What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life turns 74 this year and watching it is a Christmas tradition in my home. The film hearkens to a bygone era where characters from the Greatest Generation grow up before our eyes. We feel their joy, sorrow and redemption on a personal level. It’s funny, sad and triumphant all at once. Having served three combat tours, this film now holds an important place in my heart. What it teaches today’s veterans makes it more than just a holiday film.

How many realize that the discouraged character of George Bailey is played by a real life war hero? In 1941, Jimmy Stewart received an Academy Award for Best Actor, but weeks later he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. With his significant civilian flying experience and degree, he was soon commissioned as a pilot, performing publicity and flight instruction duties. Stewart was not satisfied, and eventually fought his way into an assignment flying B-24 Liberator bombers, rising to Chief of Staff for the 2nd Combat Wing, 8th Air Force. On one of his 20 bombing missions over Nazi Europe his unit lost 13 planes and 130 men to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. But the horrors he witnessed had made him “flak happy,” crushing him mentally. Reluctantly, Stewart was sent home to recover.

When he returned from the war he was haunted by what he had experienced in combat. Fearing that his Hollywood career might be over, he returned to California looking for work. Fresh young actors were taking roles that previously would have been Stewart’s for the picking. The stress of war made the 37 year old look more like he was 50, dashing his hopes of being a leading man again. Jimmy knew he had to do something. At first he wanted to do a comedy, as he felt there was enough sorrow in the world at the time. Eventually, director Frank Capra convinced him to play the lead role of George Bailey.  

Filming the classic movie was arduous, with a visibly changed Stewart struggling tremendously with Post Traumatic Stress. It was obvious to the cast and crew that Stewart was drawing heavily from the anguish and fear he felt flying over Nazi Germany. That’s what makes his performance so meaningful. A near-suicidal George Bailey was really Jimmy Stewart trying desperately to come to grips with the nightmare of World War 2. Watch the film again and see the raw emotion on full display. As Stewart prays desperately at Martini’s bar for help from God, you see a man absolutely broken. Those on the set were understandably shocked at what was happening. Stewart was unleashing a torrent of emotion, baring his very soul for all to see. It’s as pure a performance as you’ll find in cinema. This was the role that likely saved the actor’s career and perhaps set him on the path to true recovery.

Stewart’s career was back on track. He had reclaimed his place as America’s leading man. Serving his country was in his blood though. He refused to allow his tough wartime experience to define him. Stewart pushed through his pain. In something never seen in today’s entertainment industry, Stewart even continued serving in the Air Force Reserve. He flew his last bombing mission in Vietnam and retired as a Brigadier General in 1968. He re-defined himself as an actor and never forgot the importance of selfless service. It was his willingness to embrace the tragedies in his life that transformed him, and it is an example for today’s veterans to follow.

I once saw a young patient dying in front of me as the medics removed him from my MEDEVAC helicopter. It seemed like he was staring through me. After that moment, I couldn’t speak to anyone for some time. It was like I was outside of my body, watching myself experience something over which I had no control. I thought I was weak. Eventually I talked it out with my buddy. Writing my book also helped me. Since then I have realized that I wasn’t weak. I didn’t have a “disorder.” I faced something abnormal and I wasn’t alone. 

There’s an awful lot of George Baileys in this country. They answered the call. They sacrificed their own dreams for others. They defended the disheartened and led from the front. They and their families have given up so much but now they question if their sacrifices were all for nothing. Some are on that snowy bridge next to George Bailey right now, staring into that icy river, that permanent solution to a temporary problem.

If you’re struggling with PTS, stay the course. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. It’s the situation you were in that was wrong. What’s wrong isn’t how you dealt with life and death situations or how you handled the loss of friends. What you did and what you saw was not normal. You aren’t the problem. You are a hero for having survived the trauma. 

Now is the time for you to confront it and then use the experience for good. The clouds will part — I promise you. You are not broken. Reach out to the friends who were there with you and talk. You might think that it’s just to help you, but I believe it might help them too; they just might have been too scared to reach out themselves. 

So… be there this Christmas for an old friend. Call one old buddy this week and just talk. 

