The Rocketeer franchise is ready for another liftoff more than a quarter of a century after it was grounded. While rumblings in recent years have teased a reboot movie and even a straight sequel to the original 1991 film, Disney’s family-friendly genre-mixing action brand will soon manifest as an animated series on the Mouse’s youth-aimed cable platform, Disney Junior.
Disney has announced that production on The Rocketeer animated series has already commenced. The franchise-reviving cartoon will – apropos to its platform – be aimed at young children (ages 2-7,) and families, targeting a release in 2019. The story will draw inspiration from The Rocketeer comic book series of Dave Stevens, which adhered to the original film. However, the series will follow the rocket pack-powered exploits of a young female hero. Each episode will be divided into two 11-minute stories and include an original song. Nicole Dubuc (Transformers: Rescue Bots) spearheads as executive producer.
Here is the logo.
For those too young to remember, The Rocketeer was a HUGE deal, and the Disney media machine heavily hyped the buildup to its release on June 21, 1991. – And for good reason, since the film was an imaginative, optimistic and stylistic cinematic offering that tastefully blended Golden Age comic book adventure tropes. Unfortunately, it debuted on a weekend dominated by Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and City Slickers, which drowned its momentum, making a debut at #4, behind the Julia Roberts/Campbell-Scott-starring drama, Dying Young. Indeed, its box office chances would die young, since a few weeks later, the dominance of Terminator 2: Judgment Day would decimate any chance of a Rocketeer rebound. The film, only released domestically, reaped a final tally of $46.7 million.
Here is everything we know.
The Rocketeer Cast
Ahead of The Rocketeer’s panel at SDCC 2019, Disney has announced the cast of the upcoming series. Among that cast is a rather familiar face…only this time he’ll be a voice.
Original Rocketeer (from the 1991 film) Billy Campbell will appear in The Rocketeer animated series as Dave Secord, Kit’s father.
“This is my first voice-acting job ever and I’m thrilled that it’s for The Rocketeer,” Campbell said in a statement. “This has been a really nice full-circle moment for me and I’m looking forward to introducing a new generation of kids, including my own, to the Rocketeer‘s stories.”
Also joining the cast is Kitana Turnbull (A Series of Unfortunate Events) as new Rocketeer Kit. The rest of the voice cast is made up of Frank Welker (Scooby-Doo) as Grandpa Ambrose and Butch the bulldog; Callan Farris (Disney Channel’s upcoming Gabby Duran & The Unsittables) as Kit’s best friend, Tesh; and Navia Robinson (Disney Channel’s Raven’s Home) as Kit’s flight school classmate, Valerie Valkyrie. Voicing the recurring comedic villains in the series are Maria Bamford (Arrested Development) and Kari Wahlgren (DC Superhero Girls) as sister team, Laura and Harley; Maurice LaMarche (Futurama) as Sylvester Slapdash; Charlie Adler (The Transformers franchise) and Parvesh Cheena (Disney Junior’s upcoming Mira, Royal Detective) as The Great Orsino and Deany, respectively; and celebrity chef Ted Allen (Chopped) as Cast-Iron Chef<
The Rocketeer Trailer
Here is a first look at The Rocketeer courtesy of Disney’s SDCC 2019 appearance.
The Rocketeer Story
As the official synopsis reveals:
“The Rocketeer follows Kit, a young girl who receives a surprise package on her birthday revealing she’s next in line to become the Rocketeer, a legendary superhero who has the ability to fly with the help of a rocket-powered jet pack. Armed with her cool new gear and secret identity, Kit is ready to take flight and save the day with her gadget-minded best friend, Tesh, and airplane mechanic uncle, Ambrose, who join her on her epic adventures.”
This, of course, stands in stark contrast to director Joe Johnston’s original 1991 film, The Rocketeer, which – set in the 1940s – starred Billy Campbell as a young heroic pilot, named Cliff Secord, who comes into possession of an experimental Howard Hughes-built rocket pack, thrust into a struggle to keep it out of the hands of Nazi spies who would use it to turn the tide of the War. Indeed, besides the protagonist change, Disney Junior’s The Rocketeer series seems to set itself in contemporary times, though adheres to a “legend” of the titular movie hero, possibly serving as a continuation of the movie continuity.
As Joe D’Ambrosia, senior vice president, Original Programming, Disney Junior, expresses about the series:
“We are very excited to introduce The Rocketeer to our young Disney Junior audience. The vast storytelling found in the original comic books provides the perfect opportunity to create an exciting new adventure series told from a young girl superhero perspective that the whole family can enjoy together.”
Thus, the idea that the series will “introduce” a new generation to The Rocketeer franchise could, in the very least, be seen as a sign that the Mouse is using the cartoon series to till the soil of pop culture for future film plans such as the aforementioned reboot or sequel.
The Rocketeer Release Date
The Rocketeer animated series will be produced by Wild Canary in association with Disney Junior. No specific release date has been revealed.
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