The Rocketeer was a Disney box office disappointment when the comic adaptation was released in 1991. Captain America director Joe Johnston helmed the tale about stunt pilot Cliff Secord who discovers a mysterious rocket that enables him to fly, becoming a hero in the process. Nazis, the FBI and Howard Hughes also get in on the act. After languishing in development hell over creative differences, the film won the hearts of many critics who cited it as one of the most faithful comic book retellings they had ever seen. Its spirit (recalling the popular series of the 1930s), imagination and heart didn't translate to revenue, however, due to cruddy marketing. Eventually it became lost in a sea of Terminator sequel buzz. Over the years fans have heard rumors of a reboot, but Disney didn't seem to want to take a chance on their jet-pack-powered lemon. Now, Vulture is reporting that the movie is up for a remake.
Disney will apparently be meeting with writers for pitches, which is an interesting twist for the studio that has focused on its cash cow properties like Marvel, The Muppets and Pixar. The Rocketeer has a strong fan base in subsequent years. Its earnest, pulp appeal and unlikely blend of whimsy and acting talent (Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Sorvino, Alan Arkin and Jon Polita to name a few) isn't something we get to see a lot of these days — particularly when it comes to superhero stories. We'd like to think Disney would honor that in some way, but this could just be the start of another merchandising frenzy — a film primed for a set of sequels and other tie-ins.
Who can channel the magic of the period adventure without turning into a mere Indiana Jones rip-off or hulking hero porn? What writers are you on your shortlist?