“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.” – Clarence

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Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

While he’s more famous for being “The Man In Black,” Johnny Cash served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War and was the first man outside of the Soviet Union to learn of Premier Joseph Stalin’s death.


Cash was born J.R. Cash and was raised in a hardscrabble family in Arkansas. He was forced to begin working at the age of 5 and he began playing and writing his own songs at the age of 12 after one of his brothers was killed in a farming accident.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

At the age of 18 in 1950, J.R. Cash joined the Air Force and was forced to change his name to John. He rose through the ranks and served as a Morse code operator. He spent much of his time quickly decoding communications between Soviet officials.

On March 3, 1953, he was a staff sergeant manning his post in Landsberg, Germany, when a surprising message beeped into his ears. Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, who had suffered from ill health for years, had died.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

The leader of Russia had suffered a massive heart attack that day and died quickly.

The Man In Black passed the message up the chain and returned to work. Cash’s job already required that he have limited off-post privileges and contact with locals. Still, he couldn’t discuss what happened with even his close friends.

The rest of the world would soon learn of Stalin’s death and the ascent of Georgy Malenkov.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
Johnny Cash as a newly signed musician at Sun Records in 1955. (Photo: Sun Records. Public Domain)

Cash, meanwhile, would leave the service honorably just over a year later and return to Texas where he had trained. He married his first wife the same year and signed with Sun Records in 1955.

He played the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time the same year.

Over the following 48 years, Cash wrote thousands of songs and released dozens of albums before his death in September 2003 at the age of 71.

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12 cringeworthy photos of celebrities wearing military uniforms

Stolen valor, Hollywood-style!


Blame the stylist, blame the director, but don’t hate the player, hate the game. Here are 12 cringeworthy photos that will make you want to knifehand these celebrities:

1. 50 Cent

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Attention on deck for General Admiral Gunnery Sergeant Cent.

2. Adrianne Curry

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

As much as we love the self-proclaimed “Mistress of the Dorks,” maybe she should stick to cosplaying as an Imperial Officer instead. She was much more squared away.

3. Jake Lacy

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

This is a Hollywood military fail. Jake Lacy and the costume designer from 2015’s “Love the Coopers” should put out a YouTube video where a drill instructor smokes both of them for the popped collar he wears the whole time.

4. The cast of Enlisted (minus Keith David)

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Look at this. Look at this. Keith David is military movie royalty (“Platoon,” hello?), so it’s little surprise that he knows how to wear an Army uniform. But if he were really the sergeant major he was supposed to be, this photo would feature him tearing new a**holes into the other four for the thousands of problems here.

5. Amber Rose

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Shitty job rolling those BDU sleeves, but at least she tried to crease them. Nails probably not reg, but the only person who would really care is Kanye West.

6. Jeremy Renner

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Jeremy Renner has ruined everything from “The Avengers” to Jason Bourne, and here he is ruining the Army Combat Uniform. Forget for a moment that the ACU didn’t exist when “The Hurt Locker” was supposed to be taking place (realism!), ACU sleeves are rolled approximately never and if they were, they sure as hell wouldn’t have the sea service roll. Also, unless he runs into a fight backwards, pretty sure that U.S. flag is as ass backward as that movie.

7. Samuel L. Jackson

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s easy to make fun of “Basic.” The most prominent reason is because of Samuel L. Jackson’s standard-issue cape. A goddam cape. There is no better example of what a civilian thinks the military would wear than giving someone a cape. The worst (best?) part of “Basic” is that it implies basic training, the one place where we all learned this.

8. Shia LeBeouf

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Ah yes, America’s most famous Valor Thief. The backpack is actually common among civilians, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone wearing it with ACU pants. And even harder pressed to find someone wearing that combo bloused with Desert Combat Boots.

9. Steven Seagal

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Watching this salute is almost as awkward as watching Seagal run.

10. Jessica Simpson

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

WATM’s Logan Nye says the collar is only authorized to be worn this way when a soldier is wearing body armor, but even then it makes you look like an a**hole. The fact that everyone in the unit is wearing it up makes the commander look like an a**hole.

Also, that hair is not authorized in uniform.

11. Channing Tatum

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

To the untrained (or Air Force) eye, Army uniforms always look like a random mishmash of metal and ribbon. Tatum is mostly okay but needs to decide if he’s infantry or special forces.

