5 Ways To Recreate Power Rangers For A New Generation
Recently it was announced that there would be a reboot of the popular 90’s franchise, The Power Rangers releasing in 2016. For those of us, who grew up on the Saiban’s THE MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGER Series, this is exciting and morphenominal news! However, with the way that our nostalgic memories of childhood are reimagined and bastardized these days on the big screen, it’s a point of cautious concern for me personally.
What Was Power Rangers?
The Power Rangers started out as a serialized kids show on Fox Kids that followed a continuous plot and story with consistent characters and actors that were considered to be the live-action superheroes that Comic Book movies couldn’t provide at the time. At a certain point however, the format of the show kept changing along with the premise, from Mega Force, to Ninja Cops or Time Fools or Jungle Rats… or some other ridiculous concept with a brand new cast and a brand new story each season continuing to this day. However, the best incarnation had to have been the Dinosaur robot piloting, Martial Arts focused, original MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS.
Despite the awesome-ness of the show at the time, looking back, even my 6-year-old points out the plotholes and over all cheesiness of the episodes. So a reboot really has to dig deep in order to give us a Power Rangers movie that retains the essence and cool-ness of the show, while grounding it in some serious dramatic roots to combat the cynical and critical fan boy audience that we have all grown into. Here are some of my suggestions on how to do just that.
The Tone Of The New Power Rangers
First of all, dark & gritty simply doesn’t work with The Power Rangers in all their primary color glory. The show had many elements of b-movie style science fiction, but was ultimately a wholesome series aimed at children with majority of the episodes dealing with a moral message that the high-school characters had to deal with by the end. The monsters and fantastical elements were used as a metaphor for issues such as self-esteem, family conflicts, relationships or other everyday aspects of a young adult’s life. The new film needs to focus on that entertaining aspect of the franchise without taking things down emotionally tragic roads leading to depressive elements. The conflicts must be thematically relevant to today, without being obviously so. Instead of an all out dramatic action adventure, the film can attempt to have more of a light hearted and tongue in cheek attitude, almost mocking the genre itself, similar to the tone of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. (my Review here)
The new Power Rangers movie has to strip down the typical teenage archetypes that currently plague movies & television. The hyper aware-ness and sexuality exhibited by apparent ‘teens’ in shows like THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (My Review here) and movies like THE TWILIGHT SAGA, has to be brought down to a non-whiny, not-want-to-punch-them-in-the-face level of tolerance at least. While at the same time, can’t veer too far off to the left as being immature and ignorant young adults as shown in usual drunken college comedy. The model for this must be Joss Whedon’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Series (my Review here) that struck the perfect balance of high school priorities, intermingled with saving the world whilst going through teenage angst. The new would-be Rangers need to be developed properly and not be caricatures of themselves. The internal conflicts and growth for the character must go beyond the typical divorced parents, peer pressure and self esteem issues, which were very popular in the 90’s. A group of characters some with varied back stories and origins, some with history between each other, all stemming from different lifestyles who get to know each other as the movie progresses will better serve the dramatic impact of the story.
While most of the Series is featured in fictional cities, the new film needs to bring things closer to home in a real world environment. While many super hero origins deals with the heroes in metropolitan cities, let’s face it, a ‘golly-gee’ group of wholesome and morally good teenagers, for an intergalactic force to choose from at random is a concept that is very much dated. A varied group of teenagers from different backgrounds such as a rural small town in the middle of nowhere, a street rat from the city or even an immigrant new to the bustling city, who gain powers and are transported to and have to face the enemy in a major city, having responsibility of epic proportions thrust upon them would allow for more situational conflict as well as in story growth for the characters. The desperation they feel, the overwhelming suffocation at having that much pressure can easily be a metaphor the ruthless competition that kids feel these days at having to excel and pre-plan their careers from grade school. The cheese factor of the original show might even be hidden within these characters that could range from being naively idealistic to jaded and bitter teenagers in a world where technology makes it easier to gain world experience, without ever leaving your bedroom.
They could really go many ways here. A complete rebooted origin story introducing the Power Rangers concept to a new generation is definitely the best and safest way for a new screenwriter to take things. However, be it nostalgia or just a refusal to let go of the series I grew up on, I want a Legacy story. A world where ‘The Power Rangers’ were established heroes who fought away an Alien Invasion decades ago in a small town, known to the world only as rumor, unconfirmed reports and hearsay, and just as easily dismissed. Death and loss forced the original Rangers to disband only for the survivors to return now upon the discovery of their powers being passed down to a new group of youths. Jason David Frank, former Green & White Ranger is the best in shape from the original cast, so would love to see him return in a flawed, anti-hero mentor role.
Despite it’s nerdtastic origins, the new Power Rangers film has to be treated without any overbearing nostalgia or gimmickry. Sometimes, a coherent story and character development is forgone in favor of the novelty of the remake itself, the recent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES being a prime example. The makers of the new Power Rangers reboot need to make the film stand on it’s own two feet, contained within the story that is told within that movie, in that world, instead of convoluting the plot with concepts, ideas and story elements from the original. This is crucial for the success of any childhood franchise looking to make a comeback, as it has to not rely on its predecessor’s success from over 30 years ago, but instead create it’s own franchise with the audience of today.
The Power Rangers reboot is currently being written by Zack Stentz & Ashley Miller, screenwriters of some fanboy credible films like X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (Review here), THOR (Review here) and some FRINGE episodes, as well as Roberto Orci, the writer behind J.J. Abrams STAR TREK franchise and another fanboy pleasing writer. So far it seems the movie is in some pretty good hands.