The upcoming Band of Brothers sequel, Masters of the Air, has made its most recent casting choices with Austin Butler and Callum Turner. The Apple Studios miniseries marks the third time that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks will produce a World War II epic for television, with Band of Brothers and The Pacific having won a total of 15 Emmys between them.
The arrival of Band of Brothers in 2001 marked a revolutionary moment for World War II-era cinema and television as a whole. Though shot for television, the sheer scale of the production surpassed many film productions, with more pyrotechnics having been used by the third episode than what was used in the entirety of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. The series was also the most expensive television drama ever made at the time, and the narrative throughout the 10-episode arc effortlessly created a bond between the audience and the soldiers fighting the war. To this day, no other World War II-era TV production has managed to touch its scale or level of intrigue, and few films since within the genre can lay claim to offering anything comparable. Fans were absolutely delighted when sequel series, The Pacific, was released in 2010, though many still assert that Band of the Brothers is by far the better of the two.
Now fans once again find themselves excited over the prospect of a new exploration of World War II from Spielberg and Hanks. It’s been several months since Masters of the Air was first announced, but thanks to Deadline, the first casting decisions have been revealed. Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Callum Turner (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) are both confirmed for the upcoming series, with Butler playing Major Gale Cleven and Turner as Major John Egan.
Both Butler and Turner are budding stars, with Butler starring as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrman’s currently filming and untitled Elvis Presley biopic and Turner set to reprise his role as Theseus Scamander in the long-delayed, Fantastic Beasts 3. Their recent appointment to Masters of the Air follows a lengthy tradition for Spielberg and Hanks’ World War II productions, with Band of Brothers having starred the likes of Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender and Simon Pegg before they became the international stars that they are today. The same could also be said for The Pacific, which cast then relatively unknown stars, Rami Malek and Jon Bernthal. The new miniseries will follow the American pilots who risked it all to take to the skies against Nazi Germany during the second World War.
It’s great to see Spielberg and Hanks return to recreating World War II for the small screen, though for Band of Brothers fans, it’s hard to believe that anything could surpass the outright quality of that series. Masters of the Air will certainly offer a new perspective to consider, but the big challenge will be whether or not the miniseries can make the action from the cockpit of a bomber plane as utterly watchable as Easy Company’s harrowing campaign through war torn Europe.