12. Bill Cosby

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

The only thing really wrong with this uniform is the guy wearing it. (And he’s not an honorary chief anymore.)

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This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about situational awareness

I think this should go without saying, but, here’s your obligatory Spoiler Warning.


If you saw Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 (or you don’t really care about spoilers) then read on. If you haven’t watched the episode but you’re reading articles about the show…here’s an article we did about cats.

Still around? Cool. Let’s get into it.

For last week’s episode, check out – This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Situational awareness isn’t a skill a warfighter picks up overnight. It’s the concept of living your life with your head on a swivel. It’s why so many veterans and active duty troops keep their back to a wall and an eye on the door like they’re Jason Bourne.

This is what Jeff Cooper described in his book “Principles of Personal Defense” as “living in Condition: Yellow.”

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
(Scale by Jeff Cooper via Principles of Personal Defense)

White is being blissfully ignorant and Orange being hyper-vigilant to the point of paranoia. Yellow is the perfect middle ground of quietly observing. It’s also referred to as “relaxed alert.”

Red, Gray, and Black are the states of action with varying degrees of how one reacts in confrontation to a threat. Red or “primed for action” is the desired state when sh*t hits the fan. Grey is a state of chaos and Black is total panic, both causing the war fighter to ignore or forget their surroundings.

We can break down the reactions of how the team of Westeros’ greatest fighters devised a strategy to capture and extract a wight (the reanimated skeletons that fight for the Night King.)

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
Deep in conversation, they’re still watch their surroundings (Photo via Army.mil Screen grab via HBO Go)

As the team of badasses move through the frozen north, they generally maintain Condition: Yellow. Tormund may be joking about his three best ways to keep warm, but he’s still eyeing his surroundings.

It’s only Gendry, the fighter with the least experience, who is in Orange. He’s uneasy about his “squad mates.” He’s never been beyond the wall, or even acclimated to the snow. He’s nervous and it shows.

When the group comes to the open field shrouded in snowfall, the group loses their control of situational awareness. And this is common in every battle.

The Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz said of this: “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.”

This has since been called the “fog of war.” Same concept as in video games, but our heroes also have to contend with a literal fog that hide their enemies as well as allies. With the probable threat nearby, they form up and prepare to engage.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
Note the 360° Perimeter (Photo via Wikimedia Screen grab via HBO Go)

The squad isn’t able to spot the zombie bear in time and after it caught on fire, Sandor Clegane is terrified. He is a prime example of how even the greatest of war fighters can still lose their composure. He’s in Condition: Gray.

They find their stray wight with a white walker and his soldiers. The rest of the steps in maintaining situational awareness are further explained in fighter pilot and military strategist John Boyd’s OODA Loop, which is the constant cycle of Observing, Orienting, Deciding, and Acting.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
(Chart via Wikicommons)

Through the OODA Loop, they observe the valley and have a count how many enemies there are. They orient themselves to position themselves to push through with the exit to their front. They decide who is attacking whom, with John (the only one with a Valerian Steel sword) attacking the leader.

And in action, it works flawlessly. They capture and bind the enemy. But not before it calls for reinforcements.

They send Gendry as a runner to get the message back to Daenerys. Keeping higher command aware of what’s going on in the field is paramount for operation success. But Gendry has another critical mission: to call in air support.

As the undead horde swarms the squad, they come across a lake with thin ice and an island with a high observation point. They use this perfectly to their advantage. The ice shatters, creating a moat-like barrier around their island. They can hold the island long enough for extraction.

If it looks stupid but works — it ain’t stupid.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
A good fighting position makes all the world. (Photo via Army.mil Screen grab via HBO Go)

Operationally, everything has been relatively smooth. Only one character with a name has died so far. It’s cold, but they have eyes on every target, including the enemy leaders — who’s elimination would end their magically undead army. You can point out everything thus far as prime examples of things you should do before and after first contact.

