I can't recall what motivated me to watch the original recently. Shepard died, and Glenn is even more grizzled, but I recall that original with all the joy and enthusiasm that I felt the first time. And laughed just as hard.
I was thirty when I saw it. By then I'd already learned to fly, sky dive and a lot more. Those characters were much closer to me, as I was also freshly out of the military, than for many. I didn't want to marry one. I wanted to BE one.
Remarkably, that film validated my addiction to adventure much later in life. When I saw it recently, I viewed it from the standpoint of a remarkable life still being lived on the edge, the way those guys did, but in my own way and on my own terms. In this way, John, such movies- acted instead of almost completely CGI- appeal to the pure adventurous in all of us. I grew up watching the liftoffs from the dock on my Florida lake. You and I never know what's going to inspire. NASA was in its great heyday before budget cuts reduced PhDs to flipping burgers in Cocoa Beach.
As a Disney cast member, from WDW's opening days many many years ago, I also understood magic. It used to stand for original. What you describe is the depressing fact that Disney, now a profit machine that grinds out increasingly uninteresting crap and sucks the blood out of Pixar and other once-proud entities for pure profit, I am old enough to have seen some things not age well. Some originals need to be left alone. In this case, the original Right Stuff was indeed, Right. And I am old enough to watch women and women of color become The Right Stuff of today-which, to my mind, might have made one hell of a lot more interesting story line than to do what Hollywood does: try to remake something that didn't need to be remade. But that's just me.
I would hate to see some fool try to take on the utterly magnificent Space Cowboys, which for my money is the single best bad, rad old farts being heroic (and rude and crude) movie of all time. At some point, someone will be making a female version of the same thing, but I doublt I'll be around for it. Still, nice thought. Given the bumper crop of (sometimes) great women badass movies it's a real possibility.