"Is that a rocket in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"
The wait is over, friends. The Rocketeer is officially getting a sequel/reboot, with a black female character taking the lead. The Hollywood Reporter reports the reboot, called The Rocketeers, will be set six years after the original when stunt pilot/jet-pack hero Cliff Secord has disappeared in a Nazi battle. Our new heroine will attempt to save the day by stopping a rogue rocket scientist from using jet-pack technology to nefarious ends in the Cold War era.
Writers Max Winkler (son of Henry, and who has directed episodes of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and his writing-producing partner Matt Spicer are on board but there is no director or casting news as of yet. Athletes Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers) and Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), whose new venture Mortal Media is producing, are teaming up with Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book producer Brigham Taylor on the project.
It's been a rocky road to this long-awaited news. See, these days you can throw a dime and hit 10 comic superheroes who have gotten or are getting their own movies, but back in the mid-1980s, it was next to impossible to sell studio execs the idea of spending millions on a movie based around a comic book character. Such was the case with The Rocketeer, which was based on an early '80s comic book, developed for years and then pitched to (and turned down by) the major studios until Disney agreed to pick it up for merchandising potential around the character of stunt pilot Cliff Secord, who uses his trusty jet pack to buzz around 1930s Los Angeles doing good deeds.
The Joe Johnston-directed movie, released in 1991, was appreciated by critics but not so much at the box office, making $46 million on a $35 million budget. It was not helped by relatively unknown leads in newcomer Billy Campbell and Jennifer Connelly (who'd up to then only had success with Labyrinth a few years before), the then-"kiddie" Disney label, and the fact that superhero movies were just not that cool at the time. Plans for a second (and even third) movie were scrapped, though we'd hear rumors of a sequel coming over the years and the movie gained a huge cult following — evidenced by a 20th anniversary screening in Hollywood that drew a huge audience out of the woodwork in 2011. According to THR, that was when Disney reportedly considered a reboot, but Marvel's Iron Man had already claimed the flying-superhero spotlight.
Frankly, as huge fans of the original, we're pretty psyched for this news, changes and all. We'll be curious to see how they pull it off.