Now comes the example of what happens when you march into battle with no situational awareness, no understanding of your enemy, very little experience, and way too much confidence.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
If everyone is waiting on you…move. (Photo via Defense.mil Screen grab via HBO Go)

Air Extraction has touched down on the landing zone and air support is (literally) lighting up the enemy. Daenerys and her dragons have arrived. Minutes before, she didn’t believe the enemy existed and now she’s fighting the massive army of the dead.

Her dragons have been injured before; Drogon has taken spears from Sons of the Harpy and the Lannister’s Scorpion and he survived. And in battle, we all think we are invincible…until we’re not.

Viserion, the golden dragon of Daenerys, is slain after the Night King impales him with an ice spear.

It was the lack of situational awareness that kept the group from identifying not one but two ice spears. Jon Snow, with all of his experience in combat, really is a slow-learner as far as battle tactics go. He spots the second spear in time to send off a warning, but is left stranded on the battlefield with plan.

Sure, he’s alright and thanks to plot armor he makes it out of there alive, but really Jon, it’s time to start studying combat strategy. It’s almost as if he forgot everything he had learned about situational awareness up until this point…

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 simple things movies get wrong about clearing houses

Hollywood works hard to produce great movies, there’s no doubt about that. Plenty of industry professionals are working around the clock, 7 days per week, to provide top-shelf entertainment to the masses. And while (most) studios try their best to depict military tactics as accurately as possible, they often fall short. One area in particular where they always seem to get things wrong is urban combat — specifically, the most fundamental component: clearing buildings.

Now, don’t get us wrong — there are plenty of movies that nail it perfectly (typically the ones with a good military adviser, hint hint) but we’ve seen plenty of mistakes make it all the way to the silver screen. After all, there’s a reason I’m writing this article.

Here are some of the most basic rules that get broken consistently in movies.


What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

If you’ve got someone watching your back, no worries.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melanie A Wolf)

Never enter a room alone

It’s the cardinal rule of military operations in urban terrain (or, MOUT): You should never, under any circumstances, enter a room by yourself. At minimum, you need to bring one other person with you. If you enter a room alone, you could get cut down by an enemy and there’d be nobody to back you up.

Time and time again, we’ll see brazen heroes kick down doors solo — even when they’ve got teammates available.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Drop your gun, enemy drops you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

Keep your gun up

Keep your gun up; keep your guard up. If a building hasn’t been cleared yet (we’ll get to that in a minute), your gun should remain ready to go. If you drop it in an unclear house, you could be caught off guard at the wrong moment — and it could mean the end of you.

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen characters walk through houses with their muzzles pointed at the dirt.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

You better yell like someone’s life depends on it.

Communicate everything

Everything you see, everything you hear, and everything in between needs to be communicated or repeated. No one can see every space of the room, so it’s your job to tell everyone else what you see. This way, if you find enemies, everyone in your unit knows immediately.

We’ve seen plenty of shows and movies that feature silent warriors that rely on hand signals. In fact, one of the only times we’ve seen it done right was in Sons of Anarchy. In the second episode of the third season, the Sons close in on the location of the leader of a rival gang. As they move through the house, they communicate every little thing loudly and clearly. Leave it to the lawless to abide by the rules of war.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Make sure to maintain muzzle awareness as well.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

Move your muzzle with your eyes

If you turn your head, your gun goes with it. If your gun isn’t locked with your eyes, you’ll need an extra second to get it there if things go south. Needless to say, your enemy doesn’t want to give you that extra second.

Characters in movies are always looking around without their gun, even when the character is supposed to be some Special Ops badass.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

You never know when an enemy is hiding in a corner or under a table.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Garrett White)

Check every space

A building can only be declared “clear” when every space has been observed. If a building has a basement, attic, or both — you better check ’em. Drawers, cabinets, closets, shelves, holes in the walls — it all gets inspected. If it doesn’t, that one drawer you decided was okay could have a f*cking bomb in it.

Funnily enough, in movies, when a character doesn’t follow this rule, they’ll often been made an example for the rest of the squad.

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QUIZ: Who said it, Joseph Stalin or Bob Dylan?

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and Soviet political leader Joseph Stalin are famous for different reasons.


Dylan has been influential in popular music and culture for over five decades. Stalin, on the other hand, governed the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953.

Despite, their differences, when it comes to influencing people, they are both masters of poetry. We gathered some of their most famous quotes to make this quiz. Did the dictator or the folk singer say these things?

