With Loki ushering in the multiverse, nothing is impossible for the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore and it has already begun to prove the same with the recent premiere of the first episode of the animated series, What If…? While MCU fans were sufficiently blown away by the twist of Captain Britain and the Hydra Stomper, director Bryan Andrews had an even more mind-boggling set-up in mind which included a non-Marvel superhero- The Rocketeer.
In a recent chat with Vanity Fair, Andrews, who has been a storyboard artist on all the Avengers films as well as Doctor Strange, shared that when he sat down to formulate his ideas for What If…?, his initial pitch to Kevin Feige was something “vintage and pulpy.” Thus, his original plan was to have three heroes fighting all the Nazis together. One would have been good-ol’ Captain America with his super-soldier serum, along with Peggy Carter kicking ass sans the serum, and The Rocketeer.
As many know, The Rocketeer is another fictional American superhero who first appeared in comic books in 1982 published by the Pacific Comics and was created by Dave Stevens. In fact, the character has already appeared in the Disney-produced film, The Rocketeer in 1991 and had Bill Campbell playing the titular character. The Rocketeer is in fact a stunt pilot, Cliff Secord, who comes across a rocket-powered jet pack that was being stolen from the business magnate, Howard Hughes. Circumstances push him to use the jet pack, although while hiding his identity, to save people who hail him as their hero. All the while, even as he is busy saving lives, he also has to dodge Hughes, the FBI, and a dangerous Nazi operative who are all after the jet pack.
While The Rocketeer ended up being a commercial disappointment, its superhero became a cult favorite with his fans still waiting for his return to the silver screen. But despite the fact that the film was released by Disney, there were many issues that made the superhero’s inclusion in the MCU a difficult feat and thus, when Andrews showed Feige his drawings, the Marvel boss was quick to shoot it down. Apart from the fact that this Cap-Peggy-Rocketeer scenario is not much different from what Captain America: The First Avengers had been about, there was also the issue of copyright as The Rocketeer is not a Marvel character and hence, can’t be simply added to an MCU show without triggering some legal drama down the line.
Another reason for not adding The Rocketeer to the What If…? roster was the fact that MCU Howard Stark is almost similar to Howard Hughes, who plays a significant role in Cliff Secord’s life. While Andrews is aware that the existence of the multiverse in the MCU essentially puts an end to any problems arising from such similar parallels, he instead decided to settle for an equally enticing plot of Peggy Carter getting the serum in place of Steve Rogers who still ended up becoming a hero and took on the moniker of Hydra Stomper.
As for The Rocketeer’s future in the MCU, while the above-mentioned issues more or less nullify any chances of his future inclusion, fans have learned that when it comes to Marvel nothing is ever impossible.