Sky High (2005 film)

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Sky High
Sky High movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Mitchell
Produced byAndrew Gunn
Written by
Music byMichael Giacchino
CinematographyShelly Johnson
Edited byPeter Amundson
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • July 29, 2005 (2005-07-29)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million[2]
Box office$86.4 million[3]

Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film directed by Mike Mitchell and written by Paul Hernandez and Kim Possible creators Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The film stars Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kelly Preston and Kurt Russell. It tells the story about the son of two superheroes who is enrolled in an airborne high school for teenage superheroes where his powers kick in.


Will Stronghold begins ninth grade at Sky High, a high school that exclusively teaches teenagers with superpowers. Will's parents are The Commander and Jetstream, two of the world's most famous superheroes. Will's best friend, Layla Williams, who is in love with him, has the power to manipulate plant life. Will is anxious about attending Sky High, located on a floating campus reached by a flying school bus, because, unbeknownst to his parents, he has not developed any super powers.

On the first day, he and the other ninth graders are harassed by a trio of bullies: Speed, a senior with super speed, Lash, another senior that can stretch his body, and Penny, a senior cheerleader who can multiply herself. Because of his lack of powers, Will is assigned to a curriculum for "Hero Support" (i.e. a sidekick) by Coach Boomer. His classmates include Ethan, who melts into a fluid; Zach, who glows in the dark; Magenta, who transforms into a guinea pig; and Layla, who joins the class in protest of the two-track nature of the school's education system. The class is taught by The Commander's former sidekick, "All American Boy".

Will learns from Nurse Spex that not everybody gets powers, and there are rare cases of those who have both parents with superpowers but do not inherit any superpowers, such as the bus driver, Ron Wilson. The Commander is unaware that his son has been relegated to Hero Support and shows Will his hidden trophy room, which he calls his "secret sanctum". He is particularly proud of the mysterious weapon, "The Pacifier", which he took from his science-themed nemesis Royal Pain years ago. Unknown to the two, Royal Pain, who has been presumed dead, watches them from a hidden camera in one of the other trophies, alongside a maniacal sidekick named Stitches.

As Will settles into Sky High and makes friends with the other sidekicks, he comes into conflict with pyrokinetic student Warren Peace, whose supervillain father was imprisoned by The Commander. During a fight between the two, Will eventually manifests super strength, impressing Gwen Grayson, a beautiful and popular technopath who controls machines with her mind. Will is subsequently transferred to the "Hero" track, and inevitably becomes popular and unable to hang out with his Hero Support friends.

Gwen visits the Stronghold's house and asks Will's parents to attend the Homecoming Dance to accept an award for Superhero of the Year, which they accept. Later on, while walking to her house, Gwen asks Will out to Homecoming and, to his delight, becomes his girlfriend. Will then begins spending more time with Gwen and her clique of friends, ignoring the sidekicks and Layla, who reveals to Warren that she has loved Will for a long time.

On the night before the dance, Gwen tricks Will into throwing a party at his house and has Speed steal the Pacifier, which goes unseen by Will when he takes her into the Secret Sanctum. After Gwen lies to Layla, who shows up to investigate the noise and believes the lie, Will breaks up with Gwen, refusing to attend the dance, even though his parents were invited as honored guests. Later, he looks through his father's old yearbook and sees a student who resembles Gwen holding the Pacifier, which he subsequently discovers has gone missing. Reasoning that the student, Sue Tenny, was Royal Pain and that Gwen is her daughter, he rushes to the dance.

At the dance party, Gwen reveals that she is in fact Royal Pain herself. During her previous confrontation with the Commander, the Pacifier, which is meant to turn its target into an infant, malfunctioned, turning her into a baby instead, inadvertently faking her alleged death. Raised by Stitches, she has since waited many years to exact her revenge. With the help of Stitches, Speed, Lash, and Penny, Royal Pain takes over the school, uses the Pacifier to turn Will's parents, the faculty, and students into babies, and plans to start a supervillain academy and raise the children as supervillains as revenge for being written off as a sidekick in her youth.

