The Rocketeer will be returning in a most unexpected form - as an animated series for Disney Junior. Released in 1991 to modest box office success, the pulp-inspired action film became a cult classic in later years, with a devout fanbase who have eagerly awaited any news of a sequel or a reboot.
Based on the comics of Dave Stevens and set in 1930s Los Angeles, The Rocketeer tells the story of ace pilot Cliff Secord, who stumbles across an experimental jet-pack that allows the wearer to fly without an airplane. Donning a helmet that protects his head and conceals his identity, Cliff uses the jet-pack to become a superhero. His heroic exploits attract the attention of the American government and the Nazi agents who originally stole the jet-pack, both of whom begin hunting Cliff for their own purposes.
Collider broke the story on the new animated series, which will be taking the basic concept of The Rocketeer in a whole new direction. The show will focus on Kit, a young girl who receives a surprise package on her birthday which contains a familiar helmet and jet-pack. Armed with this new gear, Kit will join forces with her tech-minded friend Tesh and airplane mechanic uncle Ambrose to fight crime as the new Rocketeer.
Joe D’Ambrosia, Senior Vice President of Original Programming at Disney Junior had this to say about the new series.
"We are very excited to introduce ‘The Rocketeer’ to our young Disney Junior audience. The vast storytelling found in the original comic books provides the perfect opportunity to create an exciting new adventure series told from a young girl superhero perspective that the whole family can enjoy together."
It is unclear at this time if the new series will be set in the modern era or if it will also be set in the 1930s like the original comic books and movie. It is known that the new cartoon will be aimed at children ages 2-7 and that each half-hour episode will be made up of two 11-minute segments, featuring one original song. Wild Canary Animation will produce the series on behalf of Disney Junior and Nicole Dubuc (of Transformers: Rescue Bots) is slated to act as the new show's executive producer.
While it seems unlikely this new series will be the revamp that fans of the classic The Rocketeer had hoped for, it does seem like a promising new direction for the franchise. STEAM-based programming is the biggest trend in children's entertainment right now and developing the property in a way that takes advantage of its scientific roots to create something fun and educational can only benefit the series in the long run. It's also heartening to see Disney taking the initiative in making the new Rocketeer a girl when the superhero market for children is so vastly under-served when it comes to female heroes.
Disney Junior's The Rocketeer will premiere sometime in 2019.