Power Rangers is a show that never really stopped. But if you’re a member of Gen Y, or just someone who doesn’t watch children’s television on the regular, you might be wondering how - on this mighty morphin’ earth - the Power Rangers ended up with a live action movie in 2017.
Originally based on (and featuring footage from) the Japanese tokusatsu Super Sentai, made by the Toei Company, the Power Rangers has always been about a group of diverse, super powered high schoolers in brightly coloured suits.
Storylines revolve around teen melodrama, martial arts and kaiju monsters, all in a kid-friendly format. The series from the 90s puttered along with a low production value, and relied heavily on camp. If you need to take a trip down memory lane, behold:
Written by John Gatins and directed by Dean Israelite, 2017's Power Rangers is the third movie made about these superheroes. But this time it's a reboot that re-tells their origin story. This is a “darker”, “grittier” Power Rangers, as evidenced by the slightly subdued colour palette, that owes a great debt to both The Breakfast Club and Pacific Rim.
Don’t worry, it’s not really a Batman Begins-style angsty overhaul of the franchise. All the old essentials remain, including Power Coins, Dinozords, and diversity.
There's two women on the team, and one Black actor (RJ Cyler), one Asian actor (Ludi Lin), and a Hispanic actress (Becky G.). What’s more, one character explains that he is on the Autism spectrum, while another character is explicitly stated to be gay.
In many ways, it’s no surprise that Power Rangers has received the reboot treatment. If the past decade of cinema has shown us anything, it’s that nostalgia for 80s and 90s pop culture can fuel franchises many films past a point where they should finish.
Transformers – the toys, which became the cartoon, which became the most Michael Bay thing that Michael Bay ever created – have inspired four films since 2007. Another Transformers movie is being released this year, while an untitled Bumblebee spin-off and another Transformers installment are planned for 2018 and 2019.
Everyone’s favoruite anthropomorphic teenage turtles named after Italian Renaissance artists; the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, which became an animated series, have similarly inspired six films over the years. Most recently, there was the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (is it any wonder Michael Bay was involved again?) and the sequel Out of the Shadows in 2016.
Power Rangers may not immediately seem to have the same sort of cultural cache that Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have, but over the years those spandex-clad superheroes have cemented their place in the nostalgia hall of fame. It’s been a bit more of a slow burn, but Power Rangers has become a cult phenomenon.
If you’ve been paying any attention to comic con lineups in Australia recently, you would have noticed an increasing number of ex-Rangers gracing our stages.
Perhaps the biggest indication of all, that the Power Rangers were ready to take the leap from B-grade TV series to A-level movie, was how people reacted to the supremely viral Power/Rangers sci-fi fan film in 2015.
Directed and co-written by Joseph Kahn (and also co-written by James Van Der Beek, an internet sensation in his own right – thank you 90s television for the Crying Dawson meme), it was released on YouTube and Vimeo two years ago, and the internet lost its collective mind.
Yep, we shouldn’t be surprised by the 2017 Power Rangers. We live in a geek chic, nostalgia obsessed time, where fantasy films and television shows dominate our screens. A reboot of kid’s series with superheroes who ride around in robotic dinosaurs was almost a given.
The question isn’t how Power Rangers ended up with a live action movie in 2017. The question is how long do we have to wait until the Thundercats get the same reboot treatment?
Hear us on SBS PopAsia Digital Radio
Listen in 24/7 on Digital Radio, by downloading our free mobile app or by streaming live here on our website.
Download the app here: