Disney is considering a full Sky High series—but can it work in the current media landscape?

Rumors have emerged that Sky High might finally be getting its sequel. But is this the right time for more of this universe, and if so, how should they do it?
Premiere of "Sky High" - Arrivals
Premiere of "Sky High" - Arrivals / Kevin Winter/GettyImages

Sky High fans rejoice, as it seems that the long-awaited sequel might finally be coming, twenty years after the original film!

For those who don't remember, Sky High was a Disney film from 2005 that followed a group of superpowered teenagers navigating superhero high school. The main character, Will, was the son of the world's most famous superhero duo, but he didn't develop any powers before starting school. This lands him in "hero support," the division of the school that trained (and demeaned) future sidekicks. Alongside his close friends, he tries to figure out his place in the school, fight off bullies, and even stop one of his parents' greatest enemies.

Although the movie didn't get nearly the same kind of recognition that The Incredibles did, it has had a consistent fan base ever since its release. Seen as a cult classic for long-time superhero fans, Sky High captured the best of parody and superhero comedy, as well as pulling together a cast full of action movie legends.

According to new information from The DisInsider, those characters might be about to come back for the first time.

"I actually think a Sky High series is being discussed for Disney+. The Boys has been a massive success for Amazon and Disney could look at that and make Sky High a MUCH MORE kid-friendly version of that and build off the hype of non-Marvel/DCU heroes. Not to mention, the cast and crew have all said they would return."

Skyler Shuler

While that's an exciting update for any fan of the movie, there's a long history of cult classic revivals failing miserably. Here, we'll discuss a few key points, such as whether Sky High should continue, whether it can survive the current media landscape, and how it might use the established IP in a new movie or series.

Sky High was originally planned as a franchise

Before we can properly explore how the Sky High IP might be repurposed in the future, it's important to explore where it came from. Paul Hernandez originally pitched the idea for Sky High in the 1990s, but it didn't come to fruition until the creators of Kim Possible, Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle, were brought in to revitalize the script.

In 2016, director Mike Mitchell announced that a sequel to Sky High was in the works. While that never made it past the planning stages, it has been discussed several times since. Mitchell explained in 2019 that the sequel would have been called Save U, focusing on the heroes as they navigate college.

In addition to a sequel film, every actor except for Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston was signed on for a Sky High television series. Thanks to lackluster interest when it first debuted, that plan never went forward. However, Mitchell has repeatedly shared that he would be thrilled to return to that world.

That opportunity might finally be here. Mike Mitchell spoke with ComicBook.com about reviving the series, and it has a surprising champion. Apparently, Disney is open to approaching the superhero genre from a different direction than the MCU, but so is Kevin Feige, who has been a fan of Sky High since the beginning.

All of this to say, a Sky High franchise has been in the works since before the original film was released. With how frequently Mitchell has discussed it over the years, he clearly has some ideas and a lot of passion behind them. That is heartening, as true fans who have been dreaming about a revival for years tend to succeed where reboots for reboot-sakes fail.

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Can Sky High break through the time of "superhero fatigue"?

I think there's plenty of evidence that, with the enthusiasm of the cast and crew of the original, a continuation of the Sky High franchise could go really well. However, it's a much more over-saturated market to try to enter right now than it was in the early '00s. Even the MCU is finding it hard to thrive, so what chance does an underperforming property from 2005 have?

Everybody who is tapped into the comic book world has heard the term "superhero fatigue" thrown around a lot, arguing that people are just tired of stories about super-powered men and women, fighting for justice against often bland villains with similar powersets. But I would argue that Sky High has a fair shot at breaking out of that trap.

For one thing, Sky High didn't use most of the tropes that are annoyingly common today. The villain had a completely different power than any of the heroes, and though the method of winning was fairly cliche, there were no sky beams in sight. This is because, in many ways, Sky High was a John Hughes-esque teen comedy first, and a superhero movie second.

On top of that, Sky High was just plain weird. I say that in a good way, but let's not forget that the villain's great plan was to turn all the heroes into babies and raise them at a supervillain school. One of the main characters is instructed to change the diaper of his mad scientist-turned-baby teacher. Others have powers such as faintly glowing in dark rooms and shape-shifting into guinea pigs.

The Incredibles was a great movie, but it was basically a Fantastic Four story told for children. Sky High is something else. And if it can keep that energy, it has a good chance of thriving. Love it or hate it, DC's Legends of Tomorrow stood out in the Arrowverse by consistently choosing the weirdest possible solutions. That's the kind of energy a Sky High sequel should be channeling!

