Just as IDW Publishing revived The Rocketeer last year in comics, Disney appears ready to return Dave Stevens’ beloved superhero to the big screen.
Vulture reports that the studio, which released the original film in 1991, will soon meet with writers to discuss a reboot of the property, which centers on a stunt pilot in 1938 Los Angeles who becomes a helmet-wearing crime-fighter after discovering a stolen rocket-pack prototype.
It may seem like a surprising move for Disney, considering the Joe Johnston-directed movie was a commercial failure (it grossed just $62 million but had an estimated $42 million production budget). But the website suggests it may be an early indication that new studio chairman Alan Horn “doesn’t just view his new job at Disney Studios as that of a mere portfolio manager.”
Debuting in 1982, the Rocketeer was Stevens’ ode to the classic Saturday matinee heroes, and his early adventures were steeped in references to pulp magazines and popular culture of the era. The late artist envisioned a film adaptation virtually from the start, and sold the rights first to director Steve Miner and then in 1985 to writers Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo (The Flash). After their pitch was turned down by several studios, it finally landed at Disney, where it languished for five years because of creative differences — Bilson and DeMeo were fired three times — before Johnston, a fan of Stevens’ comics, finally stepped in as director.
Johnston, who went on to helm such films as Jumanji, October Sky and Jurassic Park III, most recently directed Marvel’s hit Captain America: The First Avenger. That means Disney probably has his phone number; maybe they should give him a call.