Get ready for more of “The Rocketeer”! Twenty-five years after the first “Rocketeer” film, itself based on the indie comics hero created by Dave Stevens, Disney has announced that a “sequel-reboot” of the film is now in development. The film will pick up six years after the disappearance of the original Rocketeer and follow a new pilot as they strap on the jetpack and enter into a Cold War battle.
That’s right, the new film — titled “The Rocketeers” — won’t follow original lead character Cliff Secord. Instead, the lead hero role will be played by a Black woman. This update will make “The Rocketeers” one of the few comic-based films with a Black woman in the lead role — and the first one since 2004’s “Catwoman” and “Alien vs. Predator.”
As a reboot of a recognizable coming from a major studio like Disney, heading up “The Rocketeers'” cast will not only be a big deal, but it could either be a star-making turn for an actor or take an already successful one to completely new heights. Luckily there are plenty of actors ready and willing to take on an action-packed hero role like the Rocketeer. Here are the 10 actors we need to see succeed Cliff Secord as the Rocketeer.
11. Nicole Beharie
As the co-lead of “Sleepy Hollow,” Nicole Beharie became a kick-ass action hero for a wide audience of fans. Her Lt. Abbie Mills became a modern day Agent Dana Scully. Like the “X-Files” trailblazer, Abbie Mills was a no-nonsense straight shooter, fiercely capable and paired up with a… we’ll say difficult… partner. But unlike the medical doctor Scully, Beharie’s Mills was also a woman of action. She was a no-frills ass-kicker of the highest order — and that’s something we’d want to see in “The Rocketeers.” Beharie has left “Sleepy Hollow,” stepping away from the show after three seasons. But considering just how special Beharie’s role on the show was, it’d be a shame to see her leave the spotlight for long. Give Beharie a superhero franchise, she’d own it. (Brett White)
10. Samira Wiley
Anyone that’s even watched just one “Orange is the New Black” scene featuring Samira Wiley knows that she is an actor that is destined to soar. As Poussey, Wiley infused her character with equal parts confidence and vulnerability. Initially a supporting player on the critically acclaimed show, Poussey saw her role expanded as the show continued on; her journey through Season Two of the Netflix series saw Wiley perform joy, loss, bravery and deep betrayal. That means that Wiley’s got the range. And while only 5’3″ tall, Wiley projects a strength through her performance that is downright superheroic. It’s easy to see why Poussey became one of “OitNB’s” most beloved characters and Wiley one of the show’s scene-stealing stars. Now it’s time to see this Juilliard-trained actor step into feature films — specifically one that will put her specific, charismatic energy to good use. Make her the Rocketeer. (Brett White)
9. Gina Torres
Move over, Wash — it’s Zoe’s turn at the helm! “Firefly” star Gina Torres is no stranger to taking charge, having played Malcolm Reynold’s intimidating second-in-command in the cult-classic (and short-lived) series, which makes her a perfect fit for the Rocketeer. What’s more, she has a history with comic book adaptations; aside from being a very popular fan choice for Wonder Woman, she has voiced the Amazonian princess in “DC Universe” as well as Superwoman in “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths,” among others. Torres has some serious nerd cred, and her name would make a great addition to another fan-favorite franchise.
There’s just one caveat: at 47, it’s a stretch for Torres to fit the description of a “young” African-American pilot. That being said, the film is in such early development that it’s entirely possible for this aspect of the character to change. Additionally, by making this new Rocketeer just a tad older, Disney could draw inspiration from real-life African-American pilots of the era; take, for instance, Mildred Carter, who became the first Black woman to get her pilot’s license at the age of 18. (Meagan Damore)
8. Amber Stevens West
Amber Stevens West should be on everybody’s radar at this point. After making a splash on “Greek,” the up-and-comer went on to create a lasting impression in “22 Jump Street,” where she offered a solid comedic performance — most of the time, playing it straight next to Jonah Hill — while giving us a taste of her dramatic talent. Since then, Stevens West has appeared as a regular on “The Carmichael Show,” where her charm continues to be on display alongside major comedic forces like Jerrod Carmichael and David Alan Greer. We think it’s about time Stevens West was given the shot at a comic book movie role (apart from her minor appearance in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” of course), and “The Rocketeers” would be a great start. There’s a charisma and intensity to Stevens West that would bode well for playing a superhero, and her ability to play off strong performers could be a major benefit, should the film cast A-listers in the supporting cast. Going with a lesser-known actress like Stevens West would not only be a fresh gift for audiences, but redefine the Rocketeer for a new generation, with a powerful, magnetic actress at the helm of the portrayal. (Anthony Couto)
Beyonce is already one of the most famous, most successful and most beloved people on Earth; the fringe benefits of a career built on powerful performances and scads of catchy yet meaningful super-hits. One area she hasn’t quite mastered, though, is being a movie star. Though we all remember he acting debut in 2001’s made-for-MTV “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” (just us? OK, fine), but other than her acclaimed role in “Dreamgirls,” her film appearances have been fairly forgettable, if not retrospectively bewildering (“Austin Powers in Goldmember”?).
