Yesterday, we revealed that the new movie “Top Gun: Maverick” will feature what appears to be a Russian Su-57, but that’s not the only fictional-fighter shown in the movie’s trailers. Another scene seems to show Maverick flying a next-generation fighter dubbed “Darkstar,” according to the movie’s Matchbox toy line.
The Darkstar aircraft shown only briefly at the end of the movie’s trailer is very clearly not based on anything in operation today… but that doesn’t mean it’s without an analogous real-world platform. While we get a quick peek at the underbelly of the streamlined jet in the trailer, Matchbox’s toy line has actually offered us the best view of this aircraft to date.
Based on the shockwave visible as the jet passes overhead in the trailer, it seems likely that this exotic-looking aircraft will introduce hypersonic platforms to the Top Gun universe. Supersonic aircraft (Top Gun’s F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Super Hornet) are capable of flying faster than the speed of sound (Mach 1). Hypersonic aircraft travel much faster — in excess of Mach 5, or around 3800 miles per hour.
Russia and China both claim to have hypersonic missiles in operation, with the United States lagging slightly behind. Thus far, no public aviation program has announced plans to build a hypersonic fighter plane, but there are programs already in motion that could certainly produce one.
The SR-72 in “Top Gun?”
Lockheed Martin, for instance, has been working on developing a successor to the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest military aircraft in history, that they claim will be able to fly at speeds even higher than Mach 6. Engine testing has already taken place, and it’s feasible that technology demonstrators for the aircraft may already exist. Interestingly enough… the Darkstar toy bears a striking resemblance to Lockheed’s own artist’s depictions of what the forthcoming SR-72 may look like.
There are some differences between the two — most notably the use of two vertical stabilizer fins on the back of the “Darkstar,” with only one central stabilizer on the SR-72. However, because the Lockheed Martin image is nothing more than a conceptual drawing, the final platform (if it ever comes to fruition) could feasibly have either.
If the Darkstar is indeed a stand-in for the SR-72, it may not be intended as a fighter, but rather as a high speed, high altitude reconnaissance platform like its SR-71 predecessor. However, thanks to highly capable spy satellites, this semi-fictional aircraft may well be armed (in the movie, and in real life).
The Walt Disney Company lit up the internet on Dec. 10, announcing exciting new projects for Marvel, NatGeo, ESPN, Pixar, and more. But let’s talk about what’s important: Star Wars.
The Star Wars galaxy is expanding into new feature films, live action series, and animated series, so let’s go over everything that’s coming in 2021 and beyond.
1. Rangers of the New Republic
The first of two spinoffs to The Mandalorian, Rangers of the New Republic will take place during the timeline of the Mandalorian. Not much is known about who these rangers will be (my vote is for a Bo-Katan series…others might be hoping for more Timothy Olyphant) but it is rumored to contain crossover events with its sister series, which leads us to…
Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian was just too good to not be a backdoor pilot. Ahsoka Tano, a beloved Jedi drop-out from The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, will be played by Rosario Dawson as she tracks down Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Starring Diego Luna once more as the titular Cassian Andor (from Rogue One), Andor has already begun filming in London and is set to release in 2022. Watch the trailer above for what few glimpses we’ve been given so far!
4. Obi-Wan Kenobi
We knew that Ewan McGregor would reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, but now we know that he will be joined by Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader. Set to take place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith (and nine years before A New Hope), the announcement of Vader definitely makes things interesting!
5. The Bad Batch
Fans of The Clone Wars should be excited about The Bad Batch, and if we’ve learned anything from The Mandalorian, it’s that the events of Clone Wars and Rebels have a clear impact on live-action canonical characters. Announced earlier in 2020, The Bad Batch “follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch — a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army — each possess a singular exceptional skill which makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. In the post-Clone War era, they will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose.”
6. Star Wars: Visions
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced that there will be ten “fantastic visions” told through the lens of the world’s best Japanese anime creators. Little else is know about these animated short films, but they will definitely look spectacular.
