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In the pantheon of Disney movies, 1991’s The Rocketeer rest comfortably in cult favorite territory. While the movie wasn’t financially successful enough to warrant greenlighting a sequel, in recent years there have been various attempts to revive the franchise for the big screen. Well, it looks like the latest effort on that front is the most promising one yet, as word’s come in that a Rocketeer movie starring a Black lead is in the works.
David Oyelowo of Selma and Star Wars Rebels fame is producing The Return of the Rocketeer alongside his wife, Jessica Oyelowo, through their Yoruba Saxon production company. Written by Now You See Me’s Edward Ricourt, Deadline reports that feature will be a Disney+ exclusive that follows a retired Tuskegee Airman who becomes the new Rocketeer. While it’s possible that David Oyelowo could also star in the upcoming Rocketeer movie, that hasn’t been cemented.
Judging by the title, it sounds like The Return of the Rocketeer will serve as a legacy sequel rather than a full-blown reboot, in the same vein as how the new Jumanji movies are tied to the 1995 original. In other words (and keep in mind that this isn’t officially confirmed yet), while The Return of the Rocketeer would likely be set in the same continuity as the original Rocketeer movie, it would, for the most part, be working off a clean slate and be easily accessible to people unfamiliar with the exploits of Billy Campbell’s Cliff Secord, the first person to hold the Rocketeer mantle when he discovered the rocket pack built by Howard Hughes, played in the movie by Terry O’Quinn.
1991’s The Rocketeer also starred Jennifer Connelly as Jenny Blake, Cliff Secord’s love interest; Alan Arkin as Peevy Peabody, Cliff’s airplane mechanic; Timothy Dalton, a Hollywood star and Nazi spy; and Paul Sorvino as Eddie Valentine, the criminal who leads the gang Sinclair hired to steal the rocket pack. Directed by Jumanji and Captain America: The First Avenger’s Joe Johnston, The Rocketeer was based off the same-named comic book character who debuted in 1982’s Starslayer #2 and was an homage to the Saturday matinee film heroes seen from the 1930s to 1950s.
News of The Return of the Rocketeer comes five years after it was reported that the Rocketeer franchise would be rebooted with The Rocketeers, which would have starred a Black female character. Max Winkler and Matt Spicer were hired to write the screenplay, but evidently that project fell through. 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Dan Trachtenberg also pitched a Rocketeer reboot to Disney that would have seen the Nazis invading New York City, but nothing came of that idea either. However, we haven’t been without Rocketeer content in recent years, as there’s a Disney Junior series that features Cliff Secord’s great-granddaughter, Kit Secord, flying around and protecting the town of Hughesville.
As soon as more details about The Return of the Rocketeer trickle in, we’ll let you know. For now, make sure you’re subscribed to Disney+ if you’re interested in any of the streaming service’s other original content, and check out our 2022 release schedule to learn what movies are coming out next year.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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