A Young Girl Picks Up the Mantle of The Rocketeer in a New Animated Series

PSA for Parents: That Joe Johnston movie The Rocketeer you dug as a kid? Your kids are gonna love the cartoon version.
By  · Published on February 27th, 2018

PSA for Parents: That Joe Johnston movie The Rocketeer you dug as a kid? Your kids are gonna love the cartoon version.

Parents, this one is really for you. The Rocketeer is back! Albeit, as an animated series on Disney Junior. But, back nonetheless. This time around, i09 is reporting that a young girl named Kit will receive a surprise birthday present (spoiler – it’s a rocket pack) that will take her down a path of adventure and super-heroism.

The show’s description brings to mind a previous Disney Junior smash hit, Jake and the Never Land Pirates. It was an update to the Peter Pan world which featured Jake and his pals teaming up to fight the nefarious Captain Hook. Songs were sung, lessons learned, and knowledge was imparted. The Rocketeer episodes will be structured similarly. They’ll have two, independent stories about eleven minutes long each. There’ll be a team and she’ll go on adventures with her best friend and uncle.

Since the show will be targeted for the 2-7 age range that Disney Junior goes in for, I doubt Kit’ll be fighting Nazis and Hollywood lotharios. I’m picturing a villain somewhere along the lines of Dr. Claw and his MAD organization from Inspector Gadget.

You know, that’s a show that recently had its own successful reboot featuring a leading role for a young girl. The reboot featured Penny as a primary character as a full-fledged agent-in-training. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a hot new trend. Don’t think we didn’t notice last week when Disney announced the development of an animated Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series, either.

According to the Disney Junior senior vice president of original programming Joe D’Ambrosia, the goal of the new Rocketeer series is to provide some entertainment the whole family can sit down and enjoy. It will also pull from the original comic book material to find its footing. To which I say: yes, please. My family is constantly on the look-out for superhero entertainment featuring young girls or women.

If you’re an older Millenial or the youngest of the Gen-Xers, you’ll remember Joe Johnston made a film in 1991 called The Rocketeer, featuring the daring exploits of a racing pilot (Billy Campbell) who teamed up with Howard Hughes (Terry O’Quinn) to beat back a Nazi infiltration of Hollywood. It was very pulpy. But, my goodness, it was fun. The film has become a bit of a secret passion for folks who were around the perfect age when it premiered to fall in love with the film’s silly madness.

Almost two years ago, Disney announced a cinematic continuation of the 1991 film. The sequel was going to be called The Rocketeers and would have featured an African-American woman in the lead role. That would have been a pretty great project. In fact, that’s still a damn good idea. I hope the recent Black Panther success reignites their passion for making the sequel.

When the news of the sequel was announced, Film School Rejects’ Boss Man and fellow Rocketeer enthusiast Neil Miller, speculated the re-focus might provoke yet another round of complaints about childhoods being ruined. He was probably right. Certain men of the internet can’t handle women taking the focus away from the various male characters of their beloved Intellectual Properties. Those IPs actually belong to mega-corporations and exist primarily to sell merchandise. It isn’t clear if the sequel project stalled or simply evolved into the current animated series. Who knows whether the concern for that type of backlash was a factor?

Regardless, if the show performs well those seven-year-old kids will be pretty damn excited for a big screen live action sequel in half a decade. And you know their parents will be right there with them. The series premieres sometime in 2019.

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Writer for Film School Rejects. He currently lives in Virginia, where he is very proud of his three kids, wife, and projector. Co-Dork on the In The Mouth of Dorkness podcast.