The Rocket City has seen its share of celebrities come through the area. We've had TV shows like Samantha Brown's Places to Love, It's How You Get There, and even a past season of The Amazing Race. However, what can you learn about Huntsville from the silver screen? Here are some of our findings. Did we miss one? Comment and let us know!
SpaceCamp The Movie
SpaceCamp The Movie; Credit: MGM
The Movie: Before he was the Joker, Johnny Cash or a gladiator, Joaquin Phoenix (then known as “Leaf”) was just a young boy looking to make his way off the planet. One trip to Space Camp and a bit of misguided intervention from a sentient robot, and a shuttle full of Campers is on its way into orbit. What the movie lacks in technical accuracy, it makes up for in heart.
The Takeaway: Besides the fact that Huntsville is where you need to program your GPS for when you get ready to come to Space Camp? This movie is just one of several built around Space Camp – see also “A Smile As Big as the Moon” and “Space Warriors” and the Olsen Twins’ “The Case of the U.S. Space Camp Mission” – and the thing they have in common is inspiring young explorers. If a trip to Huntsville results in you launching to space for real, you wouldn’t be the first.
Ravagers; 20 Years After
20 Years After; Credit: Kooroc Flms
The Movie: Huntsville appears in not one, but two, post-apocalyptic movies – 1979’s Ravagers, starring Richard Harris, Ernest Borgnine and Art Carney; and 2008’s 20 Years After. In the former; the U.S. Space & Rocket Center appears as a rocket graveyard after a nuclear holocaust; the latter is set 20 years after bombs and plagues.
The Takeaway: If you’re looking for a place that’s likely to thrive after everything falls apart, you can do worse than Huntsville. 2020 wasn’t as bad as a nuclear holocaust, but it’s wasn’t great either. Even so, Huntsville’s made multiple lists of cities that withstood COVID-19 well. If you’re looking for a place to weather out Armageddon, keep the Rocket City in mind.
Constellation; Credit: Constellation LLC
The Movie: Billy Dee Williams and Zoe Saldana are part of a family that reunites in Huntsville for the funeral of their matriarch and find themselves confronting their demons and pent-up emotions to rebuild relationships.
The Takeaway: There are two takeaways here. First, for all Huntsville’s Space Age reputation as the Rocket City, there still beats here the heart of a small Southern town, where family is important. Second, even this small family drama stars Lando Calrissian and Lieutenant Uhura, so there’s no denying that we’ll probably always be a little geeky.
Zero; Credit: Colour Yellow Productions
The Movie: A Bollywood extravaganza that starts with a man’s not-quite love affair with a pop idol and his resulting trip to space to win back his one true love; if you’re not quite sure the plot holds up the dance numbers more than make up for it. A heavily digitally edited Huntsville stands in for the space agency headquarters where mission preparations take place. Also, there’s a chimpanzee.
The Takeaway: Sure, Huntsville’s a whole lot “SpaceCamp” and a good bit “Constellation,” but we’re also a little bit Bollywood. We’re rockets, but we’re also dance numbers. Huntsville’s a diverse place, and whatever expectation you have coming here, you’re probably going to find something that challenges it.
Bonus: Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel; Credit: Disney
The Movie: Huntsville doesn’t actually appear in Carol Danver’s Marvel movie debut, but we do get namechecked as the home town of Nick Fury.
The Takeaway: You might marvel that there’s a low-key connection between the city that maintains our nation’s missile shield and will soon host Space Command’s Guardians of the High Frontier and Nick Fury, but while I’d love to patch you in, the secret is one I’d never tell.