rocketeer-icon rocketeer-icon

“The Rocketeer” Pixar Style

Always loved Commando Cody and was the biggest fan of Dave Stevens’ homage The Rocketeer. Disney made a live action film in 1991, so why couldn’t Pixar make a new one today? French animator John Banana couldn’t wait and made this “fan film” in tribute to Stevens and his creation:

  • That is pretty damned cool.

    • Max

      meh, not really

      • Meh. Wow. What an original thought. It’s fun. If I wanted to, I could go through and pick out things I’d improve, but it’s a fan film. IT reflects passion and ingenuity. He’ll go far. A lot farther than people who slag other people’s films on the internet by going “meh”.
        Where’s your brilliant film?

      • romie

        It’s Max Howard. Check out his impressive resume.

  • fremgen

    Very nice, I’d watch a full movie :)

  • thats cool

  • Eric

    Please make this into a series for DisneyXD! That will give me a reason to watch the channel. If Disney doesn’t do a sequel or reboot, this would be a great way to generate interest in it.

  • VERY impressive!

  • Clint H

    I’d TOTALLY see this as a movie! On an unrelated note, I just bought THE ROCKETERR on Dvd yesterday, and chances are I’ll watch it pretty soon.

  • Mike

    That was great! Too bad Disney, if I recall correctly, decided to put Rocketeer up against a little movie called Terminator 2: Judgement Day! Poor Billy Campbell didn’t stand a chance.

    Anyway, The Rocketeer was a great flick. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years. Hope this renews interest in Stevens’ creation. It deserves it.

  • B.Bonny

    Eric +1.

    Also liked the Arthur de Pins pinup on the wall. :)

  • mldmitry

    Very well done!

  • Peter Jackson’s a big fan of the Rocketeer. He appeared at a recent Hobbit event in a Rocketeer disguise, and Weta designed a whole bunch of Rocketeer-styled art for the Roxy Cinema near the studio. Perhaps they have something in mind?

    • Oddly enough, Kevin Smith is a big fan too. He owns one of the rocket packs used in the movie and it makes an appearance in JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK on the movie set at the end of the film.

  • Yeah! I second the series concept!

  • Looks like we have a consensus!

  • Cartoonz Critic

    Would rather see something a bit more retro/art Deco and holding to the spirit & tone of the original material of the comics and film (something like the animated NEWSREEL movie within the film), than a bastardized saccharine Pixar-ized re-dux.

    That said, this piece is well done, just too cuddly for my tastes. Having known Dave (Stevens) fairly well and how close he felt to his creation (include the time period, style & tone), I believe his feelings might also echo my own. I think in one sense he would enjoy and be flattered by the tribute, but in another be wincing at it all the same.

    • “Your hero probably would have disliked your heartfelt homage to his work. Have a nice day.”

      • The Gee

        The piece is well done. There’s no doubt about that. It is entertaining, too.

        But, if they had re-did the Superman a la the Fleischer cartoon shorts using this style would that seem slightly off, or way off, right?

        The designs that Stevens did would look pretty sharp if faithfully done in CG and I’d be curious to see how it would move. I agree with those folks who feel the movie version holds up really well. It’s a fun flick, too.

    • Meghan

      While constructive critique is always a pleasure for an artist to receive, I can’t help but feel like the “Dave Stevens wouldn’t have liked this” part was a little cruel and quite unneeded. As far as I can see this was just a fun little piece some fan made as a tribute. Who are you to say what the original artist would or wouldn’t like?

      • Cartoonz Critic

        Cruel? My own personal association with Dave aside, Dave Stevens was very protective of his work and extremely serious about researching & presenting both the time period, and elements of the tone & style there in. He was so concerned about such treatment and getting details right in the film presentation that he co-wrote the screenplay and was a hands-on co-producer involved in every aspect.

        This presentation deviates from that considerably and appears as if the rubberized CGI Garfield could occupy the same universe as this – Heck, this looks like Rocketeer Cliff Secord and Garfield’s Jon Arbuckle could be neighbors or even distant relatives. As such, this both violates both the original creator’s (Dave Stevens) vision of the Rocketeer, but also discards much of what made the Rocketeer the Rocketeer in the first place. That may be hard to hear but that is not cruel, that is just truth.