Remember that moment at the end of Rise of Skywalker when Lando sat down next to the ex-enslaved Stormtrooper, Jannah (Naomi Ackie)? It was kind of a forced moment, but I suspect this is why. Helmed by Justin Simien (Dear White People), the series that can easily launch with Lando helping Jannah look into where she came from.
I still maintain that it’s upsetting to know that so many of the Stormtroopers we’ve watched die are not Imperial volunteers but child soldiers…but…maybe an incredible and enlightened creator like Simien can help this make sense.
8. The Acolyte
Leslye Headland is the creator of Russian Doll, one of the most clever uses of the “groundhog day” device ever. This already has Netflix Jessica Jones or Daredevil vibes all over it. The idea of a darker, grittier, mystery-thrillier Star Wars has me amped.
To prepare you with knowledge about the High Republic era, check out Star Wars: The High Republic, a collection of original stories spanning a variety of comics, books, and more starting in January 2021.
9. A Droid Story
A Droid Story will be an animated series starring R2-D2 and C-3PO for Disney+. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced, “As we continue to develop new stories, the intersection of animation and visual effects offers new opportunities for us to explore. This epic journey will introduce us to a new hero guided by our most iconic duu…on a secret mission known only to them. What could possibly go wrong?”
10. Untitled Taika Waititi feature film
While Jojo Rabbit may have garnered Waititi an Oscar, it was with Thor: Ragnarok that he captured my attention. Waititi is clever, funny, cool, and talented so it’s no surprise that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy promised his film to be a wild ride.
11. Rogue Squadron
This one is so exciting we wrote an entire article about it. Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins is determined to create the “greatest fighter pilot movie of all time.” She picked the right airframe — the T-65B X-Wing space superiority fighter has legendary status ever since Luke Skywalker jumped in the cockpit. Survivors of his Red Squadron at the Battle of Yavin would go on to form Rogue Squadron, named for the heroes of Rogue One.
Rogue Squadron was founded by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, but this film should take place after The Rise of Skywalker and take us into “a new era” of flight.
Look, video games are awesome and military video games are doubly so. But video game companies are not even trying to capture real deployed life. As they continue bragging about their realistic sound effects and HD graphics, here are 9 features that would actually help gamers get a real combat experience.
1. Make players rehearse a mission four times and then send them on a different one.
The player is briefed on a mission to capture or kill a high-value target. They have to watch a rehearsal on a sand table, then practice in an open field, and finally they assault some fake buildings with their squad to be sure everyone is on the same page.
They climb onto the birds but halfway to the target are diverted to capture an undefended dam before terrorists can blow it up. The player’s squad defends it for three days against nothing before returning to base. A friendly engineer squad then blows up the dam.
2. All calls for fire take at least 10 minutes and miss the first three times.
Artillery units rarely hit their target on the first try in the real world and even airstrikes have trouble getting it right a lot of times. Yet video games which allow a player to call in an airstrike always show rounds cascading down on the exact spot the player asks for.
Instead, the player should have to adjust fire over three or four iterations before actually killing anything. They should also have to wait at least 10 minutes from the first call until the fire mission is fired and rounds begin falling on the target.
3. Random mistakes by other members of your team.
Every once in a while, a squad mate should get their gear stuck on a door handle, trip on their own rucksack strap, or slip on a wet spot in the ground and fall. The player has to decide whether to help their buddy or continue firing at the enemy while attempting to stifle their laughter.
4. Include a 40-lb haptic bodysuit that punches you when you’re shot.
When the player is going into battle, they’re usually wearing a hoodie, some boxers, and a fine layer of chip crumbs. But soldiers wear 40 pounds of armor plus whatever other gear they’re carrying at that moment. So, players should be given a vest that weighs as much as the armor.
As an added bonus, motors and weights could be used to punch the player where their character was just shot. And they could carry an 8-pound controller.
5. Your inventory always includes at least 3 items you’ll never use.
The player should have a limited inventory space, some of which is taken up with “just-in-case” items that never get used. It could be gas masks, backup batteries, whatever. If the player tries to throw them away, the items show up on later patrols as booby traps.
6. Weapon misfires
Anytime the player crawls through mud or sand, it should increase the chance that their weapon misfires. Every 100 rounds without a cleaning should increase the chance of a misfire as well.
