny. Flight 93 was the first 9/11 film and it was done for AE TV. It was nominated for and won a bunch of Emmys. It was also a challenge to write because the majority of the account took place on the plane. The 9/11 Commission report had just come out and had a great deal of information that I was able to incorporate into the film. We covered not only the drama on the plane but also the families as well as the air traffic controllers and military involvement on the ground.

WATM: What was your experience like in working with such talents as Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Senator John McCain, Kiefer Sutherland, Dennis Hopper, Daryl Hannah, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Cynthia Gibb, John Candy, Jerry Reed, Joe Pantoliano, Ed Lauter and the like?

After a tryout with the New York Islanders and being assigned to a farm team I made the abrupt decision to become a filmmaker. A good friend of my parents told me something that I never forgot – ‘If you do something you love you increase the odds a hundred-fold that you will be happy and successful.’ I gave it a shot. I ended up doing several military related projects including Bat 21 with Gene Hackman, Faith of my Fathers with Scott Glenn and Shawn Hatosy, Saving Jessica Lynch, Flight 93 and Nightbreaker with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.

All were based on true stories. Bat 21 chronicled the rescue of a 52-year-old Air Force Colonel who was flying a mission to identify through electronic surveillance SAM missile sites that would be knocked out by fighter jets prior to a B52 carpet bombing. His plane was hit by a SAM and he ended up in enemy territory with no ground combat experience. He was guided to his rescue by a spotter plane that flew daily missions tracking him. Gene Hackman played the Colonel and Danny Glover the pilot. Both actors were terrific to work with. Gene prepped at night and arrived early in the day to walk the ‘set’ (only locations in our case). I don’t think I ever did more than 3 takes with him in a scene. Danny is a natural and had great insights into his character. All day aerial shooting was done with him in the plane. It was 95 degrees, humid and our takes had to be limited to seconds in some cases. It was major hazard duty, but Danny embraced it. At times he had control of the stick and relied on our stunt pilot in the other seat to let him know when to bank away.

On the set of Bat 21 with Gene Hackman and Peter. Photo credit Peter.

Clayton Rohner and Danny Glover in Bat 21. Photo credit IMDB.com

Faith of my Fathers was based on John’s McCain’s early days at Annapolis through his release from the Hanoi Hilton where he was imprisoned for 5 years. Shawn Hatosy was remarkable as he had to age 20 years over the course of the film in portraying John. Scott Glenn was perfect, giving an understated yet powerful performance as his father who was commander of all U.S forces in the Vietnam theater. McCain himself visited the set in New Orleans where we reconstructed an abandoned brewery into the prison. One day I watched him walk over to a cell by himself and enter. I joined him and asked him what he thought. His reply, ‘it’s identical. But you know at times I actually miss it.’ Perplexed, I asked, ‘miss what?’ John replied, ‘being there. I made some great friends. It was one of those shared experiences that forms you for the rest of your life.’ That summed up John McCain for me.

Peter, Shawn Hatosy and Senator John McCain on the set of Faith of my Fathers. Photo credit Peter.

Saving Jessica Lynch was a jingoistic, short of the facts script when I received it. I did extensive research which included interviewing soldiers who were in Iraq and one we hired as an extra who was part of the actual rescue effort. The final product told the real story: A convoy consisting of essentially non-combat personnel (cooks and clerks) made a couple of bad decisions and ended up driving through a town inhabited by Fedayeen. The New York Times and other reputable news outlets broke stories that our film debunked. Lynch did not shoot back during the attack. Eleven American soldiers died. She was taken to a hospital and was on her back through her rescue. The Times wrote a retraction after the film aired praising the film for its authenticity.

Laura Regan in Saving Jessica Lynch. Photo credit IMDB.com

Pete and Laura on set. Photo credit PM.

A scene from Saving Jessica Lynch. Photo credit IMDB.com.

Peter directing a scene of Saving Jessica Lynch. Photo credit PM.

Just before filming starts on the set of Saving Jessica Lynch. Photo credit IMDB.com

An action sequence from Saving Jessica Lynch. Photo credit PM.