  • Watching this makes me more excited to see Joe Johnson’s “Captain America” flick! I hope it’s as good as “Rocketeer!”

  • Toonio

    Nice homage but let’s get real, nobody could have saved the Rocketeer from failure to launch.

  • The Obvious

    Fun, and, as a huge Rocketeer fan, I completely understand the sentiments of the creators of this film. Very classy putting their respect for Dave Stevens up front, and this is clearly a labor of love for the filmmakers.

    I can see where “Cartoonz Critic” is coming from as far as tone. I only met Dave Stevens once, but I imagine he would have been positive, and then bombarded you with all of these details and changes you could make to the film to make it more accurate and true to the nature of the era and “The Rocketeer.”

    I’ve never met a nicer professional who encouraged young talent in the way that Dave did. I’ll never forget meeting him and how much time he took talking to me. I have nothing but love for anyone who has so much affection for Dave Stevens’ work that they would put in the time and effort that you all have. Just take the emphasis off of the feet and put it into the flares on the sides of the baggy aviator pants. ;)

    Nice work guys! Now if we could only get a blu-ray of the film out of Disney.

  • I would watch a whole series like this.

    Essentially, this is what Cars 2 could have been.

  • Max

    I’m a huge Rocketeer fan … this isn’t living up to snuff. The rocketeer is missing his grit, timeliness, and the “fun” feels overdone. Noble try, solid rendering, but there are quite a few stylistic elements, story and typographic glitches that should be tweaked before a full on pitch.

  • Billy Batz

    If he is such a fan of Dave Stevens, why is this short lifted from the Disney movie interpretation and not Dave Steven’s great comic stories?

  • I am now officially not impressed by 3D craftsmanship.

  • FleischerFan

    Whatta bunch of grouches!

    I enjoyed this homage tremendously as I also enjoyed the Disney film.

    Dave Stevens was involved in the Disney film extensively – even down to creating the Rocketeer’s helmet himself – and much of his original comic book work on the character was hugely informed by his love of movies.

    The Disney film was sabotaged by its initial release date and the overhype of the Disney marketing machine. My understanding is that it has become a perennial seller in the home video market – and so, like many other films that flopped at the box office initially (inc. “Blade Runner,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Tron,” and many more) – it has finally found its audience.

    I would love to see either an animated feature or a TV series if it could be done with the care and love that went into this homage.

    • Also, the movie was supposed to have a Roger Rabbit but Spielberg and Disney were arguing over the proposed storyline for that summer’s short so it never happened. A Roger short would definitely helped bring in audiences.

  • Steve G

    This was cute and I suspect Dave would’ve liked it and been flattered.
    Dave was a perfectionist with his own work, but I can’t recall him ever saying anything negative to another artist about their work.
    The only time I can recall seeing Dave upset in regards to someone using his art was when he found someone had bootlegged one of his drawings onto a T-Shirt or something. Even that was pretty mild…

    That’s not to say that I disagree with Cartoonz Critic’s critique (except for what he thinks Dave would have or would not have felt), but I’m not as nice as Dave was.

  • Scott B.

    I agree with FleischerFan. This is a terrific homage. If this had been done by Disney-Pixar, blast away, but as a fan effort, it’s top-drawer and very respectful. Hats off to John Banana and crew.

  • Cartoonz Critic

    To reiterate, I commend the technical work done here. It’s obvious a heartfelt tribute by fans.

    However, with regards to overall styling and tone it does miss the mark and this homogenization clearly overlooks a vital essence of what the Rocketeer is, (and what Dave intended it to be) turning a 40’s period piece adventure serialization into a sugar coated, fisher-price commercial for toddlers.

    • Welcome to the department of redundancy dept.

