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‘Flag Day’ vs. ‘King Richard’ Trailers: Sean Penn and Will Smith’s Fatherhood

Sean Penn vs Will Smith Flag Day King Richard Trailers
Metro Goldwyn Meyer, Warner Bros.

We all have our favorite examples of cinematic fathers. Darth Vader, Vito Corleone, and even Mrs. Doubtfire have captured our hearts, whether their parenting techniques are appropriate or not. This week, we have two movie dads with amazing trailers. The difference in their fatherhood showcases very different ends of a spectrum, and since they are both played by movie stars it’s worth analyzing what we expect from our movie fathers.

“Flag Day” starring Sean Penn

First, we have “Flag Day,” starring the controversially great Sean Penn. The film follows the daughter (Dylan Frances Penn) of a famous US counterfeiter as she reconnects with her father. Sean Penn will be directing the film with Katheryn Winnick and Josh Brolin in supporting roles. Brolin is famous for playing Thanos, the ultimate bad dad. Hopefully, Penn’s character, John Vogel, will not take some notes from him.

John Vogel seems to fall into the category of absent dads. These are the fathers in movies who finally return only to find their children grown up and wise to their ways. There is likely some redemption arc in this story of expensive crime. The film is based on a true story, although Penn is clearly expanding upon it.

“Flag Day” comes out on August 20th. Someone should have told MGM that they are 67 days too late for the actual holiday.

“King Richard” starring Will Smith

Here we find a different model of fatherhood than Vogel’s. Reinaldo Marcus Green is directing this story of another real-life father in this sports drama. Will Smith is portraying Richard Williams, the father of his two tennis prodigy daughters. Because Smith is such a charismatic actor, he naturally comes across as a better father than Penn. However, Williams has his own faults and failing father archetype.

Williams exhibits a strong driving of his daughters towards greatness. Unlike Penn’s character, he clearly plays a large part in his children’s lives. However, it seems his presence could be burdensome. His arc might be to loosen up on his daughters and admit his pride in them even when they fail.

“King Richard” will come to theaters on November 19 this year, just in time to qualify for Oscar season. Green also directed the Wahlberg drama Joe Bell, which has stuck around in select theaters this year.

It’s a battle of the fathers this year, and unlike last year with Anthony Hopkins in “The Father,” there is no clear winner except the audience.

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