David Oyelowo Gives Update on His ‘Rocketeer’ Sequel: ‘We Have Forward Momentum’

The follow-up to the 1991 Disney cult classic hasn’t been grounded

Rocketeer
Disney

While talking with David Oyelowo about his Paramount+ streaming series “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” we had to ask about another larger-than-life character that he’s meant to bring to life: The sequel to Disney’s “The Rocketeer.”

The good news? “We have forward momentum,” Oyelowo tells TheWrap.

Announced in 2021, the sequel to the 1991 cult hit is being produced by Oyelowo and his wife, Jessica Oyelowo and he may star in it as well. The original movie was set in pre-World War II Hollywood, while Oyelowo’s film will take place after the war and follow a former Tuskegee airman — the unit of Black army air force pilots who served with distinction in World War II — who comes into possession of the Rocketeer suit.

“We have forward momentum. I know you guys hear this stuff all the time, but we are in the script development stage and if you’re going to reinvigorate that beloved franchise, you better come with the goods,” Oyelowo said. “And so Eugene Ashe is currently writing away and we were talking about it only this week. We’re all very committed to that. But it’s going to have to be great and we will not rest until it is.”

Oyelowo’s project is meant to be a follow-up to the 1991 live-action feature Disney released, based on the more adult-leaning comic book property by Dave Stevens. At one point J.D. Dillard was attached to direct. He no longer is. But TheWrap had exclusively reported earlier this year that Eugene Ashe had been hired to write the script for the project.

We asked Oyelowo what made him think, Okay, I have a spin on this. “Well, I loved the original film. I remember seeing it, and again, not unlike the cowboy genre, there was something about it, the aspirational, inspirational, heroic quality of it. I also liked that it was sort of a bit more DIY and do it yourself in terms of the pack. It wasn’t superpowers. It was a guy. It just felt more grounded somehow,” Oyelowo said.

As for this new version of the character, Oyelowo said, “I had the idea of what happens if the jetpack is passed on to an ex-Tuskegee Airman, someone who you’re not having to do a bunch of heavy lifting as to why does he have the skill and the bravery to be able to don the pack and go off and be heroic?”

Oyelowo continued: “That is something that I think the original film had to do a little bit more heavy lifting around is… Secord, he’s this circus pilot, and then how does he get to do that? And all that kind of stuff. But a guy coming out of World War II who is an ace at what he does, those skills are transferable. And that became the jump off for what felt like, and thankfully Disney agreed, a very exciting way into doing this story in a slightly different way.”

Billy Campbell starred in the original film as a stunt pilot who happens upon a rocket designed by Howard Hughes that gangsters and Nazis are also after. When the film was released in the summer of 1991, Disney hoped it would be the next “Batman.” It was not. But while it was a commercial disappointment, it has gained an audience in the years that have followed. And clearly the property is still valuable to Disney.

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