[The illustration created by Jason Welborn]
I am excited for Captain America. Not AS excited as I was for XMen First Class, but certainly more excited than I was for Thor. I'm excited to see Cap in his native 1940s. I'm excited to see the Howling Commandos (I'm a huge fan of WWII "Team" movies) and I'm excited that Director Joe Johnston is going back to his roots.
A lot of people don't know this but Johnston worked on the original Raiders of the Lost Ark as a storyboard artist before directing Honey I Shrunk the Kids and moving on to direct the film he would probably be best known for-The Rocketeer.
Johnston is not an auteur, he is a hired gun who has directed several films, none of which you could point to and sum up his work. However his name always gets attached to The Rocketeer. Peppered throughout the 1990s (After Tim Burton's Batman) studios wanted to cash in on the Bat-wave, by doing their own comic book movies. Oddly enough most of them had strong roots in pulp fiction or sunday funnies. We got Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy (a wonderful experiment still enjoyable today), The Shadow (A great deal of fun, perfect for a remake), The Phantom (Entertaining trash) and The Rocketeer (Brilliant boyhood action and nostalgia). It was interesting to see pulp inspired heroes in the theaters, most of which started in our grandparent's day. It was hoped (at least with The Rocketeer and The Shadow) that a series would continue, unfortunately all of these films fell flat with audiences and none were granted continuations (well unless you count the Mask of Zorro)
Even among the rest of these films, somehow The Rocketeer still holds a special place in people's hearts. Based off of the much adored Dave Stevens comic book released in 1982, the film borrows the best from Indiana Jones, James Bond, the golden age of Hollywood and The Right Stuff. It gives us a classic adventure story with everything we could possible ask for: gangsters, nazis, zeppelins, a musical number and Jennifer Connelly looking gorgeous. The Rocketeer's design gives a look at a time gone by, a time we wish had actually existed (but never did). The movie isn't perfect, but it's a solid adventure film with a great cast and wonderful design. It's a shame they didn't get a chance to do a follow up, they may have been able to realize the character's full potential.
My adoration for this movie is evident, I still enjoy both the film and the comic book to this day. However, this film is pertinent in that it obviously reflects Joe Johnston's love of this time period. His involvement in the Captain America film seems like an excellent choice. I can only hope he brings the same kind of wonder, style and excitement to Captain America that he brought to The Rocketeer.
Below is a fan made animation created for The Rocketeer's 20th anniversary. It's simple, and doesn't include a lot of the objectionable content of the movie or comics, but is fun and I have to admit it's cool to see the character in action again. Check it out. Also, a cool retro poster for the Captain America film created by Paulo Rivera and given to the cast and crew of the film.