First Man

Universal’s controversial biopic First Man, about astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, was universally criticized for leaving out the iconic shot of Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon.

Armstrong, who died in 2012, was commander of the Apollo 11 moon mission that landed on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.

Armstrong’s famous quote: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” — was also left out of the film.

Patriotic Americans questioned why Universal even bothered to make a movie about Armstrong. They also took issue with the producers casting Ryan Gosling, a Canadian actor, to play Armstrong.

The production team, made up of mostly Hollywood liberals, didn’t want to offend America’s friends to the North (Canada) by making the American flag plant a focal point of the movie.

Historians and space enthusiasts threatened to boycott the film if the flag scene was not included in the final cut.

But Universal insisted First Man was a movie about Armstrong’s lifetime achievements — of which the flag plant played a minuscule part.

In an interview with Business Insider, First Man screenwriter Josh Stringer said the flag plant undermined the fundamental essence of the film.

Stringer explained why the protests upset him so much.

“One of the things that upset me the most about the flag conversation is this is very much a celebration of blue collar work, or patriotic sacrifice, which is what Neil embodied.”
Stringer, who spent 4 years researching Armstrong’s life, told Business Insider he wanted to recount what really happened on the moon, without too many Hollywood embellishments.

“To be perfectly honest, I can understand why people who haven’t seen the film are questioning why that isn’t there, but if you see the film you understand why,” Singer said, referencing the missing flag plant on the moon. “The film is so deeply patriotic to begin with it’s not necessary. We also don’t have the call to [former President] Nixon. We’re trying to get under the myth.”

First Man opened at #3 with a domestic gross of $16.5 million over the weekend. Another Universal movie, Night School, starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, fell out of the top 5, earning $8 million over the weekend.