9) The Rocketeer (1991)
Superman and Captain America might be the most popular crusaders associated with American heroism, but The Rocketeer deserves some love as well – and so does his sole cinematic adaptation at the time of writing. Directed by Joe Johnson (who would go on to direct Captain America: The First Avenger 20 years later), The Rocketeer is the product of a period where superhero movies were still in their modern infancy, and it still holds up today as a charming, thrilling gem.
An ode to the pulp comic strips of the 1930s, The Rocketeer titles are throwbacks which aim to capture the feel of a bygone era, and the film adaptation is no different. Taking place in 1938 Los Angeles, it sees our titular jet-packed hero go up against mobsters and Nazi spies and recreate that feel of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Nowadays, mainstream comic book movies are becoming edgier, and while a sprinkling of darkness and misery is a good thing to overcome boring old cookie cutter, we do need lighter alternatives from time to time. The Rocketeer is a perfect movie for when you’re in need of some innocent, wholesome entertainment. It has adventure, espionage and glamour, and if that doesn’t make you feel whimsical, then I don’t know what will.
Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by Terminator 2: Judgement Day upon its release and didn’t achieve the success it deserved. It’s highly likely we’ll see Cliff Secord back on our screens soon, however, with Walt Disney Studios reported to be developing a reboot.