After returning to school, Will apologizes to Layla and teams up with Warren, the sidekicks, and Ron Wilson to save the day. The sidekicks demonstrate their heroism after Royal Pain sabotages the school's anti-gravity drive and their powers come in handy restarting it. Meanwhile, Will discovers that he has Jetstream's powers of flight when he is thrown off the edge of the school grounds and prevents the campus from falling using his two abilities.

Royal Pain and her henchmen are defeated and imprisoned in the detention halls. Will's parents, the faculty, and students are returned to their proper ages. His parents thank all of the sidekicks and admit they are true heroes. Will and Layla kiss, and a voiceover by Will at the end reveals that Ron Wilson gained superhuman powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste, thus becoming a superhero, he and Layla have become a couple, he and Warren became best friends, he and Gwen (who along with the other bullies went to prison) became archenemies. Will states that this was indeed a weird series of events, chalking the entire situation up to “high school.“


  • Michael Angarano as William "Will" Theodore Stronghold, a freshman at Sky High, whose parents are the two most famous superheroes — Commander and Jetstream — as well as Maxville's top real estate agents in their secret identities. His super strength, inherited from his father, and his ability to fly, inherited from his mother, start as inactive and gradually manifest over the film.
  • Danielle Panabaker as Layla Williams, Will's best friend and eventual love interest, who is a pacifist vegetarian and is able to animate and control plant life. Her mother's abilities are said to allow her to talk to animals and her father is a normal human.
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Grayson / Royal Pain (suit actress) / Sue "Tenny" Tennyson, a senior at Sky High whom Will, along with everyone else, falls in love with. Her power is technopathy. Winstead said of her role, "I bounced around. I was either the hero of the sidekicks or the sidekick to the heroes."[4] When she attended Sky High the first time, no one understood her class of powers and she was slated as a sidekick where an accident with the "Pacifier" de-aged her during a battle with the Commander.
    • Patrick Warburton provides the voice of Gwen in her Royal Pain suit. Winstead also serves as the suit actress of Gwen in her Royal Pain suit.
  • Steven Strait as Warren Peace, the son of an unnamed superheroine and a supervillain known as Baron Battle who is in jail with four life sentences. He is pyrokinetic. Warren is a high school outcast who tries to lead a decent life, but often misunderstood due to being a son of felonious father.
  • Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan Bank, a sidekick and one of Will's friends who can melt into a fluid (which earned him the nickname "Popsicle").
  • Kelly Vitz as Magenta "Maj" Lewis, One of Will's friends who shapeshifts into a guinea pig with purple highlights and streaks in her fur.
  • Nicholas Braun as Zachary "Zach" Braun / Zack Attack, Will's childhood friend who has the latent ability to glow in the dark.
  • Malika Haqq and Khadijah Haqq as Penny Lent, Gwen's best friend who duplicates herself and is naturally athletic.
  • Jake Sandvig as Lash, a skinny bully at Sky High who has elasticity.
  • Will Harris as Speed, an overweight bully at Sky High who can run at an extremely high speed.
  • Lynda Carter as Principal Powers, the principal of Sky High who has the power to change into a luminous energy form resembling a comet and back at will.
  • Bruce Campbell as Tommy Boomowski / Coach Boomer / Sonic Boom, the gym teacher at Sky High who has his ability to release sonic waves from his vocal cords which can be listed as sonic screaming. His real name is listed as Tommy Boomowski in the Commander's Sky High Yearbook. Coach Boomer's job is to sort the superheroes from the sidekicks and oversee the civilian rescue exercise.
  • Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson, Sky High's good-hearted bus driver. He is the offspring of two super-powered parents, just like Will Stronghold is the offspring of the Commander and Jetstream, but does not have any powers. He feels a great sense of pride in driving the "superheroes of tomorrow" to school. It is revealed at the end of the film that he fell into a vat of toxic waste, gaining superpowers of his own.
  • Kurt Russell as Steve Stronghold / The Commander, Will's father who is one of the world's strongest superheroes, displaying superhuman strength and invulnerability, and is a successful businessman in his secret identity. In a deleted scene, it is revealed that Steve was an investigative reporter who seeks to change his career before becoming a real estate agent.
  • Kelly Preston as Josie DeMarco-Stronghold / Jetstream, Will's mother and a successful real estate agent. As Jetstream, she uses the power of supersonic flight; she is also touted as being an expert in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex, a kind and eccentric elderly lady that serves as Sky High's single known school nurse, with the ability of x-ray vision. She is the one who tells Will that not everybody gets powers even if they are the child of two superheroes.
  • Jim Rash as Mr. Grayson / Stitches, Royal Pain's bumbling cackling sidekick. He raised her as his daughter after she was turned into a baby by the Pacifier.
  • Dave Foley as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy, The Commander's old sidekick who works as Hero Support teacher at Sky High.
  • Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla, The Mad Science teacher with a hyper-advanced (and oversized) brain, which grants him advanced intelligence, creativity and a multitude of genius-level skills.
  • Kim Rhodes as Professor Jeannie Elast / Elastic Girl, a girl who has the talent to twist her body into anything she wants. Her character was never shown in the final cut of the film.
  • Tom Kenny and Jill Talley as Mr. and Mrs. Chester Timmerman, a couple who witnesses Will prevent Sky High from falling on their home.
  • Loren Berman as Larry, a nerdy boy who can turn into a rock monster.
  • Dustin Ingram as Carbon Copy Kid, a boy that can make himself look like anyone.
  • Nicole Malgarini as Freeze Girl, a girl with cryokinetic powers.


