Long before Tony Stark donned the crimson and gold suit on the silver screen there was another “metallic man” who zipped through the skies with the assistance of rockets. We’re of course talking about The Rocketeer, star of the cult-classic Disney film from 1991. While The Rocketeer didn’t go on to be a box office or critical success, its distinct visual style and eclectic cast of actors helped it achieve a certain sense of nostalgia.
However, Disney, now under Alan Horn, doesn’t want The Rocketeer to exist merely as a singular memory, but would like to create a new one for the moviegoing audiences of today. That’s right, a Rocketeer reboot is in the works, and Disney is currently seeking writers for the project.
Before fans get too excited, it’s best to note this Rocketeer reboot is only in the early stages of development, with Disney trying out several different writers to find the right “take” on the property. Some are pointing towards the success of the previously mentioned Iron Man as a motivating factor behind this Rocketeer reboot, even though a small underground movement of fans has been asking for this film to be given another opportunity for quite some time.
For those that don’t know, The Rocketeer started out as a comic in 1982 and was published under the Pacific Comics banner. Unfortunately Pacific Comics is no longer around – they published the last Rocketeer issues in 1989 – but just recently IDW revitalized the series, and have been publishing new issues since May of 2011.
The series itself follows the exploits of Cliff Secord, a racing pilot who comes across a prototype jet pack developed by Howard Hughes (played by LOST‘s Terry O’Quinn in the film). Secord obviously dons the pack and with the help of an iconic helmet, becomes the titular Rocketeer.
Joe Johnston’s 1991 film placed Billy Campbell (The Killing) in the Secord/Rocketeer role and also starred Jennifer Connelly and James Bond alum Timothy Dalton. It’s visual effects, while dated compared to the aerial acrobatics of Tony Stark, were impressive for their time. I can even picture the film’s climax, which involved a burning zeppelin, vividly in my mind after all these years.
Many who saw the film in the ’90s look on it with a certain amount of nostalgia – so much so that Disney even saw fit to release it on Blu-ray last year – making it not that surprising that a reboot would be discussed. Who will jump into the key roles or take on directorial duties is unknown at this time, due to the infant nature of the project.
If Disney was smart about it they would seek out original director Joe Johnston – who recently helped bring Captain America, another period superhero film, to the screen – to consult or even reboot the project himself. Johnston’s ability to make a period piece palatable for modern audiences would be a very useful tool – that is if Disney plans to keep the property in its proper context. Back during the press run for Captain America, Johnston said he was interested in a Rocketeer sequel, but Disney is making it very clear this is a reboot.
There’s a lot of questions to consider – will this reboot still be set in the ’30s, can it compete with Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, are there that many fans of the original film to warrant a reboot – most of which will be answered if (when?) Disney gets this film off the ground.