Disney’s ‘The Rocketeer’ Reboot Heats Up with Gender and Race-Swapped Lead

     July 28, 2016

Back in 2012, a couple of months before it was announced that Disney was purchasing Lucasfilm and moving ahead with new Star Wars movies, the studio set its sights on a different kind of franchise reboot: The Rocketeer. We heard that the Mouse House was in the early stages of rebooting the swell 1930s-set adventure film, but then the Luacasfilm deal happened and Disney became very busy with building out a whole new Star Wars universe.

Now, however, it appears the Rocketeer reboot is heating back up, as THR reports that the studio has hired Max Winkler and Matt Spicer to pen the script for a redo called The Rocketeers. The film is envisioned as a “sequel-reboot” with a “modern-day twist”, whatever that means. The big news, however, is that The Rocketeers will be led by a black female character.


Image via DIsney

That’s certainly a marked change from the original, which was based on a popular 1980s comic that followed a stunt pilot who discovers a rocket pack and suit and subsequently becomes embroiled with Nazis and mobsters. Joe Johnston—who would go on to helm Jurassic Park III and Captain America: The First Avenger—directed The Rocketeer with a swell cast led by Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, and Timothy Dalton as an Errol Flynn-esque villain.

The story of The Rocketeers will maintain the period setting of the original film, as it picks up six years after the events of that movie with Campbell’s Secord having vanished fighting Nazis:

An unlikely new hero emerges: a young African–American female pilot, who takes up the mantle of Rocketeer in an attempt to stop an ambitious and corrupt rocket scientist from stealing jetpack technology in what could prove to be a turning point in the Cold War.

the-rocketeer-posterGiven that The Rocketeer drew heavily from 1930s serials, it’ll be interesting to see what this “modern day twist” does to alter the tone and feel of the franchise. Moreover, given that drones are ever-present and audiences have become accustomed to superheroes flying any and everywhere (particularly the Rocketeer-esque Iron Man), one imagines the central conceit of a jet pack and suit will be updated to make it more…impressive.

However, I like the idea of handing the reigns of the franchise over to a black female lead. It’s a solid way of not trying to “replace” Campbell’s original character, and I appreciate the fact that it’ll continue the story where Johnston’s film left off.

This is just now in the scripting stage and could very well further evolve during development, but as a big fan of Johnston’s original film I have to say I’m oddly excited about this news. What about you, folks? Are you interested in seeing a new Rocketeer story? Have we all learned our lesson that just because someone reboots a beloved film, that doesn’t mean the original loses any of its luster/ceases to exist? Sound off in the comments below.


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