JD Dillard is no longer attached to Disney’s Rocketeer sequel

JD Dillard no longer attached to lead Return of the RocketeerDisney’s attempt to breathe new life into their cult classic IP after The Rocket failed at the box office in 1991. The sequel was officially announced last yearbut Dillard has reportedly been involved with the project since 2020.

Released long before Disney acquired the rights to most Marvel characters, The Rocket was the House of Mouse’s chance to create a new superhero franchise. The film follows a young pilot (Billy Campbell) who finds a revolutionary jet pack, using the high-tech tool to fight crime. While Disney intended to develop several sequels for The Rocket in the 1990s, the film bombed cinemas, causing the company to bury intellectual property. However, over the years, The Rocketeer has become a cult classic, especially for people who see it as a prototype of what would become Iron Manthe first MCU movie.


Due to the growing fanbase of The Rocket, Disney has been trying to bring the superhero back for a while. Lyrics of a movie centered on Rocketeer on the street since 2016. However, the project didn’t gain traction until 2021 when Disney announced the team behind the sequel. The film is produced by David Oyelowo, Jessica Oyelowoand Blake Griffin and Ryan Kalilfrom Mortal Media. Now you see me writer Ed Ricourt is also in charge of the screenplay. However, with no director or production schedule, we remain cautious about Return of the Rocketeer never see the light of day.

sleight of hand jd dillard
Image via BH Tilt

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Why JD Dillard Won’t Direct ‘The Rocketeer’ Sequel

During an interview with The envelopeDillard revealed that he is no longer attached to several ongoing projects, including a star wars movie and the DCEU’s Black Superman movie. In the case of the Rocketeer, Dillard didn’t want to tackle the project because of his latest film, Dedicationa wartime biopic centered on the first black aviator Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and his winger Tom Hudner (Glenn Powell). For Dillard, it would be hard to return to the aviation theme so soon after directing a big production with a similar backdrop. In his words:

“You know, it’s tricky. I love, love, love ‘The Rocketeer’. What I have a little trouble understanding now is going back to pre-1970 aviation. You know, I’m not saying never. But I think I need a break from vintage aviation.

For the moment, Return of the Rocketeer remains in development limbo, but you can expect to read about any new development here at Collider. For now, check out our interview with Majors, Powell and Joe Jones on Dedication.

Kimberly B. Nguyen