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Rocketeer Movie Poster
Rocketeer Movie Poster

The Rocketeer is a superhero created by writer/illustrator Dave Stevens that first appeared in a back-up feature of Pacific Comics' Starslayer #2 (1982). The character is an homage to the pulp heroes of the 1930s and 1940s.

The Rocketeer was a stunt pilot who discovered a mysterious jet pack that allowed him to fly. The adventures were set in 1938 Los Angeles and Stevens gave them a retro, nostalgic feel influenced by, among other things, Commando Cody movie serials and pinup diva Bettie Page.

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Publication history

The Rocketeer’s first adventure appeared as a backup feature to Mike Grell's Starslayer #2 from Pacific Comics in 1982. Four more installments appeared in various Pacific publications, and were later collected together by Eclipse Comics. The fifth chapter ended in a cliffhanger.

The story picked up again in the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine. Two issues were published by Comico Comics in 1988 and 1989, but the third did not appear until years later, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1995. All three issues were collected by Dark Horse as The Rocketeer: Cliff's New York Adventure.

There was talk of further stories, perhaps with other artists, but nothing came of it.

The Movie

1991 superhero adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures/Touchstone Pictures and directed by Joe Johnston, making his third feature film. It is based on the comic book The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens about a young stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious rocket pack that allows him to fly.

The Rocketeer had its world premiere on 19 June 1991 in Hollywood at the 1,100 seat El Capitan Theater which had been reopened after a two-year restoration project. Promotion just prior to its release included comparisons to the Indiana Jones Series. The recent success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, only fueled expectations that the general public would be equally receptive to another movie of that genre. However, following its release on 21 June 1991 in 1,616 theaters, The Rocketeer grossed only $9.6 million on its opening weekend and would go on to make $46.7 million in North America, just recouping its estimated $40 million budget. Disney executives were disappointed in the box office take (and sales of related merchandise) and very early hopes for a sequel were quietly squashed.


The Rocketeer was nominated for Best Science Fiction film, Best Special Effects and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly) at the 1992 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, where Marilyn Vance ultimately won a Saturn Award for Best Costumes in 1991. The film was also nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation at the 1992 Hugo Awards.

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