Director Joe Johnston’s pulpy WWII set action adventure, the Rocketeer, has always been a huge personal love of mine since it was released in 1991. It may have been a box office flop at the time its release, but has become a cult favourite in the intervening years. And now it appears that it may become a favourite of a whole new generation… Just not quite how you remember it.
According to a report from THR, Disney are currently developing what is confusingly being referred to as “sequel-reboot” to the classic film titled The Rocketeers. This new film will reportedly take place six years after events of the original after Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell), the stunt pilot who found the experimental jetpack and became the heroic Rocketeer beating Timothy Dalton’s swashbuckling Nazi spy, has gone missing while fighting the Third Reich. In his absence, a new Rocketeer emerges in the form of a young female African American pilot, who takes on the mantle “to stop an ambitious and corrupt rocket scientist from stealing jet-pack technology in what could prove to be a turning point in the Cold War.”
Disney apparently began considering reviving the much-beloved Rocketeer franchise after a 20th anniversary screening in Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre in 2011 resulted in a massive fan turnout that stretched for blocks. However, Disney wanted to make sure that this new Rocketeer would not be confused with their other golden helmeted high-flying hero Iron Man, and thus the young black female lead in this… I guess Marvel Comics, who are owned by Disney, forgot to mention their plan to have the new Iron Man be a young black female. Oops?
Either way, the fact that the movie is being titled The Rocketeers – plural – implies that this new young Rocketeer will more than likely be meeting and teaming up with Cliff Secord in some fashion. The fact that the movie is set just six years later, but in reality 25 years has passed, probably means that Billy Campbell won’t be able to reprise his original role though.
The original movie was based on a 1980’s indie comic by Dave Stevens which draw its inspiration from the pulp hero serials of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Rocketeers will be penned by Max Winkler (son of veteran actor Henry Winkler) and Matt Spicer. No director or actress have been tapped yet.