Are Hollywood SEALs Real?

Are Navy SEALs Portrayed Accurately in Hollywood?

We’ve all witnessed the scene. A series of ripped, incredibly manicured SEALs walk in slow motion. They are coming hot off a big rescue, and they’re soaking in the moment as if they are literally floating in the air. Then reality sets in, their glory is shaken with some obscure fact, and they have to prove themselves all over again.

Maybe it’s a new guy coming in. Maybe it’s a retiree making their way back into the game. Whatever the scenario, it’s safe to say that we’ve seen it a time or two. And the odds are, we’ll see it a few more in a short period of time.

Why? This is how the world sees Navy SEALs. Errrr, this is how Hollywood sees them. Big, muscular heroes who complete unbelievable feats, where the stakes are high but the rescue always comes out in their favor.

But how much of this is real? How much of the Navy SEALs’ stories were properly researched vs. those that have been fabricated? The truth is that there’s a huge mix of both – the real and the sensationalized. And unless you were there to know the true events, much of it simply can’t be determined. Here’s why:

Hollywood Uses Real Military Experts

In most cases, Hollywood movies (or any movies, including independent ones) use military experts to help them increase the realistic features of their films. This includes anything from fact checking, to including the correct gear and weapons, to branch vernacular. They work hard to get it right. (At least most do.)

That being said, movies are still a piece of fiction. You’re watching a story that was either made up completely, or altered to be more entertaining. Much of the nuanced stuff – the stuff that won’t make a good film – is cut from the script long before filming ever takes place.

That means there’s a lot we don’t see. Sometimes that can lead to storylines that are simply unrealistic. Then again, maybe a movie company simply didn’t do its research. Or maybe they hired an expert in one field, who happened to overlook a glaring detail.

The main take-away is that there is so much that goes into making a move. Oftentimes when errors are included – for instance, showing a hyped-up or dramatized version of a Navy SEAL, getting their calorie count wrong, etc. – it’s not an intentional slight. It’s something that was overlooked by folks who are in the business of making good movies. Not telling SEALs exactly how they are.

So are SEALs portrayed accurately in Hollywood? To some degree they are. But much of it is also dramatized and hyped up to make better movies. That’s their most important goal, after all. Keep this in mind as you watch military films, whether or not they are based on real events.

SEALs on television are more often than not tall, physically robust and has obvious super hero qualities. In real life not all SEALs are created for the camera. For example, many SEALs graduate BUD/S for their strong swimming abilities. Meaning they're laser thin or tall or short and bony. But never allow what they lack in physically attractiveness for weakness.

Real SEALs can likely spot the drama – the made up and the real life. But for movie goers who happen to be military buffs, the “errors” will be harder to spot. Take each storyline with a grain of salt and remember, 100% true or not, it’s always a good time to celebrate the tenure of Navy SEALs.

To learn more about Navy SEALs in Hollywood, check out our previous blogs.

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