Nightbreaker was a pet project of Martin Sheen. It chronicled the use of army soldiers as guinea pigs to determine the short- and long-term effects of being exposed to a nuclear blast. This was a story from the 50s when nuclear proliferation was at its apex. Emilio plays Martin role as a young man during the actual tests. It tracks the character in middle age trying to come to terms with his involvement. Both actors were terrific to work with and inhabited the pervasive guilt from being involved in the malignant endeavor. Joey Pantoliano played a Sergeant who was in charge of a platoon of guinea pig soldiers and brought the entire range of conflicted emotions to his part.

Peter with Martin Sheen on the set of Nighbreaker. Photo credit Peter.

Joe Pantaliano, Peter and Emilio Estevez on set for Nightbreaker. Photo credit IMDB.com

Peter and Martin on set. Photo credit Peter.

Flight 93 was the first film about 9/11. Obviously, there was a military component as soon as it was discovered that it was a coordinated terrorist attack. I remember someone seeing the film and mentioning that it must have been harrowing to make. I noted that our fuselage (the real interior of a 757) was flying at an altitude of one meter, zero knots and within a 15 second walk to craft services (snacks). The best we could do would imagine how we would have reacted in the situation. Would we have been that heroic? Would we be at the head of the conga line attacking the cockpit or hiding in the bathroom in the back? Maybe somewhere in the middle? The coordination between the military and the civilian air services was impressive even though three of the four targets were hit. The passengers on 93 had more time to gather information and communicate with ground control so enable them to coordinate an attack.

Peter on the set of Flight 93. Photo credit IMDB.com

What the outside of the set looked like. Photo credit PM.

Peter working with the cast on Flight 93. Photo credit IMDB.com

More on set work for Flight 93. Photo credit IMDB.com

93 was an intense journey as are all films. Lots of moving parts, decisions, conflicts and compromises. But ultimately it is teamwork that wins out.

Rob Lowe, Pete and Patrick Swayze on set for Youngblood. Photo credit IMDB.com

Pete (bottom center) with the cast and some crew of Youngblood. Photo credit IMDB.com

Youngblood was a passion project and a blast to make. It was about a young hockey player from the US trying out for an elite Canadian junior team. Rob Lowe, Pat Swayze and Cindy Gibb were the leads. Keanu Reeves played a goalie and it was his first job in a film. Goalies are characters because it’s such an insane position and he was totally quirky in the audition. Rob was great to work with. He had no previous experience skating but progressed quickly enough for us to make it work. He had two doubles who filled in the action scenes who were both elite players.

Pat was a figure skater and quickly adjusted to hockey skates. Rob would agree with me that Pat was a force of nature. He’d be working on 10 other personal projects when not on the set. He composed the song ‘She’s like the Wind’ in his hotel room using a portable mixing setup. We had two scrimmages a week during prep with crew and our hockey extras. Our extras were elite players (two went into the NHL a month after wrap and had huge careers). An executive from MGM came up to make sure I wasn’t participating in the games for obvious reasons and was taken to the rink and just as he sat down, he saw me collide with another player. Pat who knew the exec was there skated over to me and said ‘stay down. He’ll have a heart attack.’

Rob, Peter, Ed Lauter and Ken James. Photo credit PM.

Pete on the ice with his DP Mark Irwin. Photo credit PM.

Tony Danza, Pete, Nick Tuturro and Samuel L. Jackson on the set of Dead and Alive: The Race for Gus Farace. Photo credit IMDB.com

Frank Vincent, Tony Danza and Pete on Dead and Alive: The Race for Gus Farace. Photo credit IMDB.com

Danny Glover and Pete sharing a moment. Photo credit PM.

Dayton Callie, Michael Madsen, Pete and Dennis Hopper on the set of The Last Days of Frankie the Fly. Photo credit IMDB.com

Pete on the set of “The X-Files” with David Duchovny. Lily with the poncho, Pete, David and Melinda (Pete’s wife) Photo credit IMDB.com

Peter and Louis Gossett Jr. on the set of El Diablo. Photo credit IMDB.com

Pete and Daryl Hannah taking a break on The Last Days of Frankie the Fly. Photo credit IMDB.com

WATM: As a veteran, how do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?

