The second man to walk on the moon has now seemingly weighed in on the controversy surrounding First Man.
The new film, which premiered last week to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, is a biopic of astronaut Neil Armstrong, who became the first man to walk on the moon in July of 1969 as part NASA's Apollo 11 mission. When it was revealed that the film omits the moment in which Armstrong and crewmate Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the lunar surface (an iconic moment from the mission, to be sure, but not the only iconic moment), Americans including Republic Senator Marco Rubio of Florida were outraged and expressed their disappointment via Twitter.
As the controversy spread late last week, the film's director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling defended the decision to leave the moment out, with Gosling in particular noting his belief that Armstrong didn't view himself as "an American hero" and the filmmakers "wanted the film to reflect Neil." Armstrong's sons, Rick and Mark, also released a statement supporting First Man, noting that they don't think the film is "anti-American in the slightest" and encouraging moviegoers to see the film and decide for themselves.
Now, Aldrin himself has weighed in, albeit in a somewhat subtle way.
The 88-year-old NASA legend, who has remained in the public eye through an active social media presence, public appearances, and numerous books, took to Twitter late Sunday to post a pair of images from the Apollo 11 mission, along with several hashtags. Check it out for yourself:
That last hashtag indicates that Aldrin was posting the images at least in part to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, but the others make it pretty clear without directly referencing the film that he's responding in some way to the flag controversy, adding a little bit of fuel to a fire that social media is still stoking days after the First Man premiere.
It's worth noting here that the American flag is of course very present throughout First Man. It's on the astronauts' uniforms, on the side of the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo 11 and, yes, on the lunar surface in shots that take place after the flag planting is done offscreen. It would be impossible to make an honest film about the life of Neil Armstrong and not acknowledge that Apollo 11 was an American mission, but those who are angered by the omission of the flag planting seem to see that moment in particular -- perhaps even more than, say, Armstrong's "One small step for man..." moment upon descending from the lunar module -- as a key symbol of the mission's triumph.
Aldrin might clarify his post in the coming days, but for now it seems he agrees that symbol should have been part of the film.
First Man arrives in theaters October 12.