7. Can only level up after passing a PT test and reciting random facts from memory
After the player completes a few missions while exhausted from the countless rehearsals in the heavy bodysuit, overcomes misfires at critical moments, and has proven their ability to carry around useless equipment, they should be given the opportunity to level up.
To get selected for the higher level, they just have to score in at least the 80th percentile on a physical training test and recite the muzzle velocities of at least three weapons. Otherwise, the player is sent back to the tent to study. It doesn’t matter what their kill-to-death ratio is. Side note: KTD ratios are not a thing either.
Carl Reiner, the comedic presence that was know for various roles across many generations passed away yesterday at the age of 98 according to a statement from his son, Rob Reiner via Twitter.
Reiner’s career spanned decades from TV to the movies and gave us all millions of laughs along the way. But before his legendary Hollywood career, Reiner, like many from his great generation served our country during one of its darkest hours and put a smile on soldiers’ faces while doing it.
Reiner was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1922 to an immigrant Jewish family. In 1943, Reiner joined the Army Air Forces. He was originally slated to be a radio operator but contracted pneumonia and was sent to the hospital to recover for several months.
After recuperating, Reiner was sent to train as a French translator. While there at Georgetown, he got his first taste of directing. After learning French, the Army decided to send Carl to the next best logical place…Hawaii. There, he worked as a teletype operator. One day before he was to be shipped off on assignment, he saw a Special Services production of Hamlet. He managed to do a quick audition and was immediately transferred into Special Services himself. He spent the rest of the war touring the South Pacific while performing for GIs in places like Guam, Saipan and Iwo Jima. He was honorably discharged as a corporal in 1946.
Reiner later wrote about his time in the military, including his famous audition and how his buddies almost got court martialed for passing on a message that Japan surrendered three days early.
After his time in military service, Reiner started two enduring partnerships. He was cast to work with Sid Caesar in “Your Show of Shows.” While working with Caesar, he also met another World War II veteran who was a writer on the show. Mel Brooks and Reiner hit it off and began a partnership that culminated in the legendary routine, “The 2000 Year Old Man.” The routine made its way into five comedy albums, numerous TV show appearances and an animated series.
2000 Year Old Man Mel Brooks Carl Reiner Hollywood Palace 1966
Reiner also started working on a show based on his life. It was later turned into the massively popular Dick Van Dyke Show. He worked as a writer but also started cutting his teeth as a director. He worked on two incredible comedies, “Oh God” and “The Jerk” starring Steve Martin. Reiner directed and/or co-wrote three other Steve Martin films, helping him when his career took up in the late 70s.
The Jerk (7/10) Movie CLIP – He Hates These Cans! (1979) HD
“If your reserve parachute doesn’t work, the procedure is…basically you’re gonna hand salute the world and you’re gonna hit the dirt…because you’re gonna die,” said former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink without much to indicate whether he’s cracking a joke or not.
The retired Lieutenant Commander and recipient of the Silver Star and Bronze Star saw multiple combat deployments, including the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq. After his military career, he created a popular podcast, Jocko Podcast; co-founded Echelon Front, a premier leadership consulting company; and co-authored books like the #1 New York Times bestseller Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.
He’s nothing if not a commanding presence, which makes his commentary on combat scenes from movies all the more entertaining. Willink doesn’t hold back.
Navy SEAL Jocko Willink Breaks Down Combat Scenes From Movies | GQ
Willink starts by breaking down the HALO (High Altitude Low Open) jump from Navy SEALS. He goes pretty deep into the mechanics of a HALO jump and mission logistics that are worth watching in the video above, but here’s a highlight:
“In all branches of the military, you rely on each other to make sure you’re safe. The guy’s checking the other person’s pins on his rig to make sure they’re going to deploy the parachute properly…and then he’s messing with him, which is pretty normal, too. If you know someone’s scared of parachuting, then he’s gonna get messed with a little bit more. Never let anyone know you’re scared of something. Just keep it to yourself,” Willink shared — and again…if he’s amused, you’ll never know. The guy has a straight-up poker face.
He goes on to describe what happens when a parachute malfunctions.