Oviatt Library at CSU Northridge

Exterior shots of the Sky High school were filmed at the Oviatt Library[5] at California State University in Northridge.[6]

In between working on the first and second seasons of the animated series Kim Possible, creators Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle had begun writing a script for a live-action adaptation, which ultimately never came to fruition due to unknown reasons.[7] Impressed with their work, the filmmakers asked them to look into re-writing the script for Sky High, which had been previously shelved.[7] McCorkle believes they were recruited for Sky High because "they liked the idea of a superhero high school. I think, reading how we wrote teens in Kim Possible, they felt like, 'This feels good and contemporary, and maybe you can apply that to this project for us.'[7] Similar to Kim Possible, Schooley and McCorkle wrote Sky High to be equally appealing to both children and adults.[7] According to, Disney was attracted by the "original concept" of "children of superheroes going to high school", originally conceived by screenwriter Paul Hernandez in the 1990s.[8]

After recruiting comedy writers (creators of Kim Possible) for polishing Hernandez's script (they only wrote the beginning and ending sequences) Disney hired several comedians such as Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, and Kevin Heffernan for supporting roles.[8] For the main roles, the casting was a mix of established and new teenager actors: while Michael Angarano and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were already successful, Danielle Panabaker was little-known and Steven Strait (a former model) was hired after his first audition ever.[8]

Director Mike Mitchell said that Sky High functions on two premises: "the adults are all insane" and "the girls are smarter than the boys":[9] Therefore, all the adults portrayed in the film tend to be caricatured, while the teenage girls are written as more assertive and powerful than the boys. The film also employed extensive usage of tilted shots. For the treatment of the teenage actors, Mitchell also stated that the actors all had their own trailer and were generally kept separated, because "we did not want them to date after the second week and break up after the fourth", which would have made filming difficult.[9]

Mitchell, a science fiction fan, admitted that this project "was a dream", because it brought him together with four of his favorite SF cult heroes: namely Wonder Woman (popularized in the eponymous 1970s television series by actress Lynda Carter), Snake Plissken (portrayed by Kurt Russell), Ash Williams (from Evil Dead, played by Bruce Campbell) and Cloris Leachman, who earned fame as Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein; and worked with Lynda Carter before in the pilot movie episode for the Wonder Woman TV Series playing Hippolyta opposite Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman herself.[8]


Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJuly 26, 2005
LabelHollywood Records
Singles from Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
  1. "I Melt with You"
    Released: 2005
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[10]

The Sky High Original Soundtrack was released by Hollywood Records on July 26, 2005, and is composed of covers of songs from the 1980s (with the exception of "Just What I Needed", which was from 1978, despite most of the songs are from the '80s). While none of Michael Giacchino's score was included on the song album, a limited edition of his score was issued by Intrada Records in 2017.[11]

