The Rocketeer TV series Billy Campbell

A strong case could be made that Disney’s 1991 film The Rocketeer is the best comic book movie Hollywood has ever produced. Director Joe Johnston delivered pitch-perfect execution of the film’s soaring adventure story, sparking the imaginations of a generation and wonderfully capturing the spirit of comic book writer/artist Dave Stevens‘ 1930s-era stories of derring-do. Sadly, the film tanked at the box office (it opened the same weekend as Terminator 2), and a sequel has yet to materialize.

But Disney recognizes the value in that piece of intellectual property – the company is keeping the franchise alive in the form of a new animated series on Disney Junior. And they’ve hired the movie’s leading man, actor Billy Campbell, to lend his voice to the new show. But he won’t be reprising the role of hotshot stunt pilot Cliff Secord in The Rocketeer TV series. Read on to find out who Campbell is playing instead.

GeekTyrant points out that original Rocketeer star Billy Campbell has signed on to play a different role in Disney Junior’s The Rocketeer animated show. Instead of doling out advice to the next generation as Cliff Secord, he’ll play a character named Dave Secord instead, the father of seven-year-old girl named Kit Secord who inherits the iconic helmet. Kathy Najimy (Hocus Pocus) plays Kit’s mother. Here’s the synopsis for the new series from a Disney press release:

Set in the idyllic small town of Hughesville, each episode of The Rocketeer is comprised of two 11-minute stories that follow Kit as she embarks on a high-flying adventure to help save her community and its residents from trouble — usually brought on by the many comedic villains who will be featured throughout the series. As with most superheroes, Kit has a team to help her pull off her heroic adventures and keep her identity hidden from the masses. Her best friend, Tesh, serves as Ground Control when Kit takes to the skies and is also the inventor of the hi-tech gadgets and upgrades for her rocket-pack; and her grandfather, Ambrose Secord, works at the Hughesville Airport and serves as her mechanic. Also along for the ride is Kit’s loyal bulldog, Butch.

In the premiere episode, Kit receives a surprise package on her birthday containing The Rocketeer’s helmet, which Grandpa Ambrose immediately recognizes as belonging to the famed superhero. With that, he unveils the rocket-pack which he was told to hang on to until the next Rocketeer was chosen. As Kit learns the ropes of becoming a flying superhero, Grandpa Ambrose and Tesh help with her training.

The Hughesville shout-out is cute, considering that famed aviator Howard Hughes was a major part of the original movie (played by Lost‘s Terry O’Quinn), and it’s cool that Campbell is coming back to play a part in another project that gave his career a boost at a young age (he’s since appeared in shows like The 4400, The Killing, Helix, and tons of other shows and movies). But I have a dire question about the line of succession for the jetpack: how on Earth did old Grandpa Ambrose decide that it’s OK for this thing to go to a seven-year-old? Just because she gets the helmet in the mail, she’s automatically ready to cruise through the skies? Obviously the answer is “it’s a kid’s show, you moron, don’t overthink it,” so I’ll digress. The Rocketeer TV series debuts on Disney Jr. on November 8, 2019.

In the meantime, Disney started developing a live-action sequel three years ago, but since we haven’t heard any updates about that movie since then, I’m not sure about the status of it at this point.

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