Disney is revisiting its 1991 cult classic The Rocketeer, with Selma star David Oyelowo producing and circling the starring role. The Return of the Rocketeer will feature a retired Tuskegee airman who stumbles across the jetpack that turns him into a hero. The movie is being written by Ed Ricourt, who wrote the Now You See Me movies, along with a few episodes of shows like Jessica Jones and Wayward Pines.
Oyelowo is making the movie with Yoruba Saxon Productions, which he started with his wife Jessica to make values-based content across many different platforms. The company entered into a highly coveted first-look deal with Disney earlier this year. Return of the Rocketeer will be the first movie produced under their partnership.
In the first Rocketeer movie, a young pilot played by Billy Campbell stumbles across a secret military jetpack that takes him on a whirlwind adventure fighting Nazis alongside Jennifer Connelly and Alan Arkin. Critics weren’t impressed and the box office returns were middling, but the movie’s legacy has grown over the years as director Joe Johnston’s nostalgic pallette and earnest heroism has captured a lot of minds and hearts.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, fighting for their country in World War II even as they were subject to its Jim Crow laws and the military’s own racial segregation. Moving the Rocketeer story to this such a setting offers an opportunity to explore a very different part of the U.S. military narrative.
Last year, Oyelowo spoke to RELEVANT about his passion for racial justice and his concern that the Church is ignoring an opportunity to take leadership on such issues. “Until we repent for that, I do not see how we can expect God to heal our land,” he said. “I’m not hearing that enough within the Church at this time, partly because I think the Church has been co-opted by politics. Speaking out for Black Lives somehow has become tied to which political party supposedly you support.”