Track listing
  1. "I Melt with You" – Bowling for Soup (Originally by: Modern English) - 4:03
  2. "Through Being Cool" – They Might Be Giants (Originally by: Devo) - 3:17
  3. "Save It for Later" – Flashlight Brown (Originally by: The Beat) - 2:49
  4. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" – Christian Burns (Originally by: Tears for Fears) - 4:28
  5. "One Thing Leads to Another" – Steven Strait (Originally by: The Fixx) - 3:10
  6. "Lies" – The Click Five (Originally by: Thompson Twins) - 2:58
  7. "Voices Carry" – Vitamin C (Originally by: 'Til Tuesday) - 4:16
  8. "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" – Elefant (Originally by: The Smiths) - 2:53
  9. "True" – Cary Brothers (Originally by: Spandau Ballet) - 5:11
  10. "Just What I Needed" – Caleigh Peters (Originally by: The Cars) - 3:38
  11. "Can't Stop the World" – Ginger Sling (Originally by: The Go-Go's) - 3:25
  12. "And She Was" – Keaton Simons (Originally by: Talking Heads) - 3:49
  13. "Twist and Crawl" – Skindred (Originally by: The Beat) - 2:31


AllMusic rated the album 2.5/5, saying that it "stumbles more than it succeeds" and is "painfully conventional."[10]


Home media[edit]

The film was released in separate widescreen and full screen format editions on DVD on November 29, 2005. It was also released on VHS but only through Disney Movie Club, making it the final live-action Disney film to be released on VHS. It was also released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on November 21, 2006.


Box office[edit]

On an estimated budget of US$ 35 million,[2] the film grossed just under $64 million in the US, and another $22 million internationally, bringing the total to $86 million.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Sky High received generally favorable reviews from critics who praised the film's story, themes, writing, Mitchell's direction, and the performances of Angarano, Russell, Panabaker, Winstead and Strait. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 73% based on reviews from 131 critics, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus states: "This highly derivative superhero coming-of-age flick is moderately entertaining, family-friendly fluff."[12] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 62 based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A- on a scale of A+ to F.[14]

Joe Leydon of Variety magazine praised the film calling it: "Smartly written and sprightly played, “Sky High” satisfies with a clever commingling of spoofy superheroics, school-daze hijinks" and "this lively live-action Disney release stands on its own merits as a tongue-in-cheek fantasy with cross-generational appeal."[15] Neil Smith at wrote: "While originality is hardly the film's strongest suit, its agreeable mix of knowing spoof and kid-pleasing fantasy makes it considerably more engaging than some of the 'straight' superhero blockbusters we've suffered recently."[16]

Cancelled sequel and TV series[edit]

In November 2016, Disney announced to develop a sequel to Sky High, and that the film is in early development stages.[17] In January 2019, Mike Mitchell revealed about earlier plans to make a franchise, but due to the film's box-office performance, nothing came to be. A sequel to the film would have been called Save U (as in Save University) and would have featured the characters graduating high school and attending college. There were also plans to make a TV series. Everyone, except for Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, had signed on to return,[18] but there are no new developments for TV series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Detail view of Movies Page". Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Sky High (2005)". The Numbers. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Sky High (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  4. ^ "Sky Kids Have Hero Issues," (22-JULY-05).
  5. ^ "Oviatt Library". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  6. ^ "University Licensing". California State University, Northridge. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Liu, Ed (February 9, 2007). "Toon Zone Interviews Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle on Kim Possible Season 4". Anime Superhero News. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "Kurt Russell and company go back to high school to learn what it means to be super in Sky High". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Sky High DVD extras
  10. ^ a b Sky High at AllMusic
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Sky High (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  13. ^ "Sky High". Metacritic.
  14. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  15. ^ Joe Leydon (July 27, 2005). "Sky High". Variety magazine.
  16. ^ Neil Smith (September 18, 2005). "BBC - Movies - review - Sky High".
  17. ^ Heath, Paul (October 17, 2016). "Exclusive: Story writer revealed for Dreamworks' 'Shrek 5' – 'Sky High 2' coming?". The Hollywood News.
  18. ^ Lussier, Germain (January 25, 2019). "The Unrealized Sky High Sequel Could Have Been Called Save University". io9. Retrieved January 26, 2019.

External links[edit]