Yet with the release of the short film that accompanied her “Lemonade” album, Beyonce showed not only reminded fans that she’s a powerful force on screen, she definitely still seems interested in the medium. While another supporting role doesn’t make sense for a star of her stature, a starring turn in a potential franchise like the new “Rocketeer” movie sounds like a good fit, and would firmly put “Pink Panther” in her acting past. (Albert Ching)
6. Halle Berry
It’s a shame that Halle Berry’s last shot as the lead character in a superhero movie was in “Catwoman.” Yeah, there were a lot of problems with that movie (which came out only a year before “Batman Begins,” if you can believe it), but her acting wasn’t necessarily one of them. Simply put, Berry hasn’t been cast as the right hero. Alongside an ensemble, her performance as Storm in the X-Men movies is okay, but we think, as an Oscar-winner, the veteran actress deserves a more meaty role to work with — so what better than the leading part in “The Rocketeers”? There’s a weight to casting a seasoned performer like Berry that would draw a lot of attention to “The Rocketeers,” which may be necessary since it’s a lesser-known property. Plus, Berry has a charismatic charm that hasn’t been showcased in a while, but we know it’s there — check out “Swordfish” for reference! (Anthony Couto)
5. Simone Missick
Simone Missick is on the verge of being a major player in the world of genre movies and television. Her career so far includes mainly guest and recurring spots on a number of TV dramas, but her profile will soon raise when she plays Misty Knight on Marvel’s Netflix series “Luke Cage.” While we haven’t yet seen any footage of Missick in the role, we know a lot about who Misty Knight is. For one, she’s a no-nonsense detective with a strong moral compass and nerves of steel. If Missick’s playing a character like that — and her interviews indicate that she is — then the Rocketeer seems like a natural fit for her. And here’s another thing: thanks to her role in a Marvel TV series, Missick’s already a part of the extended Disney family. Heck, she’s even a part of Disney’s extended comic-based family. A lead role in an action-packed feature film would be a great career move following a profile-raising role in “Luke Cage.” (Brett White)
4. Danielle Brooks
Samira Wiley isn’t the only “Orange is the New Black” star ready for blockbuster attention. Danielle Brooks’ Taystee is a can’t miss character from that show — mostly because Taystee is loud, cocky and confident in a way that few female characters are allowed to be. Brooks — also a Juilliard-trained actor — approaches every scene with Taystee as if she’s making a cross court shot right at the buzzer. She goes for it, every time, devouring every line and punctuating them with the most vibrant expressions on television. And lest you think Taystee’s a two-dimensional wise-cracker, Brooks also effortlessly incorporated the character’s math skills and “Harry Potter” love. Brooks currently deploys her talents on Broadway, where she stars as Sofia in the revival of “The Color Purple.” And yes, Brooks can sing; it would be fantastic to see a 1950s-set Rocketeer go from being a lounge singer to a jetpack-wearing crimefighter. Danielle Brooks is a star, and she needs to play a character that soars toward stars. (Brett White)
3. Tessa Thompson
Since her role as Jackie in season two of “Veronica Mars,” Tessa Thompson has quietly built a resume with healthy amounts of both genre television (“Heroes,” the short-lived “666 Park Avenue,” HBO’s upcoming “Westworld”) and celebrated films (“Dear White People,” “Selma,” “Creed”). Her next move won’t be a quiet one: Playing Asgardian superhero Valkyrie in Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” due out in Nov. 2017.
Thompson’s career trajectory has been impressive to watch, and the lead role in a possible franchise like “The Rocketeer” feels like a natural next step. She already has a Marvel role, which may actually be an advantage for anchoring another major Disney feature — such a thing worked out pretty well for stars like Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Alice in Wonderland”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Jungle Book,” “Black Panther”), just to name two. (Albert Ching)
2. Leslie Jones
“Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones is fresh off of the new “Ghostbusters” film, which proved she has the wherewithal to hold her own in an action franchise. There, she played Patty Tolan, a peppy MTA worker with a love of New York City and historical non-fiction who wasn’t afraid to put herself on the line when her hometown became infested with ghosts. Jones could easily take the verve she showed in “Ghostbusters” and apply it to the role of the Rocketeer; a superhero needs ambition and drive, something Jones is no stranger to. Further, she could bring some humor to the role, which is all but a requirement for a retro franchise so filled with light and optimism. Like Torres, Jones is a bit too old to be called “young,” but she always manages to bring youthful energy to her roles nonetheless. (Meagan Damore)
1. New Blood
While any of the 10 women mentioned here would be fantastic in the role, it’s best not to forget that this could be a venue for a breakout star. As it is, there are few black women who have broken through Hollywood’s thick-as-ever glass ceiling into the realm of blockbuster, highly-bankable action star, and this would be a fantastic opportunity for Disney to give some unknown talent a boost. “The Rocketeers” could easily be a place for some new blood to really take off. Plus, Disney is notorious for locating and launching the careers of bright young stars (just look at Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), and “The Rocketeers” is as good a place as any to continue that tradition. (Meagan Damore)
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