It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Project Lazarus” post. And those have all talked about ways to reboot old shows—usually from the 80s—in a more modern context. This time, however, I’d like to take a different approach: Legacy.
While a product of the 80s, and gaining widespread popularity in 1991 with the Disney movie, the Rocketeer is firmly grounded in the WWII era. With the sensitivity of the market today, revisiting anything from the late 30s or early 40s is a minefield. Filled with hyperactive sheep. It’s best to avoid that. So...
The solution is to do a “legacy reboot”. My favorite version of this concept is Batman Beyond. An entirely new character takes up the mantle of a previous hero and makes it their own. In the case of Batman Beyond, the original served as a mentor (and grumpy old “man in the chair”) to the new hero. In the case of Rocketeer, the timespan is too long for that, so he can be the inspiration (and “ghost mentor” (see below)).
2018 Los Angeles. Claudia Secord (mixed-race woman in her early 20s) is a motorcycle mechanic by day, an artist by night, and an illegal street racer on the rare occasion that there’s someone worth her time.
After the death of her grandfather, Malcom Secord, Claudia and her father head up to Malcolm’s old house to sort though his things and reminisce. While digging through things in the attic, Claudia finds an old steamer trunk which, when she opens it contains...
Origin Story 2.0
... The jetpack, helmet, and jacket of the Rocketeer—along with a series of journals from her great grandfather: Clifford Secord. (Via flashbacks with Billy Campbell) she reads the origin of the Rocketeer (with clips from the movie), and his first adventures. She claims the steamer for herself (as the only grandchild helping to sort through the house, she gets first pick), and at the end of the weekend, tosses it in the back of her truck and heads home.
Using her expert skills as a mechanic, she “soups-up” the pack—but keeps the retro look, ‘cuz it’s cool. She brings in a couple close friends who do high-tech to add comms, HUD, and a few other tweaks to an updated version of helmet. She keeps the iconic jacket, but opts for high-laced Doc Martens, and something contemporary (and practical) to replace the jodpurs (based on motorcyle racing suits?).
The Ongoing Story
he story is a classic “coming into her own” tale: Claudia is a young woman who is intelligent, skilled, and confident, but lacking a context that truly challenges her. The Rocketeer gear takes her out of her comfort zone (both physically and morally), while fulfilling her wildest dreams (mechanically). Act 1 of the pilot is about connecting to her roots. Act 2 is about self discovery. Act 3 puts her in the classic scenario: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
At the end of the pilot episode, Claudia chooses to take on the mantle of The Rocketeer.
Throughout the series, great-grandpa Cliff (played by Billy Campbell, if at all possible) acts as a “ghost mentor”. She’s read all his journals, she’s done her research on the era in which he lived, and she has all her experiences with her father and grandfather. Those form a “ghost” in her mind—a representation of “What would Mom/Dad/Grandpa/Grandma/Cliff say about this?”
For a bit of meta:
- Her “person in the chair” could be called “PV” because they’re from Africa or India or Holland, and have a name that starts with P and V, but most people can’t be bothered to pronounce correctly.
- She could be a Betty Page fan
- Her girlfriend could be named Jenny (or a non-western name that sounds similar)
 Which should be named “The Pilot”—a perfect meta-pun if I ever saw one.
 Okay... so in searching for images for this post, I came across this YouTube video talking about a reboot movie which has a young African-American woman taking on the role of the Rocketeer. And, apparently, there’s some sort of animated “Disney Kids” tv show coming out next year.