“There’s a bunch of things that can go wrong with a parachute. I had one malfunction in my career,” Willink reflected. “What do you do when your parachute doesn’t open? You follow procedures. We train really hard to know what the procedures are.”
He shared his own story of cutting away his main chute and pulling his reserve — which is also demonstrated in the Navy SEALs clip in the video above.
Willink moved on to the amphibious operations of Act of Valor.
“Just because you’re on the SEAL Teams does not mean you’re a sniper. Sniper is a specialized school that guys go to. And there’s a bunch of different schools: you could be a communication expert, you could be a medic…” Willink illustrated.
Willink had a few problems.
“Let me pause it right here. It’s just kind of … not realistic at all. I guess they’re trying to make it look cool. It always surprises me a little bit because … it’s the best job in the world. You don’t really need to do anything to make it look cool. It is cool,” he affirmed.
From ghillie suits to breaching operations to catching a target before he hits the water, Willink has something to say — and it’s not always a critique. He has a lot of knowledge and experience, so it’s cool to hear him break down what’s going on in the scene and why the operators are doing what they do.
Check out the video above to see Willink’s thoughts on additional films like American Sniper,Zero Dark Thirty, Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor.
Imagine a Michigan student spending a semester at Ohio State. Or a UT student going to Oklahoma University. Getting sent to a rival should would be intense – and that’s exactly what Army and Navy have been doing for decades.
Every year, juniors at West Point and the Naval Academy switch places, spending an entire semester in enemy territory. Before they go back to their respective institutions, they go through the “prisoner exchange” at the annual Army-Navy Game.
Rivalries exist between all branches of the military – and college students are no different. The Army-Navy rivalry is so intense because it’s so old, but like all those other rivalries, it’s all in good fun. At the end of the day, the Cadets and Mids are still U.S. troops and we all fight on the same team.
That doesn’t mean they don’t get to have fun. The “Prisoner Exchange” is a time-honored tradition – one of many.
As for the differences between the academies, Cadet Tyrus Jones said it’s all about academy culture.
“Life is different because everything is centered around the Navy,” Jones told Army Public Affairs. “It’s a little bit of a different lifestyle and culture between the two services. It has to do with our history and how it’s evolved over the years.”
On April 8, 2019, Marvel previewed the first clip from “Avengers: Endgame” on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The video begins with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), realizing that Thanos has used the stones again.
Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), jumps in to insist they team up and “get him” and use the stones “to bring everyone back.” She says it’ll be different this time because now, she’s involved.
James Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), gets annoyed and asks Captain Marvel to explain where she’s been all this time.
“There are a lot of other planets in the universe,” she responds. “And unfortunately, they didn’t have you guys.”
Bruce Banner, aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), seems very apprehensive about the plan, but what else is new?
It’s winter blockbuster season, and this year, you don’t even have to brave the snow or leave the comfort of your couch.
Ryan Reynolds stars in 6 Underground, which centers around six individuals from around the globe who have been chosen to join a tight-knit team on a mission to topple a dictator. And though they all have, you know, a particular set of skills, they’re mainly there to escape their pasts—by faking their deaths.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to switch whatever you’re watching right now—it’s a Friday afternoon, we know you’ve got Netflix open already—these are the six reasons you should settle in right now for some classic high-stakes action:
1. Michael Bay is back!
What can we say? We love action movies, and no one delivers like Michael Bay.
True to form, 6 Underground is back in the director’s seat of a high octane action flick, littered with explosions, car chases, and enough infrastructure damage to remind you that it’s pretty nice living in the real world.
2. Call outs specifically for the military community
In the beginning of the film you can see “The Operator” wearing a Black Rifle Coffee Company shirt, and in a different scene he’s wearing a Bottle Breacher shirt. It’s the little things that make his character authentic.
We’re all about authenticity with military characters, and these are the details that really make his background—even more than the training and badass moves—shine through. Civilians may not notice, but we definitely appreciate these call outs.
3. Their cast got put through their military paces/training
Of course, there was plenty of military training involved! With guns and explosions dominating the film, it’s no surprise that the case trained with one of the best—Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke, whose fascinating life story rivals those of the film’s characters.