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Watch a real US Army honor guard perform the ‘Razzle Dazzle’ from the movie ‘Stripes’

The 1981 film “Stripes” featured what is probably the worst group of movie soldiers ever to join the Army (that was kinda the point of the film). Bill Murray’s John Winger is a New York cab driver who loses his job, apartment, and girlfriend and decides to join the Army as a way to avoid being a total failure in life. He convinces his best friend Russell Ziskey (played by the late Harold Ramis) to join with him. Their drill sergeant, Sgt. Hulka (played by the late Warren Oates), is injured during mortar practice and the group has to finish basic training without instruction (suspend your disbelief for this comedy, troops).


What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

In an effort to stay in the Army and graduate from Basic Training, Winger and his platoon stay up for an entire night (the whole night!) in order to put on the unconventional yet highly produced and coordinated routine. Uniform violations are everywhere, so if that’s the kind of thing that gives you seizures, try not to look too closely:

Scenes from the movie, including those on post and those in Czechoslovakia, were filmed on Fort Knox, so the film is close to hearts of the Fort Knox, Kentucky community. The movie celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2016. To help that celebration, an honor guard from the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command performed the entire Stripes “Razzle Dazzle” graduation routine at Fort Knox (complete with uniform violations).
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A brief history of US troops playing cards – and a magician’s trick honoring veterans

War can be hell…and war can be absolute boredom. There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards. Anyone who served in the military and made it past basic training probably ended up in a game of cards with their fellow troops.


What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
Photo taken by an 82d Airborne paratrooper during WWII. (Portraits of War)

They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag, or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear. Plus, they’re cheap. It just makes sense that the troops and playing cards would pair so well together.

The Bicycle Playing Card Company recounts the history of American troops and playing cards, though many other nations’ militaries also have a tradition of playing cards in their downtime. It just beats sitting around thinking about everything that could go wrong in a battle. As one Civil War soldier said, “Card playing seemed to be as popular a way of killing time as any.”

Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft, and even teach a little about American history. Even in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
These cards are probably well-known by now.

Also Read: This is how POWs got playing cards with secret escape maps for Christmas

Playing cards themselves can be traced back to 12th century China. Some scholars think they made their way to Europe through Italian traders. The cards (and maybe even the games) predate the United States. But Americans have their own love affair with cards, and the military is no different.

Early special decks were released depicting Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and (John Quincy) Adams as the kings of the deck. By the time of the Civil War, playing cards were in every American camp, Union or Confederate.

Since troops in the Civil War spent a lot of time in camp and had easy access to decks, alcohol, and firearms, a cheater could make the game go very badly for himself. The war actually shaped the way playing cards are printed, so players could hold a tighter hand.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Another innovation of that era was the design on the backs of cards. Before then, most were made with plain backs, ones that were easy to mark and see through. The new back designs made short work of that problem.

In 1898, the Consolidated Playing Card Company created a cheap deck and poker chips for troops deploying to the Spanish-American War. For World War I, the U.S. Playing Card Company released special decks just for a few specialties of service in the Great War, namely Artillery, Navy, Air Corps, and Tank Corps. The German High Command in WWI considered the game so important to morale, they called the cards kartonnen wapens – cardboard weapons.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life
German soldiers playing cards on the Western front in the summer of 1916. (Playing Card Museum)

Many playing card factories converted to war production during World War II, but that certainly didn’t mean no decks were printed. The aforementioned cards used to identify aircraft, known as “spotter cards,” were essential to the war effort.

During the Vietnam War, playing card companies sent deployed soldiers and Marines special decks comprised of just the ace of spades, believing the Viet Cong considered the symbol to be a deadly serious omen.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

As late as 2007, American forces were given decks meant to inform them about important cultural and historical relics in the countries to which they deployed.

Watch below as magician Justin Flom recounts the oft-told story of a Revolutionary War soldier and his deck of cards, which acts as his bible, calendar, and almanac. Be sure to watch til the end for a magician’s tribute to American troops overseas.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Check out the new trailer for upcoming WWII movie ‘Midway’

Apologies for spoiling the ending, but the upcoming World War II movie “Midway” is about one of the United States’ greatest military victories in our war with Japan.