  • Hey Guyz

    thanks Jerry for the post, and thanks a lot for the comments…

    I’m very happy, that the video is spreading like this…as we put heart in it…and it was a side project done for fun mainly…

    I read carefully all, and will explain quickly what was in my mind when we did this…

    I like negative comments, especially when they are constructive…and it’s fun to see that some of them are exactly about decisions I took, as where I wanted to bring this… so I don’t think they are rude… Sure some artist would do something very different…

    First know I sent to Dave the 1st version of my cartoony Rocketeer, I don’t remember when exactly, 2004-2005, maybe 2003…something like that…telling him about this little fake teaser I had in mind… The design was close…more exagerated…

    We started a few things (little animation tests etc)… then nothing more…

    I decided when my dad died from disease around the same time Dave died, that I should stop wondering if I should do it, and we just did this…on my personnal funds…and completed in 2009 ! it was an hommage to Dave before being a 20th anniversary animation…we decided to release it now as the celebration was a good timing…

    The idea was not to redo the same…sure some crazy artist could do a Pink Rocketeer Flying on Elephants, or a future Rocketeer of year 3025…a tribute…not a remake….

    So what I had in mind was, because it’s my job mainly, what if I had to do a Rocketeer for Kids from 6 to 12, to show them what a great character this was…that would be on TV every week…. how would this be ?! As some people said : Disney XD show… exactly… and that I would like to watch just for entertainment…

    I discovered Rocketeer with the Disney movie, then later the comics…(I think I have all editions from the original to the latest)… I know Dave worked closely on the movie…so mixing both worlds seems cool for me…especially as I just prefer the Disney Rocket for example…

    I also carefully removed Betty Page, thinking that I wouldn’t want my kids to watch a cartoon with a star of bondage and that channel wouldnt greenlight a huge boobs heroin :)) I also removed the Nazis thinking he would deal with a bunch of recuring criminals for the same reasons… and thirties criminals are the best looking ones :)) one of them being Lothar as I love a lot the character….even if in the movie he’s a very different guy from the comic…
    This would be set maybe after the event of the movie…or maybe a total new reboot, but around the same era….

    you have to know that Disney owns the screen property, and to show them something with naked girls, nazis…don’t think they would say : that’s a perfect kid’s show… let’s make it…

    Anyway this was done as an hommage to Dave and his flying creation before anything else…
    Then all the what if this was a TV show came later…

    About the timeframe, I’m not sure what you mean…we decided to do this around the late thirties…and we carefully check what was the look of barns, of cars, we decided to do a mix of Ford 1937-1940 as they are such cool cars and match the era…of course with an animated style…

    About the style…well, that’s the style we try to do…very pixarian I agree… because we love this…Disney/Pixar/animated call it what you want… if people compare this to what those artists do, then I’m more than happy :)

    Of course with a budget, we could do something much detailed… I paid all this from my pocket, and the idea was to match and find techniques that would work on a TV series show…translation = good quality for small budget… as I didn’t want neither to ruin me on it…

    So to conclude…I’m sure it would be possible with a good creative team… as for now, I’m just happy we did it… if it stays as this hommage / teaser, that’s good for me :)

    cheers to all

  • dbenson

    If this guy did more Rocketeer, I’d be interested.

    If he did something closer to his own considerable talent, I’d stand in line for it.

  • erin

    did i see an Arthur De Pins Easter egg?

    • yes you did…
      he’s a good friend… ^^

  • Darth Vader

    Please don’t give Disney any ideas

    • John A

      I agree–I’d hate to see them bastardize Dave Steven’s creation a second time.

      a quick explanation of the above statement: I realise Dave was involved in the first film and that he agreed to the changes Disney insisted on in order to get the film made. (they even cheated him out of the merchandizing rights)

      • Sardonic Tuba

        “I agree–I’d hate to see them bastardize Dave Steven’s creation a second time.”

        By all means, let’s let it gather dust as a dimly remembered museum piece instead.

      • John A

        I don’t understand your comment. Dave’s work lives in print forever, just like the works of other great comic book artists, it doesn’t need to be “re-imagined” for anyone.

      • Your purism is pedantic and boring.