The actors spent several weeks with Adeleke, and Corey Hawkins, who portrays “The Operator,” describes the grueling obstacle courses Remi put them through on top of weapons and ammunition training.
4. Ryan Reynolds at his finest
The man who brought you two cinematic versions of Daredevil is perfect in Michael Bay’s combo of badassery, high-stakes, and comedic timing. If you weren’t already expecting one-liners, you are now.
We have no idea how he hasn’t managed to work with Michael Bay until now, but this is an action movie match made in heaven.
5. The bad guy gets what’s coming to him
Of course you saw this coming, but we always like to see the hero overcome evil. He’s not based in reality, but, you know, that never mattered to other action movies — remember Schwarzenegger’s nemesis in Commando from the fictional country Val Verde?
Call us old-fashioned. We don’t care. We’ll be munching away on popcorn watching some sweet, sweet justice.
6. Did we mention explosions?
Explosions in explosions in explosions. Explosion-ception.
As a lieutenant in the Navy, I was around when Paramount Studio was working on “Hunt for Red October”. They needed some crash footage to run with, so we helped out. That’s where Hollywood started one of their biggest technical errors to date.
F-9 Cougar hitting the ramp of the USS Midway (CV 41) during the Korean War. For some reason that only Paramount Pictures might be able to explain, the film of this mishap was used to represent an F-14 Tomcat crashing in the movie “The Hunt for Red October.”
In the fall of 1989 I was a lieutenant in the Navy on a shore tour serving as the editor of Approach magazine, which is the Naval Safety Center’s aviation safety publication. Among my duties was to produce the “Crash n’ Bash” video — a collection of aircraft carrier mishap footage set to music — for use at the command’s booth during the annual Tailhook Convention in Las Vegas.
In the days before YouTube and Facebook this sort of video was very unique, and the Naval Safety Center’s booth was very popular as a result. Most people hadn’t seen this footage and setting the crashes to music was a brand new idea at the time.
Among those who saw the video was Paramount Studio’s production team working on the film “Hunt for Red October,” based on Tom Clancy’s wildly popular debut novel. A few weeks after I got back from the convention one of the producers called me and explained that he was working with the Navy’s public affairs reps and they had instructed him to call me to obtain the footage they’d seen at Tailhook. I asked him what sort of airplane they needed to show crashing. The producer said an F-14.
After verifying it was cool with my immediate superior, I FEDEX’d Paramount the master copy of the full video, which contained a bunch of crash footage of various airplanes, including some F-14s.
Fast forward a few months to me watching the movie in a theater in Virginia Beach and being very surprised with the following scene:
You can see they show an F-14 on the screen behind actor Fred Thompson (playing the fleet commander who figures out what to do with a determined Jack Ryan played by Alec Baldwin). But as the airplane gets closer it magically switches into a Korean War-era F-9 Panther that plows into the carrier’s ramp and then rolls down the deck. What was Hollywood thinking? (The pilot in that mishap survived with nothing more than minor burns to his wrists, by the way. I met him at Tailhook.) For some reason the Paramount filmmakers also reversed the image, so not only is it the wrong airplane, it’s the wrong airplane backwards.
If you go to the 1:42 mark of this video you can see more of the F-9’s approach, ramp strike, and aftermath;
I still don’t know why they picked that footage of all the stuff they had at their disposal. Gotta love Hollywood, I guess . . .
It’s just about here – the sequel aviation and military buffs have been patiently waiting for.
“Top Gun: Maverick” was supposed to fly onto the big screen in July but was pushed back to December due to COVID-19. The sequel with Tom Cruise returning in the starring role as hotshot naval aviator LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a graduate of the U.S. Navy’s elite TOPGUN school and a career fighter pilot flying the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.
Though not a whole lot of information about the new movie has been released just yet, it’s generally understood that Maverick will be an instructor or something similar, teaching the next generation of fighter pilots how to push themselves and their aircraft to the limit.
While a lot has changed in the three decades since Maverick first set foot on TOPGUN’s campus at NAS Miramar (now a Marine Corps base), one thing remains absolutely certain — Maverick really shouldn’t be anywhere near the school, especially as an instructor.