In the last year or so, there has been a new stance on superhero fatigue. Largely speaking, it argues that people are not tired of superheroes. They are tired of repetitive stories that prioritize "new content" over actual quality. This is precisely why some Marvel movies are so beloved and some aren't.

As Owen Gleiberman from Variety put it, the ubiquity of superhero movies may fail, but "Good comic-book movies, though they don’t happen every day, will still bring out audiences and excite them." In other words, a movie isn't doomed by having superheroes in it. It just has to actually have a good story, quality cinematography, and relatable characters. Is that so much to ask?

"That’s what everyone is tired of: when a comic-book movie looks and feels like every other damn comic-book movie."

Owen Gleiberman

So can Sky High survive, or even thrive, in the era of superhero fatigue? Of course, it can. But only if they commit to doing it the right way.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved. /

How Sky High could be reworked for the 2020s

If we accept the idea of Sky High being continued, however, there are a lot of questions regarding the best way to do that. Years ago, Mike Mitchell explained that Sky High should only be revived if the full cast was involved: "The only way you can do it is if you bring back all [the actors]. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has to be in it. Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell has to come back.”

However, a lot of time has gone by since then. All of the original ideas would have to be scrapped, so where could they go instead? Screen Rant suggested that a new movie or series could focus on the original heroes' children or an entirely separate group of powered teenagers attending either Sky High or Save University.

Either of these ideas could work, as they rely on common reboot/revival strategies. But Sky High was known for being ahead of its time, debuting three years before the MCU, so should it really be following the cliched paths to revive a beloved franchise?

Frankly, I would rather it didn't. If this is just a money grab, the fans will know. Mitchell explained that Sky High became a cult classic because fans "could tell that we loved comic books, and we’re just having fun in that world." That attitude is necessary for any future projects, or they just won't work.

Mike Mitchell
HFPA And InStyle's Annual Miss Golden Globes Party / Todd Williamson/GettyImages

What have the creators said a sequel might feature?

Over the years, there have been multiple discussions of the sequel, including cast members saying that they were interested in returning. However, the most specific information in recent years still comes from director Mike Mitchell. In May 2024, Mitchell said that, in his mind, the next film would be set when "the kids are now grown up and they're all university teachers at a place called Save U."

This bounces off of the original idea, with the opportunity to showcase a new young cast alongside returning favorites. This would be relatively similar to Girl Meets World, where Cory became the teacher of his own and Minkus's children. However, the teachers in the original film were relatively useless, so this idea would have to either dumb down the original heroes or approach the story with a new perspective.

According to Mitchell in the DVD extras, the core principles of Sky High were that "the adults are all insane" and "the girls are smarter than the boys." That worked really well in creating an engaging story, but few fans want to see all of their favorite characters become as crazy as their parents. Likewise, if they reject that premise moving forward, it can feel like the characters exist in a completely different universe.

While it has become customary to see grown-up superheroes become teachers, similar to the new mentor roles Hawkeye and Thor have taken on in the MCU, this could also come across as a bad X-Men knock-off, which is not a great path to pursue. There will need to be major worldbuilding or tonal distinctions to keep Save U from feeling awkward or derivative.

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Should Sky High become a part of Marvel or DC?

According to director Mike Mitchell, the path to a new installment of Sky High might be through the MCU. Apparently, Kevin Feige might be interested in taking it on. Now that Disney owns Marvel, there could be an opportunity to integrate the two franchises.

"I know that Kevin Feig or Kevin Feige is a huge Sky High fan. Right when it came out, he met with me and we talked about it. His whole team loved it because it was the first superhero comedy that was having fun with the genre. But, at the same time honoring it.

Only Marvel can do superhero films. To which, I say, 'Great! Let's have Marvel do Sky High!"

Mike Mitchell, Comic book.com

But how would that work? Mitchell also directed LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, so he has experience blending parody with DC, but does Will Stronghold make sense as a part of Marvel? The ubiquity of superheroes in that world works well, but it would be incredibly difficult for the Commander and Jetstream to be the most famous heroes in the world with the Avengers around.

The same is true with DC, but that might provide a clearer path forward. The original had a wonderful moment where Lynda Carter said, "I'm not Wonder Woman, you know," which was a fun reference that suggested that DC exists within the Sky High universe, just like the Halloween franchise exists within the Scream movies.

There's even more connections to DC with Sky High now because Danielle Panabaker took on the role of Caitlin Snow in The Flash and Mary Elizabeth Winstead played Helena Bertinelli in Birds of Prey. While the instinct there might also be to integrate the two worlds, having Will meet the Huntress and quip that she looks like his ex-girlfriend, it's best to keep the references light, for fans to catch if they understand them.

