Commando Cody in Radar Men from the Moon
|Created by||Republic Pictures|
Commando Cody is the hero in two 12-episode science fiction serials made by Republic Pictures, played by George Wallace in 1952's Radar Men from the Moon  and Judd Holdren in 1953's Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.
Zombies of the Stratosphere
Another 12-chapter Rocket Man movie serial, Zombies of the Stratosphere, was written as the direct sequel to Radar Men from the Moon. But the name of the serial's main character was changed from Commando Cody to the more prosaic "Larry Martin" at the start of shooting. This lead character renaming happened after footage shot for the first three episodes of Republic's proposed science fiction syndicated television series, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe, which was later released (for union contractual reasons) to theaters also instead of TV. Republic, meanwhile, released both of these serials during 1953.
Because of its original television production origins, the longer length of the weekly serial chapters, and their lack of traditional cliffhanger endings, many entrenched serial fans refuse to acknowledge the theatrical release of Sky Marshall as a true movie serial—this despite its having been released to theaters weekly and having a detailed plot that progresses through a dozen clearly numbered and titled chapters until the villain is finally defeated in the last chapter. Sky Marshall was finally syndicated to NBC television in 1955 as a dozen 24+ minute episodes (before commercials).
Confusion with other serials
Commando Cody serials are sometimes confused with King of the Rocket Men (1949), because the rocket-powered flying suit and helmet costume worn by the title character, Jeff King, was recycled to become the flying suit worn by Cody. To add to the confusion, serial hero "Larry Martin", who started out to be Commando Cody, wore the same costume again in Zombies of the Stratosphere.
Referring to these different Republic characters wearing the same costume collectively as "The Rocket Man" was a concept formulated decades later on film by Walt Disney Productions in their 1991 feature film, The Rocketeer, based on a comic book series by Dave Stevens, which was in turn a nod to the various Republic "rocket-suited" serial characters. Some have noted, also, that the original "King of the Rocket Men" wardrobe design appears to have been "lifted" by Republic from a preliminary flying suit design for the 1940s Fawcett Publications' comic book character Bulletman, whose adventures the studio had once considered adapting as a serial.
The odd choice of character name "Commando Cody" was possibly an attempt to make children think they were going to see the adventures of Commander Corry, the hero of the ABC TV and radio series Space Patrol (1950–1955). The equally odd Cody title Sky Marshal of the Universe for the character's final incarnation seems likely to be the studio's imitation of Corry's title, "Commander-in-Chief of the Space Patrol", proclaimed at the beginning of every Space Patrol radio and television broadcast. There is, however, no surviving evidence today of either being the case.
References in other media
- During the Clone Wars (Star Wars), a clone trooper named Commander Cody serves under Jedi general, Obi-Wan Kenobi. This character—complete with rocket backpack—was named after Commando Cody: a homage by Star Wars creator George Lucas to the serials of his youth.
- The Star Trek: Voyager holodeck story The Adventures of Captain Proton features numerous references to Commando Cody and other Republic serials, including the costume worn by the Captain, which was created from replica components of Cody's costume such as his jacket, rocket pack and chest control panel, and a killer robot that was an almost perfect replica of one used in the original Commando Cody serial.
- Radar Men from the Moon was lampooned in the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. The first eight episodes were featured as shorts in several episodes of the first season (only half of the ninth installment was shown, with the in-show excuse being "the film broke").
- The recurring Almost Live! sketch, "Jet Guy", is a parody of Commando Cody.
- As a teen, before beginning his professional film career, Bob Gale created a series of parody films of Commando Cody, featuring a character named "Commando Cus".
- Digital/ambient music artists Carbon Based Lifeforms sampled from the first Commando Cody episode in their track "Proton/Electron", using Henderson's lines "It's the same guess that we've made, because it's the only possible answer" and "atomic activity on the moon, atomic blast on the earth."
- The NBC David Letterman show (Late Night With David Letterman) featured a series of satirical commercials for the jetpack-wearing 'The Regulator Guy' which starred Chris Elliot.
- Clayton Moore, (1998). I Was That Masked Man. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 132. ISBN 0878332162.
- Weaver, Tom (2009). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland. pp. 254–255, 278–282. ISBN 078648215X.
- Glassy, Mark C. (2012). Movie Monsters in Scale: A Modeler's Gallery of Science Fiction and Horror Figures and Dioramas. Commando Cody (1952): McFarland. pp. 223–226. ISBN 078646884X.
- Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "11. New Masks for New Heroes "Get That Masked Trouble Maker"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 288–290. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
- Cline, William C. (1984). "5. A Cheer for the Champions (The Heroes and Heroines)". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 75. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
- Weldon, Michael (1996). The Psychotronic Video Guide To Film. Macmillan. pp. 116, 621, 635, 636. ISBN 0312131496.
- Roman, James W. (2005). From Daytime to Primetime: The History of American Television Programs. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 144. ISBN 0313319723.
- Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "5. Shazam and Good-by". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5.
- Star Wars: Clone Wars volume II DVD commentary
- Commando Cody TV series
- Commando Cody serials
- Summary of Casts and Credits for the Republic "Rocketman" Films
- Another very detailed list of casts and credits for the "Rocketman" films
- Radar Men from the Moon at the Internet Movie Database
- Zombies of the Stratosphere at the Internet Movie Database
- King of the Rocket Men at the Internet Movie Database
- Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe at the Internet Movie Database
- Nostalgia League article on the "Rocketman" serials
- Gary Johnson, "The Serials"
- A Detailed page on all three "Rocketmen"