From his downright reckless flying to his cavalier attitude, this aviator is no example for new TOPGUN candidates, and he definitely shouldn’t be in a position to instruct them.
Here are four reasons why Maverick might actually be the worst possible choice to be a TOPGUN instructor in the sequel:
1. He wasn’t even the best pilot at Top Gun!
Far from it.
In fact, Maverick didn’t even come close to winning the top graduate award at the end of the program, losing his edge and competitiveness after his radar intercept officer, Lt. JG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, died during a training exercise gone wrong.
In convincing him to return to the program, “Viper” — TOPGUN’s head honcho in the movie — lets the depressed soon-to-be washout know that he has enough points to graduate with the rest of his class… but certainly not enough to achieve the award for best pilot.
Instead, it’s Maverick’s classmate and fierce rival, Lt. Tom “Iceman” Kazanski who took the plaque for first place (and gains the option to return to TOPGUN as an instructor). If anything, being that the program is designed to mature the most capable of all Navy fighter pilots currently serving, shouldn’t they only learn from the best?
2. He’s definitely not a team player
This is alarmingly evident from the very beginning of the movie, when the young pilot and his backseater decide to leave a fellow Tomcat behind and completely exposed to do a little showboating.
Instead of covering his wingman, Maverick pulls his F-14 over an enemy MiG-28 for Goose to take vanity images with a Polaroid camera. Meanwhile, “Cougar” and “Merlin” — the two aircrew of the other F-14 — are mercilessly hounded by another MiG fighter, causing Cougar to lose his edge and turn in his wings after nearly crashing his jet.
Over at Miramar, Maverick once again draws the ire of his fellow classmates by leaving them behind during training exercises, choosing instead to selfishly pursue Viper while allowing his wingmen to take a hit.
3. He’s too reckless and narcissistic
Every time Maverick goes up, he flies dangerously.
It’s a chronic problem and he doesn’t know how to solve it. From buzzing control towers to his inverted encounter with the MiG-28 to his training sorties at TOPGUN, Maverick just doesn’t know how to turn off his recklessness.
At times, he’s even been known to disobey direct orders from commanding officers. His superiors call him out on it repeatedly, from his time in the fleet aboard the USS Enterprise to his antics at TOPGUN, darting below the “hard deck” to get a radar lock on one of his instructors.
Perhaps this is a result of his inherent narcissism… a trait unbecoming of a potential TOPGUN instructor pilot. The young naval aviator is frankly way too self-absorbed to be an instructor given his penchant for doing things that would ultimately give himself the glory.
4. He’s way too old to be an instructor anyways
Let’s do the math here — “Top Gun” was released in 1986, over 3 decades ago. By the time the sequel makes its appearance on the silver screen, 34 years will have elapsed since Maverick’s stint at the former NAS Miramar. Let’s add another four years to that, since Maverick was a lieutenant back when he first entered the TOPGUN program… which brings us to a grand total of 37 years.
The vast majority of military officers don’t even have careers that long! Given Maverick’s penchant for angering people in authority over him, it’s unlikely that he’d still be in the Navy, though it’s also possible that he got relegated to a desk job, ending his flying career, where he might remain today.
With that being said, fighter pilots also have a “shelf life.” There’s only so much wear and tear that their bodies can take from the physical and mental stress of flying high-performance fighter aircraft, and most tend to either leave the cockpit due to advancement, or out of a personal choice to accept a less-strenuous job elsewhere (within or outside the service) within 15-20 years.
OF COURSE we’re going to see the new “Top Gun” when it comes out. But we’ll be looking to make sure that if Maverick is indeed an instructor, he’s matured from his previously reckless ways.
screenshot from the original Hunt for Red October trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Goskt8SKMZU.
Another decade, another round of kick-tail movies that made it mainstream. The 90s, of course, made their mark on the population by introducing grunge, different genres of music — namely heavy metal and hip hop — and alternative media. No longer did people have to rely on mainstream sources to get their news or entertainment. Small indie brands began breaking out by the thousands, offering alternatives to big media outlets.