For example, if the love triangle between Will, Layla, and Warren reemerges, a passing comment that Layla could've had ice powers (since Warren ended up dating a girl with freeze powers) wouldn't be amiss. Even without the cast connections, jokes could be made about Warren hating Marvel movies, or people thinking one of the heroes is cosplaying someone from the MCU.

But trying to throw the world and characters of Sky High into one of the major comic universes is unlikely to work. There is a good deal of worldbuilding in the original movie, and forcing it to fit DC or Marvel would probably ruin a lot of that. I'm all for Kevin Feige greasing the wheels, but please don't throw these characters into the Marvel multiverse.

This is Us - Season 5
THIS IS US -- "One Small Step" Episode 511 -- Pictured in this screen grab: Michael Angarano as Nicky -- (Photo by: NBC) /

Follow the main characters as adults

One of the biggest problems with adapting a beloved kids' story 20 years later is that the audience is going to be complicated to navigate. Do they want teenagers to watch, or are they looking for the adults who loved the film when they were young? Many revivals have struggled to overcome that problem because they can't balance both.

I would argue that the correct way to handle Sky High is by taking a similar route to the iCarly revival. The people who want to watch are most likely the people who watched it originally, so appeal to them. Instead of having the teens be supremely competent compared to their parents, show how kids who saved the world in their freshman year might struggle as adults.

Will Stronghold had a difficult time trying to live up to his parents' reputations, so have him grapple with being the nepo baby of the superhero world. Warren Peace was caught between his hero mother and villain father, so use him as a way to explore complex morality, where sometimes the 'criminals' are just trying to feed their families, while the politicians are actively hurting the people.

Layla is perhaps the best opportunity to explore this since she was both a pacifist and an activist in the original. Play with how those two ideas can be contradictory. Royal Pain was an interesting villain because she was a product of Sky High's systemic bigotry; show Layla facing the same situation. If they stick with the characters as Save U teachers, she could form close bonds with students that the system deems useless or teach them lessons that oppose the official narrative. She could even be a secret supervillain, tying back to her Poison Ivy counterpart.

Sky High can still be family-friendly content but don't ignore the original fans in the process. These are the people who loved superheroes before they were one of the dominant genres in the media landscape, so address them where they are. Continue to parody the genre with the last 20 years of content overload in mind.

The Dark Knight
Photo: The Dark Knight.. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. / DC Universe /

Don't go gritty

I enjoyed The Dark Knight as much as anybody, but let's be honest about how much damage it did to the superhero genre. For whatever reason, studios decided that the success of that film meant that all superhero content needed to be dark and 'realistic,' which ignores the fans who just want an entertaining story.

DC has consistently failed when it forces upbeat, positive characters to become edgy and depressed, yet they (and other studios) still think it's the right way to go because it occasionally works. Of course, they ignore that its successes are generally because the tone fits the character and story, not because "gritty" superheroes are the only kind of value.

Sky High has never been dark and gritty, and it would be far too jarring if it were to suddenly become that. It's one of the most colorful live-action superhero films out there! So this is my desperate plea to the studios to ignore that particular subgenre.

When the Arrowverse, which called Supergirl the Paragon of Hope and the Flash the Paragon of Love, contorted both characters into serious figures trying to grapple with bigotry and death, it didn't work. Those ended up being some of the least enjoyed seasons because that's not why people enjoy either of those characters.

Yes, some of the most successful superhero stories in the era of "superhero fatigue" are dark. The Boys is an obvious example, as is Harley Quinn. But let's not forget that, in addition to featuring plenty of cussing and gore, Harley Quinn introduced the Cobb Squad and an entire episode of Harley contemplating murder due to the embarrassment of Robin being her archenemy.

It's not successful because it's dark and gritty. It's successful because it's willing to commit to its plot points, no matter how bizarre. Sky High doesn't need to change itself to fit into executives' ideas of how to make a superhero story. If anything, it will succeed because it is so different.

I've talked about a lot of different things here, but the gist of it is this: I'm excited. As someone who can recite every line of Sky High, I will watch whatever they put out. But I think that Disney needs to take an honest look at why so many people love this movie and why so many people are tired of other superhero fare.

My argument would be that weird is best, but perhaps the better explanation is just that people are looking for sincerity. Don't follow a formula and don't feel the need to 'top' the MCU. Those kinds of goals never work out well. Just focus on a fun movie that feels like a love letter to superhero fans, and there's a good chance this will be a success.

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