A new trailer for First Man celebrates American patriotism as John F. Kennedy's famous space speech plays over footage from the new drama. The latest offering from La La Land director Damien Chazelle, First Man emerged as a leading contender for Best Picture following a series of successful screenings at the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals. Many critics walked away in awe of Chazelle's outstanding technical achievement, representing another step forward for the young helmsman. The performances by Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy also earned much praise, and both are seen as likely nominees in their respective acting races.
While First Man lived up to its on-paper potential, it still encountered a minor speed bump on the path to Oscar glory. The film became subject to controversy when it was (erroneously) stated it does not feature the American flag on the moon's surface. In actuality, the flag is present in several shots during the moon landing sequence, it just doesn't depict the moment where Neil Armstrong planted the flag into the ground. Armstrong's sons issued a statement defending the film, and now Universal's marketing department has issued their own response.
The third trailer for First Man (which you can watch in the space below) doesn't offer much in the way of new footage or story beats, but the message of it is clear. Amidst claims of the film being "anti-American" and "unpatriotic," this preview paints First Man as a celebration of the United States, with Armstrong's accomplishment fulfilling a mission set by President Kennedy in 1961.
While there's no way of knowing for sure that the trailer is a direct reaction to the flag controversy, it's very easy to read it as such. With two theatrical trailers and positive word-of-mouth already, First Man didn't need another preview to generate excitement amongst audiences. However, it's understandable why Universal felt this particular promo was necessary to release. It should put an end to any qualms about Chazelle taking an unpatriotic stance with his film, especially since the American flag is featured prominently throughout. The final shot of the trailer is the metaphorical mic drop, as it were, with the flag proudly waving next to the spacecraft on the moon's surface. It's the studio's way of telling viewers there's nothing to worry about.
It'll be interesting to see what impact (if any) this has on First Man's box office prospects. The Armstrong family response came out so quickly, it essentially squashed the issue before it really took hold and threatened to overshadow the film. In all likelihood, the flag "controversy" will be a distant memory by the time First Man opens in theaters this October, and viewers will simply go to marvel at Armstrong's tremendous story and leave feeling inspired. This has been a passion project of Chazelle's for years, and he worked diligently to do the narrative justice. The last thing he'd want is to purposely offend anyone with an ill-advised omission.
- First Man (2018) release date: Oct 12, 2018