Disney Has Announced The Rocketeer Is Getting A Sequel

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By: Karen Valenzuela (@VictoriaNoir89)

It has been 25 years since The Rocketeer first flew into theaters in 1991. In the meantime, the film has amassed quite the fandom and could even be considered to have reached cult status amongst an entire generation – those of us who grew up in the 1980s and 90s.

On Thursday, Disney announced they will be expanding the world of The Rocketeer! But don’t worry, folks. This isn’t just another Disney reboot; instead, we’re getting a sequel to the original film!

The project is still in its earliest stages, but we know a few things so far. It will be called The Rocketeers, and will take place six years after the events of the film. Cliff Secord has vanished overseas while fighting the Nazis, making way for another pilot to take up the Rocketeer mantle to stop a mad rocket scientist from using the jetpack technology in the Cold War. Disney made another announcement as well: not only will the protagonist be someone other than Billy Campbell, the actor who portrayed the original Rocketeer, The Rocketeers will have a woman donning the legendary jetpack and helmet. Entertainment news sources are especially up in arms over the announcement that the film’s heroine will be an African-American woman. Fantastic news!

Sidenote: Media outlets have been calling this character decision a “modern twist,” but let’s take a moment to yearn for a time in the future when the announcement of a black female as a film’s protagonist gets the same amount of attention as the announcement of a white male does. Because that will mean films are casting black women as leads on a regular basis. That being said, it will be fascinating to see how having a black female hero instead of a white male hero changes the dynamic in a 1940s American setting.

The Rocketeer character, created by Dave Stevens, first appeared in the Starslayer comic series in 1982. Young barnstormer pilot Cliff Secord stumbles upon a rocket jetpack government prototype, drawing the attention of the FBI and Nazi spies alike when he starts to make headlines with his jetpack heroism. The character is heavily influenced by the pulp heroes of the 1930s and 40s, with heavy doses of patriotism and anti-fascism.

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The 1991 film’s themes are very similar to the comics. It takes place in 1938, on the cusp of World War II. Nazis are the big baddies, trying to steal the US government’s prototype for the jetpack, the same jetpack Cliff Secord finds hidden at his airfield after it’s stolen from Howard Hughes. Adventure and romance ensues. Five years after her breakout role in Labyrinth, Jennifer Connelly played Jenny, Cliff’s aspiring actress girlfriend who ended up being a hero in her own right. The action is very much tied in with the politics of the late 1930s in America. In one word: patriotism. The gangsters turn on the man who hired them when they discover he’s a Nazi agent. “I may not make an honest buck, but I’m 100% American. I don’t work for no two-bit Nazi!”

It’s hard to imagine The Rocketeers will give us a villain better than Neville Sinclair, heartthrob Hollywood actor who’s secretly an agent for the Nazis. Come on, he’s Timothy Dalton! The way he knocks Cliff over on his back and delivers that “I do my own stunts!” line is just too good. Or his jaunty, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Not to mention, Alan Arkin’s performance as Peevy is legendary! And who can forget Tiny Ron as Lothar, Sinclair’s giant henchman of few words?

Rocketeer Sequel TNM PIC 2

The Rocketeer is an absolute classic – cheesy dialogue and high-flying adventure included. I mean, how do you top that climactic battle between The Rocketeer and Neville Sinclair in the zeppelin in the skies above the Hollywood sign? Add to that James Horner’s accompanying film score that sounded straight out of a 1930s adventure flick and you’ve got gold.

Will the sequel 25 years in the making live up to the original? Only time will tell, nerds! Two years, to be exact, as Disney aims to release the film in 2018.

Are you excited about The Rocketeers? Let us know in the comments!


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