The nice thing about New York Comic-Con is that there are always a few pleasant surprises like Joe Wright’s Hanna last year or this year’s lower-key panel for Lucasfilm’s Red Tails, a project that George Lucas has been trying to make for 20 years and ComingSoon.net first heard was moving forward when we interviewed Lucas in 2008. (You can read that here.) Since then, it’s gotten a director in Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”), a cast that includes Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., and it now has a release date.
The movie tells the story of America’s 332nd Fighter Group, the first all-African American pilots who fought in Europe during World War II against the German’s more experienced fighter planes. They were real American heroes who still had to face extreme prejudice back home and who weren’t even recognized for their efforts until decades later.
It was a great panel not only due to the fantastic aerial dogfight footage they showed, all of it created by the master FX specialists at Industrial Light & Magic, but also due to the presence of one of the real Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. Roscoe Brown who had a lot of stirring stories about being in the air shooting down Nazi jets, as well as what it was like fighting against racism back home.
Also on hand were co-writer Aaron McGruder (creator of “The Boondocks”) and actors Michael B. Jordan and Leslie Odorn Jr. who talked about the process of making the movie, which mostly involved the latter two being shaken up by gimbels on a green screen set for those dogfight battles. Lucas has also produced a documentary called “Double Victory” that will be shown on the History Channel later this year which covers some of the aspects the film doesn’t, specifically the Tuskegee Institute where many of the 332nd went to school before heading to Europe.
After the panel, ComingSoon.net had a chance to sit down with Michael B. Jordan, one of the actors in the ensemble. Some will remember him playing Wallace on “The Wire” or from his recent run on “Friday Night Lights” as Vince Howard, but he’ll be seen a lot in early 2012, both in Red Tails and 20th Century Fox’s Chronicle, which we also discussed in our video interview that you can watch below.