So according to Firstshowing.net Disney plans to reboot The Rocketeer…well I think they need to know that Archaia Entertainment has new a kid on the block and his name is “Jet” and he too is adorned with a diesel-powered flight giver. Is Hollywood big enough for two World War II heroes? I don’t know…. but for those of you who have no fucking idea who I’m talking about allow me to enlightened you.
Illustrator Dave Stevens (July 29, 1955 – March 11, 2008) rolled the first issue of The Rocketeer out in 1982 under Eclipse Comics, a New York based independent comic book publisher in the 80’s. The story, based loosely on The King Of The Rocketmen and Commander Cody series of the 40’s, contained that style of World War II pin up art that Dave became known for. This story of a normal man who stumbles across this advanced piece of German technology during the war and uses it for good, mimicked the pulp comics of it’s predecessors like Will Eisner’s “The Spirit” or Henry W. Ralston’s “Doc Savage“. The stories all had that serial cliff hanger that was not unlike the short films of it’s time. The popularity of The Rocketeer was due in no small part to his sexy pin up illustrations in particular his love for the late pin up model Bettie Page who he modeled The Rocketeer’s girlfriend after.
Dave’s love for The Rocketeer ran deep, so much so that often times the release dates on his comics were pushed back due to his research into the illustrations and his need to keep it as authentic as possible. I guess at some point during his undying love he realized he needed to pay the bills and sold the rights to The Rocketeer to Disney in 1983, only a year after the book hit the stands. Thus began the fiasco, that is, trying to change The Rocketeer into something it wasn’t. You see originally Steven’s wanted to shoot The Rocketeer in black and white and on a low budget staying true to the serial style, but that didn’t hold up and the idea to make it big budget soon took over. During preprodution Disney also unsexified the Rocketeers main squeeze Bettie and made her more of a girl next door type played by Jennifer Connelly. They also casted an unknown in the role of the lead (Billy Campbell). I’m not saying that this was what contributed to the demise of this film at the box office, but I will say that it may have been a bit too soon for something, surprisingly enough, set in the 40’s. I say this only because there’s a level of honesty and a non commercial element about The Rocketeer that lends itself to an original, fresh and not genre inundated block buster film. It needed to be cult from the beginning and that’s where it failed. If Disney intends to approach this project again it mustn’t do it thinking about dollars (I know…impossible), but it should think about how Dave would’ve wanted it and find a director who has this amazing illustrators best interest in mind. So far no word on whose writing or directing this reboot has come out of the mouse camp. Both Dark Horse Comics and has released revamped issues of The Rocketeer including Dave Steven’s The Rocketeer, The Complete Adventures released by IDW in 2009. I guess in hindsight the news about the reboot comes as no surprise considering IDW has tons of projects being slated for the big screen (The Ghostbusters 3,Star Trek 2), another reason why this material must be handled with kid gloves and not money grubbing ones.
Fast forward twenty one years (damn has it been that long) and comic book writer and illustrator Royden Lepp (David: The Shepard’s Song, RUST) releases Rust under Archaia Entertainment. Still within the World War II pulp vein, this story is a more complicated look at the “what if’s” of WWII through the eyes of “Jet” a mysterious boy who one day crashes through the barn on the Taylor family farm located somewhere in the middle of nowhere, perhaps America? But still not sure. I’ve read two of the RUST trades “Visitor in the field” and “Secrets of The Cell” and I must say they both read like The Rocketeer movie that never was. I think we can all agree that for some a more detailed and yes more interesting storyline needed to happen for The 90’s Rocketeer film, something other than what we all knew about this kid who basically gains power and then tries to use it, but realizes that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be a.k.a Spiderman.
Rust is a high-octane adventure set in the prairie lands of an unknown time. Life on the Taylor family farm was difficult enough before Jet Jones crashes into the barn, chased by a giant decommissioned war robot! Oldest son Roman Taylor struggles to keep his family’s small farm afloat as the area heals from a devastating world war. While the rest of his family may not trust the mysterious boy with the jetpack, Roman believes the secrets of Jet’s past may be the key to their survival.
Although the art in RUST doesn’t hold up to Dave Steven’s artwork, it excels in other areas like mystery and action and oh yeah robots. Without giving too much away, RUST is the modern day Rocketeer, in fact it would be amazing to see what Hollywood could do if both The Rocketeer and Rust storyline were somehow combined into each other…Gasp (I mean seriously, what better way to show your respect.) The news that RUST was being brought to the big screen broke on July 12th 2012. It is said that Attack The Block (amazing film by the way) director Joe Cornish was going to direct and that Devil Wears Prada writer Aline Brosh McKenna was writing the script. We all know how these things go, so until I see leaked footage from the set of this production I’ll regard this as a rumor, but one I’m praying to G-d happens. America has had a long history of heroes most going on to do fairly good and bringing in tons of money for the studios, but in light of recent Hollywood remakes (Total Recall, Judge Dredd) I’m gonna say stay away from this Rocketeer reboot Disney, cause your recent films haven’t been the cats pajamas (Tron Legacy,Pirates of the shoot me now). That said, I give my blessings to Royden and the rumored people behind RUST, this film, if done right, could be the start of an amazing franchise and the beginning of a legacy of spin offs. I’m not ruling out the Rocketeer, just showing my love for Archaia and their original titles that all have amazing potential and are done by both great writer’s and illustrators, but most importantly Archaia isn’t a company whose sole purpose is to by up rights to our childhood so they can make money off of them. Here’s to hoping that Archaia will be the next Weta/Dreamworks of filmable content in the next few years. No word on a production date has been set on either film.