For movies, it was also a huge breakthrough for the war genre. Companies started putting BIG budgets on war films. Likely due to growing success in years past and focus on the Gulf War, studio execs began to take a chance on making big picture operations. This made way for some of the more memorable war movies to-date, including:
The Hunt for Red October, 1990
One of the decade’s first war epics came with The Hunt for Red October, based on Tom Clancey’s debut novel of the same name. The flick starred Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, and James Earl Jones. Set during the Cold War, the submarine spy thriller movie covers a Soviet Navy soldier who’s looking to defect to the U.S. Meanwhile, the CIA guesses this plan and has to prove it.
2. Schindler’s List, 1993
Schindler’s List has earned a title as one of the greatest films of all time. Based on the non-fiction novel, Schindler’s Ark, the movie follows a rescue mission of more than 1,000 people from Holocaust factories during World War II. Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley star and the film was directed by Steven Spielberg. It earned $322 million against a $22 million budget and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, and five additional categories. In 2004, the movie was named “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was named as a preservation by the National Film Registry.
3. Forrest Gump, 1994
Another major box office success comes in Forrest Gump, which brought in more than $677 million — the second-most earning film for the year. Starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Sally Field, a portion of the movie follows the title character through basic training and during the Vietnam War. Gump fights his best friend, who is lost in the war, and his injured lieutenant. He saves the latter and the two become successful business owners, honoring their late friend. Forest Gump was also listed for preservation by the Library of Congress and the United States National Film Registry.
4. Braveheart, 1995
There’s no doubt that Braveheart was a box office hit, earning more than $200 million. The film is a fictionalized version of a Scottish warrior in the late 13th century fighting the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I. Mel Gibson stars, directed, and co-produced the film. Braveheart was written after an epic poem by Blind Harry, which portrayed the life of the main character, William Wallace.
5. Operation Dumbo Drop, 1995
Taking place during Vietnam, comedy Operation Dumbo Drop stars Danny Glover and Ray Liotta on their mission to move an elephant to a South Vietnamese town. The film is based on a true story and depicts the U.S.’s ability to travel Viet Cong movement in the area. The film recouped its budget in movie theaters, but made little profit and earned negative reviews. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a household favorite.
6. The Thin Red Line, 1998
Based on a 1962 book of the same name, The Thin Red Line we all know and love is actually the second film adaptation of the title. The story follows the Battle of Mount Austen during World War II. Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Adrien Brody, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, John C. Reilly, and John Travola appear in this star-studded cast. The movie earned seven Academy Award nominations and was named “the greatest contemporary war film I’ve ever seen” by famous film critic Gene Siskel.
7. Mulan, 1998
Sure it’s a cartoon, but Mulan is still a favorite war flick — and it’s one the entire family can enjoy. In this Disney film, Mulan pretends to take her father’s place in the Imperial Chinese Army in order to fight the Huns. Released as part of the Disney Renaissance, Mulan is based off the Chinese folklore of Hua Mulan, who is said to have been a brave warrior and recognized by the Emperor. The film earned more than $300 million and remains a beloved classic from its time.
8. Saving Private Ryan, 1998
Another Steven Spielberg war film comes in Saving Private Ryan. The film takes place where a mission goes to save the last of four brothers, after the other three were killed in WWII. (It’s based on a true story of the Niland brothers.) Tom Hanks, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, and Matt Damon star in the second-most earning film of the year, drawing in $482 million.
9. Three Kings, 1999
This movie takes place during the uprisings in Iraq after the end of the Gulf War. The satirical black comedy was written by famous screenwriter, John Ridley. Following four characters on a gold heist in 1991, the cast includes George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze. The movie was successful at the box office and remains a comedy war flick classic to this day.
Rambo. Just the name brings to mind a mix of hyper-masculine imagery and badassery. Big guns, big knives, and big, luscious hair. It doesn’t get more classic 1980s action hero than Rambo.
Despite First Blood’s now iconic status, here are some interesting facts you might not know about this blockbuster.
