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F-35 to make Hollywood debut in Superman flick

Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:32pm
Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor

According to Wired, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — the oft-delayed, oft-maligned, “backbone of America’s tactical aviation fleet” — is set to make its big-screen debut in the Superman reboot, Man of Steel.

To be sure, this won’t be the first time the JSF has appeared onscreen. A computer-generated F-35 battled The Hulk in this summer’s blockbuster hit, The Avengers. But this will be the first appearance of a real F-35 in a Hollywood movie.

The latter requires the permission (and ample assistance) from the Department of Defense. And the DoD pulled its support from The Avengers over — no kidding — the fictional S.H.I.E.L.D paramilitary organization and its place in the chain of command.


Phil Strub, the Defense Department’s Hollywood liaison, told Wired’s mil blog, Danger Room, that “We couldn’t reconcile the unreality of this international organization and our place in it. To whom did S.H.I.E.L.D. answer? Did we work for S.H.I.E.L.D.? We hit that roadblock and decided we couldn’t do anything” with the film.

Just a reminder, of course, that even a noble organization like the US Military isn’t free from bureaucratic shenanigans.

And this is hardly the first DoD/Hollywood joint venture, their lucrative partnership stretching all the way back to John Wayne’s The Green Berets (and beyond).

The F-22 Raptor earned its wings — so to speak — in an assortment of flicks, including Iron Man and the big-screen adaptation of Hasbro’s Transformers. In the latter, the evil “Decepticon,” Starscream, actually transforms into an F-22 (see video below). An assortment of toys and merchandise depicts the antagonist as the US Air Force’s “premier air superiority weapon.”



This is normally the part where I editorialize about cynical bureaucrats trying to propagandize for expensive government programs, but I see nothing wrong with the military advertising itself in any capacity.

When Top Gun — which received ample cooperation from the Navy — boosted recruitment, I considered it a net win: testosterone-filled Tom Cruise flick and more able-bodied individuals joining our nation’s armed forces.

In that vein, I applaud the F-35’s silver-screen debut and hope it inspires young people to pursue military aviation (even if they actually end up cleaning flight decks and scrubbing bulkheads). Hey, we can’t all be Maverick (or Superman), right?

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