The World War II well remains fresh for storytelling.
Having previously starred in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Greyhound,” along with producing the iconic HBO series “Band of Brothers,” Tom Hanks is now producing “Masters of the Air,” an account of the 8th Air Force during their aerial bombardment missions over Germany, along with a sequel to the aforementioned drama set aboard a U.S. Navy ship escorting a convoy across the north Atlantic during the early days of the Second World War.
In Saving Private Ryan, Hanks played Capt. Miller, perhaps one of the definitive portrayals of the humble citizen-soldier. It also gave us all a great template for the modern, professional military, perhaps at once both creating and recreating a mythos for how the military works. From the look on Miller’s face when he travels back to battalion headquarters and sees people enjoying coffee and sandwiches to his breakdown of how the universal art of military gripes works, he portrayed the ideal of a captain: Competent, capable, and still at ease with his soldiers.
Hanks played a similar role in Greyhound as a Navy captain of a destroyer in the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic, when the U.S. was woefully unprepared for anti-submarine warfare. German U-Boat captains referred to it as the “Happy Time” because of the plentiful targets, and U-Boat crews would even sometimes stand on deck and watch the lights at Coney Island illuminated along the horizon.
Masters of the Air is set to portray the air war against Germany when hundreds of bombers would fly over Europe and suffer some of the highest casualty rates of the war.
Specific details of what will be in a sequel to “Greyhound” remain unclear, but the war in the Atlantic carried on for three more years after 1942, with the last engagement taking place just three days before the May 8, 1945 armistice. And if the focus is shifted to the Pacific Theater, perhaps it will be an opportunity to recreate some of the Navy’s great beards grown on those long deployments.
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