There are so many diverse stories that can be told. The multiple perspectives include what branch of service, when, the mission, the soldiers involved, fact or fiction etc. Like any project it depends on the strength of the narrative and its ability to attract the actors that help finance the project and the studio/production company to green light it. Personally, I think the number is infinite. All conflicts are different just like every individual is different.

Dennis Hopper, Pete and Kiefer Sutherland on The Last Days of Frankie the Fly. Photo credit IMDB.com

Gillian Anderson and Peter on the set of “The X-Files”. Photo credit IMDB.com

WATM: What are you most proud of in life and your career?

First would be having a family which I did at an advanced age. I met my wife, Melinda, while casting a television film. I guess you could call it an acceptable version of the casting couch. That is to say I wasn’t the only one in the room and it wasn’t at the Peninsula Hotel. She was the best actress for the part, and I was immediately attracted to her by her performance and presence. We laughed and argued (about the role) in the room. I knew she was going to be a challenge, but it has made our lives infinitely interesting. And, of course, I’m a guy and like most of our species have not progressed that much from the stone age. We have two kids, Lily and Lucas. As moms and dads know, when children make an appearance, life as you knew it evaporates. But in a good and challenging way. When they got into their teens, I learned so much. Such as I was a horrible dresser and not to yell at basketball or soccer officials. We taught them both to ski and the progression of literally carrying them down the hill to not being able to ski any of their favorite double black runs with them is humbling. You realize that you can give them some direction but that they are on their own paths and need to fumble and fall and learn to pick themselves up again.

Per career I think it would be not willing to quit. To keep trying. I never had a film gross 100 million and did not play one game in the NHL, but I was rewarded in countless ways for my efforts. I have met so many wonderful, dedicated, talented people along the way which is one of the most valid ways to judge one’s life. And I can say that my time spent in the Army was an integral part of the on-going journey.


MIGHTY MOVIES

This year’s Memorial Day concert honors Vietnam veterans

PBS’s multi award-winning National Memorial Day Concert returns live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for a special 30th anniversary broadcast hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna. The 30th annual broadcast of the concert airs live on PBS Sunday, May 26, 2019, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m., before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network.

A 30-year tradition unlike anything else on television, America’s national night of remembrance takes us back to the real meaning of the holiday through personal stories interwoven with musical performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and guest artists.

The 2019 anniversary edition of the concert will feature Vietnam Valor and Brotherhood — brought to life by long-time friends acclaimed actor Dennis Haysbert and Joe Mantegna.


Fifty years since the height of the Vietnam War, the painful memories from their service remain fresh for many of its veterans. In 1969, our soldiers continued to fulfill their duty and carry out the missions their country asked of them. As part of a special 50th anniversary commemoration to honor the service and sacrifice of Vietnam War veterans and to thank them, the concert will share the story of two infantrymen — Ernest “Pete” Peterson (Haysbert) and Brad Kennedy (Mantegna) — who formed a brotherhood while serving in Vietnam and now meet each year at the Vietnam Wall where they remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Valor and Brotherhood

www.youtube.com

Other features include the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion — featuring a performance by Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Elliott and A Gold Star Widow’s Journey — portrayed by television series star Jaina Lee Ortiz.

For Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day. This year, the concert will share the journey of one widow — Ursula Palmer (Ortiz) — beginning with the day her worst fears came true, just two weeks before her husband was due to return home. While “moving on” from this devastating loss was not possible, Palmer knew that for the sake of her daughter she would have to learn to move forward. Along the way she found solace and empowerment by co-founding a new chapter of Gold Star Wives, a virtual chapter for post 9/11 widows and widowers, and by helping wounded veterans and their families.

The all-star line-up also includes: distinguished American leader General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.); Grammy Award-winning legend Patti LaBelle; multi-platinum selling singer, performer and songwriter Gavin DeGraw; Broadway and television star Christopher Jackson; multi-Grammy Award-winning bluegrass icon Alison Krauss; SAG and Olivier Award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated actress and singer Amber Riley; multi-platinum-selling country music star Justin Moore; and Patrick Lundy The Ministers of Music; in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly (additional performers to be announced). The 2019 National Memorial Day Concert will share Lambert’s story of bravery and pay tribute to heroes who sacrificed and died in service to our nation and the world.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie — prove me wrong

Despite the running “Night Before Christmas” motif and a soundtrack that almost exclusively features Christmas carols, some still challenge the status of “Die Hard” as a Christmas movie — even, much to our horror, Bruce Willis himself. This year, we’ll be solving the annual debate once and for all.