        Yes, the ROCKETEER is in print and will live forever for the limited audience that re-discovers it and decides to make the effort to hunt it down. All 8 of them.

        The notion that re-envisioning, re-introducing, re-producing, re-whatevering somehow destroys the original is laughable. The ROCKETEER is not the virginal girl next door.

        Are you suggesting that Imagi “ruined” ASTROBOY to the point where we should just toss all of Tezuka’s comics?


        Some guy makes a fan film, produces production quality work, makes an effort to meld ROCKETEER and UP on some level, and the internet critics have the nerve to dump on it?

        What’s wrong with you people?

        So what if it’s sillier. Or the sound design is off. It’s a valid effort.

        Go make something better, hotshot.

  • Scott B.

    John, thanks for posting on this thread. It’s clear that a LOT of time and thought went into the product. As I said above, I totally appreciate your homage. It’s great that you were able to contact Dave Stevens with your idea before his untimely death.

    And as someone who is slowly working on an homage animation (to a different property that means a lot to me), I can tell you that you’ve inspired me to carve more time out of my life to work on it and get it done. Thank you for that.

  • Mike

    I just read on that Joe Johnston says he wants to make a sequel to The Rocketeer, so maybe we’re closer to seeing the old “hood ornament” back on the big screen than previously thought.

    Here’s hoping….

  • Funkybat

    I can see where people are coming from when it comes to “purist” arguments, as well as those who don’t see the harm in a devoted fan taking The Rocketeer in a more “kiddie” direction. I’ll just say that I’d rather see well-animated fan films like this, that were done with attention to detail and clear-cut, if controversial artistic choices, than I would the litany of low-grade garbage that’s “generated” each day using tools like XtraNormal and GoAnimate.

    Even if I were a big “Rocketeer” geek and found this somehow off-putting, I would at least applaud the real artistry that went into it, which is what we want to see more of. Consider the alternative, more sub-Family Guy-level “animation” done by people with little artistic ability. I know which I’d prefer to see at the top of YouTube’s “Most Viewed” results…

  • I was fairly close with Dave (we worked together on a number of projects) and I know he would have dug this. Dave was a huge fan of the Max Fleisher SUPERMAN cartoons and I think that this has a similar vibe, if not style. Anyway, I certainly dig it!

  • BBL

    Some excellent comments here and, IMO, Mr. Banana ennobles himself with his thoughtful response. However, I also think we should remember that Stevens’ Rocketeer owes a huge debt to the Republic serial “King of the Rocket Men”.

  • Bob

    I LOVE The Rocketeer, and have written about it extensively over the years. When I saw this short, I cheered!

  • Hey guyz if you want to see or read a little bit more

    I invite you to have a look here :

    cheers to all, lovers, haters… ^^

    please, just don’t fight, there are more important causes to fight for :)

    • MarieMJS

      Hello there Mr John, long time no talk :)

      Great job, and great hommage, there will always be critics and a bit of snobism, but at the end of the day, it was a fun little project to celebrate an equally fun concept, so cheers, well done mate :)

  • J_Kandefer

    Beautiful…animation is supposed to be fun! But what a plus when an animation is fun, artistic with a great concept. this has all of that! There is so much controversy in the adult side of the animation world…If only we could be more like the kids and just enjoy everyone’s effort without being too harsh…

    You seem like a great level-headed, talented guy John…keep up the great work!

  • Blah

    Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be.

    Rocketeer packaged up for Disney Jr & marketed to the preschool crowd – FML.

  • billburgnyc

    While watching “UP” in the theater, during the climactic zeppelin battle, I actually found my thoughts turning to the Rocketeer. I thought it might be fun for Disney or Pixar to make a straight-up action film, without the constraints of “family film” sentiment (the opening scenes of “Bolt” prompted similar thoughts). I wondered about the possibility of an animated reboot of Dave Stevens’ creation. This trailer is like the realization of those idle musings.

    I was a huge fan of Dave’s work, and I hope all the attention this trailer is receiving also gets someone at Disney thinking. John Banana, thanks for sharing your work and your thoughts about making it.