The film opens in theaters Nov. 8, 2019, just in time for Veterans Day weekend.

Director Roland Emmerich (“The Patriot,” “Independence Day” and “White House Down”) has spent decades trying to get “Midway” made, and improving technology has finally allowed him to match the movie to his vision.

The studio debuted a new trailer, and you can watch it below.


Midway (2019 Movie) New Trailer – Ed Skrein, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson

www.youtube.com

“Midway” stars Woody Harrelson as Adm. Chester Nimitz and features an epic cast that includes Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Nick Jonas, Aaron Eckhart and Darren Criss.

The Battle of Midway was truly a turning point in World War II. If the Japanese had won, the entire West Coast would have been exposed, and the alternate history imagined by a show like “The Man in the High Castle” would have been a real possibility.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Iron Man’s ‘Endgame’ death could have looked a lot more grisly

If you were taken aback by Tony Stark’s face during his final moments in “Avengers: Endgame,” it could have looked a lot more grisly.

“We gave the filmmakers a full range [of looks] to choose from and one of those was where the energy from the stones had acted right up into his face and popped one of his eyeballs out and it was hanging out on his cheek,” Weta digital VFX supervisor Matt Aitken told Insider of one of the most gruesome designs they did for Iron Man’s death.

“They didn’t go for that one,” Aitken chuckled.


The “Endgame” visual effects team, consisting of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Marvel, and Weta Digital, put together a full range of looks for Marvel Studios and directors Anthony and Joe Russo to look over.

The team needed to strike the perfect balance between a look that was believable enough that Tony could die, but that wasn’t too scary for kids and families to watch together.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

This was one of many designs made for Tony’s death scene.

(Marvel Studios)

“With any development item, you want to be able to give the filmmakers a full gamut, from sort of a light touch all the way to horror, and this will never be in it,” said Marvel VFX producer Jen Underdahl. “But by doing that exercise and by letting them see sort of every stage, they can kind of pinpoint and circle the drain on where they think the look is going to settle.”

“We did go several rounds on that guy from grisly to not so grisly to more light of a touch, back to OK this is the spot where we think the audience is not going to get too freaked out, but also really understand that Tony has reached the point of no return,” Underdahl added.

The film helped lay out viewer’s expectations for Tony’s impending death by physically showing the damage the stones did to two other larger, powerful characters. The idea was that, hopefully, by the time Tony snapped and used the gauntlet viewers would be able to see the consequences of him wielding the stones.

“We had seeded in the film this notion of Thanos having damage. There are consequences to him snapping and pursuing this ideology. You see the damage in his face and what that did to him, and he’s built for this,” said Underdahl. “Then [you] see the consequences to Smart Hulk, who was made of gamma radiation and the damage that it did there.”

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

If this is what the stones did to Hulk, then you had to know it wasn’t going to go well for Tony.

(Marvel Studios, composite by Kirsten Acuna)

“You knew somewhere in the math that Tony himself, even though he’s got this suit and it’s going to fight for him, ultimately what’s going to result would be something he couldn’t recover from,” she added.

Atkins, Underdahl, and Marvel visual effects supervisor Swen Gillberg said they pushed the design past where they wanted to go so that they ultimately fell somewhere right in the middle of two extremes.

Another one of those extreme looks involved a nod to one of Batman’s most famous villains.

“We did do a Two-Face version where you got inside and you saw the sinews and you saw them in the teeth and that,” said Underdahl of another one of the more grisly Tony Stark designs.

In “The Dark Knight,” the Batman villain, Harvey Dent, is severely burned after half of his face is lit on fire.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

For reference, here’s how Dent/Two-Face looks. I think it’s safe to say no one would have wanted to see this version of Tony.

(Warner Bros.)

“It takes you away from this really powerful moment,” said Underdahl of why that wouldn’t have been the right move for that moment. “You don’t want to be focusing on that or grossed out.”

“When he’s collapsing against the tree stump, you’ve got to know that he’s in a really bad predicament, that he has made this terrible sacrifice,” Atkins added. “But then you also didn’t want it to distract from his performance. And it’s a really subtle performance that he has in those intimate moments with Spidey and then with Pepper. So yeah we definitely worked quite hard on achieving that one, but we got there.”

