The exciting thing about Marvel’s new animated anthology series What If…? is that nothing is off the table. Thanks to its multiversal scope and anthological nature, the show can bring all kinds of unexpected left-field ideas to life. Black Panther becoming Star-Lord, for example.
However, there were some pitches that still didn’t get the greenlight. It turns out we could’ve had a Rocketeer crossover in the series, but Marvel boss Kevin Feige nixed the notion.
The Rocketeer is a pulp-throwback comic book character, created by Dave Stevens, who’s most famous for the 1991 live-action movie starring Billy Campbell as jetpack-wearing hero Cliff Secord. It turns out that director Bryan Andrews wanted to bring the Rocketeer back to our screens for a team-up with Captain America and Peggy Carter, but unfortunately the concept wasn’t allowed to go ahead. As Andrews explained to Vanity Fair:
“It was also in the vein of doing something vintage and pulpy, because I love that. There were three heroes back-to-back, and they’re fighting, like, all the Nazis. It’s Cap with the super-serum, as we know him, Peggy Carter, just being her normal badass self because she doesn’t need the serum—and the Rocketeer. Kevin was just like, ‘Uh, yeah, no, no, we’re not gonna do that. But I like the drawing!’”
Disney actually holds the rights to the Rocketeer and has been attempting to get a reboot off the ground for years. A little-seen Disney Junior animated series, following Cliff’s young granddaughter, aired in 2019 but was cancelled after one season. Last summer brought the news that a new movie was back on, with J.D. Dillard hired to direct. You could say, then, that a What If…? crossover would’ve been a smart move by the studio to boost the character’s familiarity with audiences.
So if it was logistically feasible and arguably beneficial for Disney, why did Feige veto the idea? Well, the Marvel president likely felt that What If…? should remain within the MCU playground. Which is fair enough, as it’s plenty big enough to keep the series going for years. And that may be the plan, as a second season is already in development. Don’t miss episode 2 when it drops on Disney Plus this Wednesday. Rocketeer fans, meanwhile, will just have to wait a while longer for some good news.