Tom Hanks continues his quest to lionize every facet of World War II with Masters of the Air, a spiritual successor of his previous WWII-focused miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific.
This time, Masters of the Air focuses on the US Army Air Forces and is based on Donald L. Miller’s book, Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought The Air War Against Nazi Germany. The series was co-created by John Orloff, who was a writer on Band of Brothers back in the day, and X-Files writer John Shiban. Hanks is an executive producer, and the series boasts an impressive list of directors, including Dee Rees, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and, er, Cary Joji Fukunaga. I suppose this counts as Fukunaga’s comeback.
But you’re really here because Austin Butler is front and center in the trailer, looking AMAZING in the period costumes (he looks so good in vintage styles). He’s one of the leads, along with Callum Turner, and this is the project he did right after Elvis—you can definitely still hear Elvis in his voice. The series also stars Raff Law, son of Jude; Barry Keoghan; Anthony Boyle; and Ncuti Gatwa, the new Dr. Who but also lately of Barbie. Like Band of Brothers and The Pacific before it, Masters of the Air is stuffed with up-and-coming boy talent, one thing these miniseries have been good for is introducing a new generation of potential stars to audiences—Damien Lewis was a standout in Band of Brothers, which also featured Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Dominic Cooper, Andrew Scott, Simon Pegg, and James McAvoy in smaller roles, while The Pacific had James Badge Dale, Jon Bernthal, and Rami Malek.
Masters of the Air is due on Apple TV+ in January, and with the SAG-AFTRA strike now over, Butler and the others will be able to promote it. But my question is whether or not this beats The Bikeriders as Butler’s first official post-Elvis role. Production-wise, it is, he shot Air before Bikeriders or Dune: Part Two. But Dune has moved to March 2024, and The Bikeriders was taken off the December schedule, ostensibly because of the strike, but also because it was set to open on December 1, which is now Beyoncé Renaissance Day, as her concert film opens that day. With the strike over, distributor 20th Century Studios could drop The Bikeriders on a new day in December, but if they don’t, then Masters of the Air will likely come in as Austin Butler’s first official post-Elvis role. Fitting, as he’s still using the Elvis voice in it.