Power Rangers - Ripe for a Reboot
In today's entertainment nostalgia value rules the day. Not only do we still revive old television and movie ideas from the golden age of film but we've also begun recycling much more recent ideas such as the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot being botched, I mean directed, by Michael Bay.
There is one television program from my 90s childhood that I think is extremely ripe for a reboot and it took the giant Jaegers from Pacific Rim and the excellent Avengers film to prove to me that we are ready to reboot the Power Rangers.
The Intro to the Power Rangers
It's Morphin' Time
So who or what are the Power Rangers? In Japan they are better known as the Super Sentai, or super squadron, and each team through each series is a group of Super Heroes who wear colorful armor (read: Spandex) and fight evil. In Japan the series has existed since the late 1970s but in the early 1990s footage from one of the many Super Sentai shows was recycled into an American version called Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. It is this original 90s series that I want to see rebooted with a big budget and see on the big screen.
Our heroes are five ordinary teenagers who all already know each other to some extent before being united as friends and fighters when they are recruited by an alien entity known as Zordon. While Zordon's origins are never quite explained he appears to be some kind of wizard with access to ancient technology. Among this technology are the Power Coins, which, through some magic or technology give the user access to a set of battle armor themed after an ancient animal. Also each coin controls a Zord, a massive and ancient machine similarly animal themed. In the original series the animals involved are ancient, either dinosaurs or Ice Age animals (like a Mastodon).
The Power Coins
The main antagonist of the series is a witch named Rita Repulsa who apparently has a castle on the moon though at the start of the series she has been imprisoned for ten thousand years in a “space dumpster” presumably through the efforts of Zordon in the distant past. Rita wastes no time declaring her desire to conquer Earth and to that end she sends monsters to destroy the city of Angel Grove. Despite having a desire to rule the entire Earth Rita conveniently only attacks the one city where the Power Rangers are based.
Our Rangers assemble once the monster is in town and defeat it typically using martial arts but sometimes utilizing a special set of weapons given to them by Zordon. In their down time our heroes serve as good role models for their community, helping the younger generation while attempting to get through high school with their anonymity as the Rangers intact.
At the end of each episode, after having been defeated, the monster-of-the-week gets a major boost in size from Rita, becoming a Kaiju-sized city-crushing monster. To defeat this threat the Rangers summon their Zords which then, in true Japanese style, combine and transform into a giant fighting robot.
Just imagine this incredibly massive Mega Zord done up in full CGI ala Pacific Rim.
The Art of Adaptation
The reason why I think a Power Rangers movie could actually turn out to be a good film has to do with the recent string of excellent comic book and superhero movies that Hollywood (in particular Marvel) have churned out in the last decade or so. The Avengers is the shining example, as heroes and actors with their own franchise films set aside their egos and share screen time in a massive team-up to save the world.
Comic book plot-lines tend to be extraordinarily weird so the source material from which the Avengers is taken isn't always well written or top-notch. Yet the writing is clever and the character interactions expertly crafted, thanks in no small part to the writing of Joss Whedon. With the right writer and the right attention to detail one can balance a dedication to the source material with a desire to create a good film that tells its own story.
One need look no farther than Batman. In the 60s the Batman of the comics was eclipsed by a seemingly silly almost spoof-like television series starring Adam West as the caped crusader. Now many fans of the character look back with embarrassment at that parody-esque campy version instead choosing to embrace the darker version of the character put forth in the 80s, 90s and the Nolan-era. One cannot deny that the character of Batman has evolved, and its clear that one can take the backstory and premise and other elements of the source material and create something vastly different both as far as quality and tone. It is important to balance the desire for nostalgia with the desire to create your own film.
The same could be done for the Power Rangers. Admittedly trying to sit through an episode of the show today is cringe-worthy for me, but at ages 5-13 I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and the show still continues in one form or another to this day.
If You Film It
Currently the Power Rangers airs as Power Rangers Megaforce here in the USA, it is obvious that, both in the form of older fans seeking nostalgia, and in the form of a new generation of young fans, the audience is there. People will go to see this in droves especially if you get some decent special effects and treat it like a real movie, not a joke or just a cash-in, but an actual film that serves the fans and the critics at the same time.
Teaser trailers and viral marketing could play a massive role in getting the fans of the original psyched and keeping the film PG or PG-13 allows parents to bring their kids but also frees us up to be edgier than the actual TV-Y television program.
The Original Cast?
Power Rangers did have two films with theatrical release, the first of which is actually watch-able in my opinion. If a new film was decided upon and development went forward the question would inevitably arise as to whether the original rangers should be included. The danger there is in giving the original cast of the show roles in the story that are too big. I think the key is to offer them cameos if they want them but not to promise any of them a major role, though Green Ranger Jason David Frank continues to rally fans and admittedly might deserve a shot at a starring role of some sort.
Making a film like this has a great deal of risk both financially and as far as the films success with the fans is concerned. It is important that they have a decent writer and people who care about the source material involved, unlike certain movies that are coming out soon.
Jason David Frank reprises his role as the White Ranger
While admittedly containing some silly source material the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers could, with modern special effects and film-making techniques, and a market steeped in nostalgia for its own sake, be a smash hit with fans, critics and at the box office. As someone who grew up watching the Rangers I find it a titillating and yet somewhat risky thing to hope for, as we don't want a repeat of the Transformers series which somehow continues to rake in money despite being abysmal in every way imaginable.
Keep Michael Bay far far away from the Rangers and also, on a more minor note, keep David Goyer far far away from the screenplay and we just might have a shot. Thanks for reading!