If you haven’t seen it — first of all, what’s wrong with you? Are you a German terrorist? — here’s the gist of the 1988 action-thriller: “A New York City cop faces overwhelming odds when his Christmas visit to California is interrupted by a terrorist invasion of his estranged wife’s office building.”


Before we can prove that something is a Christmas movie, we first have to define what a Christmas movie is. The problem is that Christmas — or the holiday season, rather — isn’t an overarching genre so much as it as a convention that flavors other genres. Every year, we’re greeted by dozens of holiday films, but if we break them down by genre, it looks a little different. There are family films set during the holidays (“Arthur Christmas”); there are Santa-centric adventure films (“The Santa Clause”); there are quirky romantic ensemble comedies that border on horror about surviving your screwed-up family (“Love, Actually”). Each of these films spans a different genre, however, they all fall under the category of “holiday movies.”

Bruce Willis as John McClane in “Die Hard.”

(Photo courtesy of IMDB.)

In order to navigate this timeless convention, we have to create criteria using patterns spanning holiday films in the past. From timeless classics such as “A Christmas Carol” to Christmas-based comedies like “Home Alone,” the biggest defining factor for a Christmas film seems to be the impact that the time of the year has on the film.

The physical holiday setting is of the utmost importance, which usually manifests in two ways: art direction and audio. For holiday films, that means holiday imagery and holiday-associated sound effects (bells), as well as seasonal music. “Die Hard” is rife with all of these, from the glorious shredding of the bearer bonds in conjunction to “Let it Snow” and even Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” which very loudly proclaims “This is Christmas.” “Die Hard” may not necessarily rely on its Christmas imagery, but it does feature several allusions to the holiday. For example, “Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho”? How about the snow at the ending — in Los Angeles? All of that seems to imply that “Die Hard” is a Christmas film. In fact, all the holiday references makes it odder to consider that it may not be a Christmas film. The setting, of course, pales in comparison to the emotional and thematic contents of the movie.

‘Die Hard’ 30th Anniversary Christmas Trailer

www.youtube.com

Holidays movies usually take a pretty firm moral stance, usually about the forces of family and the holiday spirit. “Die Hard” frames these themes through John McClane’s quest to reconcile with his wife, which is the driving motivation of this film. There would be no plot without that seed of a familiar desire — no McClane versus Gruber, no grand shootout. Sure, “Die Hard” could have taken place during the summer, but the emotional stakes for John McClane’s character wouldn’t have been as high.

“Die Hard” is built around an innately deep issue: reconciliation and family bonding, which relies on the holiday spirit to intensify the stakes. At its core, this movie is about a man seeking redemption. Is it the same redemption that Scrooge was seeking? Not necessarily, but the running, gunning, and general action-packed nature of the its genre makes it no less of a Christmas film in our book.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idhJqKxebVY
The Yippie Ki-Yay, MF!

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Articles

A fanboy just made this ‘John Wick video’ with Nerf guns and it’s awesome

By any measure, the latest installment of the John Wick franchise is a hit. With a $30 million opening and about $158 million in global box office as of mid-March, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is riding high.


The flick is packed with action, badassery and edge-of-your-seat thrills. But what really stands out about the movie — and what might give it its 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating — is the Delta Force-esque gunplay.

The leaked video of “John Wick: Chapter 2” lead man Keanu Reeves punching some paper with tactical training guru Taran Butler in the lead up to the release of the film only helped illustrate how Wick’s got a little Ninja in his blood.

So how do you make the job harder for the assassin of assassins? Ditch the irons and replace them with Nerfs — then see how he does.

Well a YouTube team attempted just that, providing a stand in for Wick and bedecking him with an arsenal of foam and plastic. And what this Nerf John Wick was able to accomplish against 14 assassins will blow your mind.

