Disney Rebooting ‘The Rocketeer’; Will Director Joe Johnston Return?

Published 3 years ago by

Rocketeer Reboot Disney Disney Rebooting The Rocketeer; Will Director Joe Johnston Return?

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.

IDW Published Rocketeer Adventures Disney Rebooting The Rocketeer; Will Director Joe Johnston Return?

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.

Rockteer 1991 Film Disney Rebooting The Rocketeer; Will Director Joe Johnston Return?

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.


Source: Vulture

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  1. I just read the movie The Rocketeer is in the early stage of development and that, the producers still find the writer. I personally would like to make a spec script for it. How can i submit my spec script just in case?

  2. I just watched this movie a couple weeks ago, nostalgia is definitely the right word for it. It’s not a great movie but it is a lot of fun, and Timothy Dalton is fantastic. I’m not so sure about Johnston for the role though, it might be interesting to see what he would do differently but I’m afraid he would not change enough or change the wrong things. One of the problems I had with Captain America was all the Hydra technology felt like to futuristic, and it really took me out of the movie. It felt like it was designed by people in the 21st century not the 1940′s. That was the feel of the whole movie though. I’m probably alone in this camp but I would have gone with the Dick Purcell 1940 serial look, and give it a REAL sense of nostalgia and not just a sepia filter.

    Perhaps I am too nitpicky, but I am excited for this, I like the Rocketeer

    • Seeing how the Nazi’s designed a stealth jet in the 1940′s, I do not see the Hydra stuff in the movie that much more advanced.

    • I agree with you about the Captain America movie—it becomes an episode of Blue Laser (Strongbad) in the middle of the film and all of the tech is way over the top. The strong character development and relationships between the characters carry the film for me.

      I’ve been a Rocketeer fan since the early 80s. I don’t see the point of modernizing it. I have my doubts if a reboot will succeed financially no matter how good the film may be. Unfortunately, a lot of people want superheroes, not pulp heroes. I hope I’m wrong. I guess we’ll find out when we see the earning from the planned Doc Savage film and the rumored Shadow film.

      The problem with the Shadow film is I don’t a guy who delivers justice with two Colt .45s falls under the category of “Family Entertainment”, but we’ll soon see.

  3. why not just a pt 2?

  4. Bring it. I’m intrigued. I loved this movie when I was a kid, and even played in my garage with fans imagining building a jet pack. This would be great to see on the big screen again with some updated CGI.

  5. I’ve read a Rocketeer comic before, but have not yet seen the old movie. A reboot sounds cool, but I’m unsure how well it will do considering (as mentioned) how popular Iron Man is right now.

  6. I would love to see this happen.

  7. Oh boy, so when are they doing Flash Gordon?

  8. Jennifer Connelly. Nuff said.

    • The old version of her too!

  9. First, Joe Johnston damn well better return and two, the Iron Man similarities start and stop at the same place: They’re both men who fly. Beyond that they don’t have much else in common. One guy is billionaire genius playboy who wears an iron suit that he uses to fight wordly and otherwordly threats and the other is an aww-shucks down to Earth pilot from the WWII era. How are these two characters so similar again?

  10. I would love to see Brad Bird direct this bad boy.

    • YESSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I’m all for it if they keep the costume and feel of the original. Come on Disney put those billions to work in the right direction!

  12. I would love to see the Rocketeer in this day and age of superhero movies. Maybe get some of the Marvel Studios folks to come in and work on it! Or take it a different direction and maybe do a Pixar animated film!

  13. Don’t know anything about the comic or the movie but the article has me intrigued. This is something I would watch.

    On a separate note, I’m new to Screenrant. The articles (and the comments) are the best written of all the similar sites I’ve come across.

    • Welcome on board !


      • Thanks

  14. A Rocketeer reboot will not work. It would require a special type of filmmaking: old school filmmaking. On film stock, without greenscreens, without digital color grading and with as many things as possible being shot for real and in camera. Sadly, that craft has been lost forever in the river of time, as Indiana Jones 4 and Captain America have proven.

    • I know what you mean I still watch all the time because they did great on the look of that era. It also helps having the dvd and blu ray.

  15. This will be one that I watch with anticipation. I have an old VHS copy of The Rocketeer and have pretty much worn it out. (Have the Blu-Ray too.) Connelly was at her best in that movie. She deserved an Oscar, in my opinion, for her portrayal of a young woman of the thirties.
    I loved the whole cast and don’t believe Disney will have an easy time of topping it, still I’d really like to see them try.
    A reboot will be the only way to go since it has been to long for a sequel.

    • I still prefer her in Career Opportunities riding that quarter horse in that department store.

  16. Do i really have to be the 1st to say it…. Gordon Levitt-Hewitt will be the next ROCKETEER and it will be awesome!

      • Don’t worry about him. He is done with blockbusters and will be doing porn movies with Lars von Trier from now on.

    • No, no no……Nathan Fillion. He would be perfect for the part! (just like he’s perfect for every other part he has been mentioned for :P )

  17. One of the best films of the 90s, one of the best comic adaptations of all time.

    Why not make a sequel? Doesn’t have to have the same cast.

  18. I`ll pass

  19. i know its a long shot,

    but if they have just one Howard Stark reference/Marvel Movie reference,

    ill watch it.

    • Um he was a character in the 1991 movie!

      • Meant Howard Hughes not Howard Stark!

  20. I recall seeing this movie in the theater with my friend and we loved it! I watched it again about 2-3 years ago, and still loved it! But a reboot? I think Disney was waiting for Dave Stevens to die before they unleashed this on us, because I don’t know if he’d be on board for it.

    This one sounds like a “wait and see” for me…

  21. I hope that they use practical effects for many of the action sequences. I watched the original back in 1991 and at the time, I thought the green screen effects already looked dated.

    Hopefully, we won’t have to sit through a complete reboot and we get a Peevy that looks like Doug Widley and a Betty (not a Jenny) as orignally envisioned by the great Dave Stevens.

  22. I remember this movie fondly and I’m kinda stoked for a reboot as long as the don’t change it too much. I’m excited to see it with modern sfx.

    • The origional Rocketeer is an underrated film – I have allways loved it!
      I hope they make a new one. Imagine a dogfight between German fighter planes and the Rocketeer …..

      Who should star in a reboot? Here are some thoughts:

      Cliff Secord – Jason Gordon-Lewitt or Ryan Gosling

      Jenny – Allison Brie (Mad Men and Community) or Amanda Seyfried

      Peevy – Andre Royo (Bubbles in The Wire)

      Nevile Sinclair – Pierce Brosnan, Hugh Jackman or John Hamm from Mad Men

      Howard Hughes – a camo from Leonardo di Caprio

      Gordon-Lewitt and Gosling are talented actors of the right age who aree becoming stars now.

      Allison Brie and Amanda Seyfried are both old-fashioned “Dames” and talented actresses, just like Jennifer Connelly. There is no reason Peeve can’t be black and Royo blew us away with his performance as Bubbles.
      Brosnan, Jackman and Hamm all have classic leading man looks and can play sleazy ass*****.

  23. Why bother?