Disney's pilot turned propelled superhero celebrated his 20th anniversary last week. Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer – based on Dave Stevens comic about a 1930's wingman who stumbles onto a rocket pack device that helps him battle Nazis, thwart gangsters, and other high-flying shenanigans – was a box office bomb, but has since gathered a cult following. Rocketeer nerd Kevin Smith even hosted the recent Q&A at El Capitan Theater for the anniversary screening, where he applauded Johnston's movie as "the finest comic book adaptation … of all time."
As Smith pointed out during the event, superhero films weren't the norm in 1991: "You (Johnston) pulled this off 20 years ago, when nobody was making anything but maybe Batman. And you were able to step in and make an elegant film," he told audiences – which included the director, star Billy Campbell, and others in The Rocketeer crew.
Johnston gets to wash Universal's clunky redux of The Wolfman right out of his hair, with next month's Captain America: The First Avenger. The new movie shares a similar aesthetic with the all-American aviator. IDW's reissue of Cliff Secord's story in the form of the recently pressed Rocketeer Adventures seems apt in light of all this. So does Digital Banana Studio's fan film, which is the perfect complement to the aw shucks apple pie you should be eating right about now.
The Rocketeer 20th anniversary from John Banana on Vimeo.