MIGHTY MOVIES

What would happen if the US Space Force were like Marvel’s Starforce

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.

(Marvel Studios)

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.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Discovery’s ‘Deadliest Catch’ features Coast Guard’s search for survivors

Capt. Wild Bill Wichrowski’s year started tragically.

A Navy veteran, Wichrowski is one of the captains on “Deadliest Catch,” a Discovery Channel series about Alaska’s crab industry. He was close friends with two of the five men who died when the Scandies Rose, a 130-foot crab boat, went down in icy, turbulent conditions in the Gulf of Alaska on New Year’s Eve. Two crew members survived.


The Coast Guard’s 20-hour search for survivors will be featured on “Deadliest Catch” at 8 p.m. Tuesday (Eastern time).

“It’s hard to drum all this up again, really,” Wichrowski said. “You lose friends. You lose family. And the part that sticks is that any time, it could be you.”

Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski is in the wheelhouse at the helm of the Summer Bay.

The episode of the long-running reality series follows the Coast Guard’s role from the time it received a distress call until the search, which covered 1,400 square miles, was suspended.

Although Wichrowski was not in contact directly with the Coast Guard during that time, he followed the rescue mission’s progress closely.

“They’re our lifeline,” Wichrowski said. “Some of the stuff they do with the helicopters and the C-130s and the ships and the hard-bottom inflatables [boats] is truly amazing. The Coast Guard’s our last chance for survival when we’re having trouble.”

The investigation into the Scandies Rose disaster is ongoing and could last “many months,” said Scott McCann, the Coast Guard’s public affairs officer for the 17th District.

Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski stands proudly on deck of his boat.

Wichrowski’s own ties to the military began early.

His father, Charles Thomas Wichrowski, was a drill instructor at Parris Island in South Carolina during the Korean War. The youngest of three brothers, Wichrowski said he did not always appreciate his strict upbringing in Pennsylvania.

“I probably didn’t really like [my father] that much at the time, but he was training me to be a leader from Day One,” Wichrowski said. “In his eyes, there was only one place to be, and that was in charge.”

Wichrowski’s tour in the Navy happened almost by accident.

Before he wrecked his father’s new car on homecoming night, he had planned to go to school and study business administration. The cost of the repairs, along with other financial constraints in his family, prompted Wichrowski to enlist in 1975.

Armed with a love of the ocean, he headed West. He served as an electrician’s mate at naval stations in California, Idaho and Washington State.

Wichrowski enjoyed the camaraderie and travel in the military and proved to be invaluable in stressful situations. He recalled one time a typhoon in Taiwan knocked out a generator. Wichrowski ran to the other end of the tossed ship on a wall, hurdling people along the way, to work on it.

On another occasion in San Diego, Wichrowski was about to go on liberty when a transformer caught fire. He was not on duty, but he restored the power anyway, then left suddenly to meet his girlfriend before other potential issues arose.

“When I got back, the XO [executive officer] on the bridge, he had seen the whole thing,” Wichrowski said. “And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to get my butt reamed.’ But he said he was pretty amazed about how quickly I reacted.”

Wichrowski said the bonds of boat crews are similar to those in the military. Photo courtesy of Discovery.

Wichrowski, who served for four years, said what he learned in the Navy resonates today.

“It’s the whole reason why I’m successful,” he said.

The bonds formed among boat crews are not unlike those developed in the military. That’s why the sinking of the Scandies Rose hit Wichrowski hard. He knew the boat’s captain, Gary Cobban Jr., and engineer, Art Gacanias, well, but thankfully the loss of life was not worse.

Landon Cheney, Wichrowski’s No. 2 man on the Summer Bay, used to work on the Scandies Rose and considered returning before it sank.

“I’m pretty certain that if he was on board, he wouldn’t have made it,” Wichrowski said.

As painful as the loss of the Scandies Rose remains, Wichrowski intends to watch Tuesday night.

“I hope to,” he said. “… It should never be forgotten, but it’s still tough to review over and over.”

Visit Deadliest Catch on Discovery for information on upcoming episodes.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.