A War you won’t believe
What do you think the body count for First Blood is — 20, 30, 300? I mean, it would have to be high, right? It’s Rambo! The film is centered around a hardened Vietnam War-era Green Beret running around with a giant knife and an M60 waging a one-man war against a local sheriff and his deputies and the National Guard. Well, this hardened killer showed more restraint than lethality in his debut feature, racking up a surprising number of kills: one. That’s right, one kill … and he did it with a rock … by accident. Go watch it again if you don’t believe me.
Stallone wasn’t the first choice for the role
Several actors were considered for the role of Rambo before Sylvester Stallone was cast as the lead. Al Pacino considered the role, but he ultimately turned it down, as he felt that Rambo wasn’t eccentric or crazy enough — this likely came as a surprise to no one. James Garner, a Korean War veteran with two Purple Hearts, also turned it down as he felt the lead character represented veterans poorly. Paul Newman, who was considered not only for the role of Rambo but also Rocky, declined, too. Clint Eastwood also was considered, but he ultimately declined as he was too busy being an absolute legend.
People got hurt
As one might expect with the filming of an action movie, a few people were injured during the making of First Blood. Most notably, in the scene where Rambo escapes the local jail, he slide-kicks and then elbows a sheriff’s deputy in the face, leaving him lying on the floor screaming in pain. Fun fact: Those screams were real. Stallone broke the stuntman’s nose during that take, and they used the footage in the final film.
Also, during the chase scene following Rambo’s jailbreak, a stuntman flipped a cruiser going 70 mph and rolled it several hundred feet, causing the stuntman to sustain a broken back among several other injuries. Stallone also managed to break a rib on a tree branch during filming. It’s rumored the branch will make a comeback as Sly’s next opponent in the 20th sequel to Rocky.
The actual military had to get involved
Filming of First Blood actually took place in Canada, and due to Canada’s strict gun laws, these weapons had to be imported from the United States. Unfortunately, $50,000 worth of those firearms were stolen from the set and never recovered. The weapons were modified to fire blanks but could have been changed back to fire live rounds. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian military were brought in to provide security for the set after the theft.
The movie came from a much more violent novel
Believe it or not, the movie actually is based on a 1972 novel called First Blood by David Morrell. The film and book are comparatively similar, but they do have a few distinct differences. Sylvester Stallone himself wanted the changes to make Rambo more palatable to moviegoers. Some notable changes from novel to movie: Rambo didn’t carry around a giant knife in the novel, he killed a lot of people, and at the end of the novel, he dies. Stallone decided to dial back Rambo’s killing ways to make him more likable and sympathetic. Did it work? That’s for you to decide.
The Harry Potter books and movies are iconic works of fiction for the younger generations. While the various plots are set in a magical, adjacent version of our own world, the stories take place almost entirely within the encapsulated, magical world. Except that it’s officially canon that wizards (and dragons) fought in WWI.
In Warner Brother’s 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the awkward Newt Scamander, as played by Eddie Redmayne, comes to America to continue his journey of writing a book on magical animals. He bumps into the non-magical Jacob Kowalski, as played by Dan Fogler, and the plot kicks off. Initially, the two characters don’t understand or like each other until they have a heart-to-heart conversation.
They bond when Kowalski tells Scamander about his service in WWI. Scamander asks, “you fought in the war?” Kowalski says, “of course I fought in the war. Everyone fought in the war. You didn’t fight in the war?” To which Scamander replies,
I worked mostly with dragons, Ukrainian Ironbellies, Eastern Front.
It’s a deep scene that ends with the two forming a brotherhood rooted in shared service.
Yes. That means, in the Harry Potter universe, WWI occurred just as it did in the real world. There were gigantic battles involving wizards and dragons that took place alongside the normal WWI trench-warfare.
This is confirmed through J.K. Rowling’s other works on Pottermore, which is a cannon supplementary site on which the author expands her universe. She describes that wizards were barred from helping the normal world, but did anyway. This was actually a huge turning point in the overall story because it’s one of the reasons why wizards don’t interact with non-wizards.
To top it all off, she also wrote about Henry Potter, Harry’s great-grandfather and namesake. Henry Potter was one of the British Wizards who participated in the trench warfare of WWI. His friendship with the non-magical world also played a huge role in Harry’s backstory because it’s why his family was shunned by most of the magical community.