Walt Disney Pictures is rebooting the pulp superhero The Rocketeer. The project is said to be in the early stages of development. The reboot, titled The Rocketeers, is being written by Max Winkler and Matt Spicer.
The Rocketeers will not be a continuity reboot, but a sequel that takes place six years after the original movie and with a black female in the lead role. The film’s plot sees the lead take on the mantle of The Rocketeer after original Rocketeer Cliff Secord went missing while fighting the Nazis. The new Rocketeer goes on a mission to stop a corrupt scientist from stealing jetpack technology and shifting the balance of the Cold War.
The Jungle Book co-producer Brigham Tayler is producing the film, as is Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers and Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers.
The 1991 Rocketeer film was based Dave Stevens’ indie comics from the 1980s. Stevens created a pulp adventure story that was an homage to the serials of the 1930s and 1940s. The Rocketeer followed stunt pilot Cliff Secord who finds a suit and rocket pack that he just can’t resist putting on. The act leads him into conflict with the mob, Nazis, and the FBI.
The original film was directed by Joe Johnston and starred Billy Campbell as Secord, Jennifer Connelly as Secord’s girlfriend, an aspiring actress, Timothy Dalton as a Nazi spy masquerading as an actor, and Alan Arkin as a mechanic who worked with Secord. While a cult classic today, The Rocketeer opened to a disappointing $46.6 million, coming in fourth at the box office.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it was the stunning turnout and fan support for Disney’s 20th-anniversary screening of The Rocketeer at the El Capitan Theater that got the studio thinking about a reboot. However, they felt they needed to find a way to differentiate the character further from Marvel’s Iron Man. If casting the Rocketeer as a young black female was their way of doing that, they may have miscalculated.