“Avengers: Endgame” is one of 10 films on the shortlist for the visual effects category at the 92nd Academy Awards. The five final Oscar nominees will be announced Monday morning.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

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This movie about an Iraq War troop based on an acclaimed book is a surefire Oscar contender

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life


It’s never too early to start up Oscar talk, and after watching the trailer for “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” you’ll know what I mean.

Director Ang Lee’s (“Life of Pi,” “Brokeback Mountain”) latest movie looks at the victory tour of 19-year-old soldier Billy Lynn after an intense tour in Iraq. The film shows what really happened over there through flashbacks and contrasts that with the perception of Billy and his squad back home.

It’s based on the universally praised 2012 novel of the same name by Ben Fountain, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. For that and Ang Lee’s name alone, it’s sure to get a lot of attention.

Shot in 3D, the movie is certain to be visually stunning. But it also looks like it has the emotional weight to carry it to award season.

The film stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, and newcomer Joe Alwyn as Billy Lynn.

Watch the trailer below. The movie opens in November.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This milspouse made the latest cut on ‘American Idol’

American Idol is back this year on ABC with Ryan Seacrest and new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. They’ve just announced the Top 24 and there’s a military spouse who’s made it this far in the competition.

Jurnee (just one name and she says it’s real) is an 18-year-old hostess from Denver, CO. Her wife, Ashley, serves in the U.S. Army.


Check out Jurnee’s audition video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01XhRdvPZxY

www.youtube.com

After Hollywood Week, Jurnee learned she made it to the Top 24 and performed Never Enough for her Idol Showcase. Ashley, who’s soon to be deployed, made it to Los Angeles for the performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRMBMs6ZLPw

www.youtube.com

Longtime Idol viewers will notice the way that the producers are presenting her (ahem) journey means that they’re setting up Jurnee to have a long run on the show (if she continues to perform with the ability she’s demonstrated so far). We’ll be tuning in and following her progress in the weeks to come.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Fans are speculating on the identity of this ‘Endgame’ character

The “Avengers: Endgame” trailer dropped on March 14, 2019, and although it doesn’t seem to reveal much about what the main plot of the final “Avengers” installment might be, it did raise a lot of questions. And after watching the trailer, some people are already speculating that the final film could introduce a new character that fans of Marvel comic books might recognize.

Amidst the swelling music and Tony Stark’s voiceover, there’s a short scene in the trailer in which Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye, teaches a young woman how to use a bow and arrow. The girl shoots an arrow, hits her target dead-on, and then high-fives Barton.

Fans are now trying to figure out who that girl could be — and they already have some guesses.


Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame – Official Trailer

www.youtube.com

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

In the trailer, Barton gives the unknown character a high-five.

(Marvel Entertainment)

Some fans think the young woman could be a famous character from the ‘Young Avengers’ series of comic books

Some fans believe the young woman is the famous Marvel character Kate Bishop, who was introduced in the “Young Avengers” comic books.

In the comics, Bishop is Clint’s talented, bow-wielding protégé who later becomes his partner on several missions. She even later goes by the name “Hawkeye” to honor Clint.

Many fans are hopeful that the girl could be Bishop and some are convinced it’s definitely her.

The “Avengers” movies have not always strictly followed the plots found in the comics of the same name, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if the franchise strayed from the books and introduced Bishop in the final film of the series.

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

Hawkeye’s daughter Lila was introduced in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in 2015.

(Marvel Entertainment)

Other fans are convinced the character is Barton’s daughter, Lila, who was introduced in the ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ film

Some fans speculate that the girl in the trailer could just be Clint and Laura Barton’s daughter, Lila. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” viewers were first introduced to her — she was one of the two Barton children depicted in the 2015 film.

Since some people are speculating that the movie could take place after a time jump into the future, it would make sense that, in this final film, Lila would be a bit older than she was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

The character could also be someone entirely different

It is still unclear who the character in the trailer is but what we doknow for sure is that this “Avengers” trailer has left many fans with more questions than answers.

“Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters April 26, 2019.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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