The first Power Rangers teaser debuted on Saturday at New York Comic Con, but not before some wonderful idiot posted it early that morning on the film’s Facebook page. Whoops. You know I was all over that shit though. I woke up at just the right moment and fumbled to find a working link before they all got wiped off of the Internet and I had to go to work.
But goddamn, it was worth it.
When the movie was announced over a year ago, I was incredibly skeptical. I wouldn’t consider Mighty Morphin up there with my favorite iterations of the show. Let’s be real: it was an incredibly shallow toy commercial and to be (Jason David) frank, the amount of MMPR nostalgia and merchandise has been a little bit exhausting lately.
To its credit, the cast and crew had no idea what they were doing. Combining Japanese footage with their own original American stuff was a huge undertaking, and there wasn’t anything like it at the time. When the show got incredibly popular, the production schedule got kicked into high gear. They got better at it over time, and there’s been some changes to the production since 1993, but the core of the show has persevered over the last 23 years. That has never changed.
And with this teaser, I think it’s safe to say that the core is still in tact with this film. And that makes me more pumped than anything else I’ve seen so far – and I’ve loved every bit of it, let me tell you.
I’m sure this sounds crazy to some people. The movie looks so different and so much more mature than that campy show about goody-two-shoes twenty-something teenagers with spandex suits!
Well, sure. Many would argue that’s what Mighty Morphin was about, and they’re not exactly wrong. In fact, I’m pretty sure the show went out of its way to set up the characters, the tone, and the “moral of the day” structure to create something tailor-made for PSA fodder. How can an adaptation where Jason wears an ankle bracelet be true to such squeaky-clean source material?
Because at the core of Power Rangers is something that I’m not even sure the people who made the show realized, at least in the early days. It’s not about what costumes they wear. It’s not about what the Zords look like. It’s not about Bulk and Skull falling face-first into pies while the Rangers laugh in their faces. (Seriously, who were the bullies on this show again?) Power Rangers, in all of its various incarnations over the past two decades, good or bad or atrocious, has been about one thing.
Young individuals who overcome their differences and flaws to become something bigger than themselves. So, basically, teamwork through overwhelming adversity.
“That’s any team-up story, Gordie. Why are you so stupid?”
Yeah, but Rangers always had a different way of going about it. The moral of each episode was often tied in with the monster-of-the-day that they had to destroy. Remember when Billy got a B on a test and they had to fight Grumble Bee? That’s the kind of thing I’m getting at.
Take any given season of Rangers, any team, any combination of colors. Somewhere – and in some iterations more than others – this core is there. Sometimes it’s shallow. Sometimes it’s very overt. Sometimes it’s one Ranger in particular who just can’t seem to fit in with his new friends. Sometimes it varies from episode to episode. Sometimes it just sucks dick for four years and we all have to just sit and deal with it. Many times it’s shown visually through the formation of a giant robot or a final team attack.
But no matter what episode you pick from the 800-plus (fuck) that have been shoved onto the small screen, that core is there. Somewhere.
And this movie, based solely on what I have to work with so far, is taking the core and making it its bitch.
It was always implied that the Mighty Morphin kids were from different walks of life, but it was never really conveyed well in the show. You had the kind-hearted jock, his smooth-talking best friend, a valley girl, a nerdy guy, and the quiet girl. But throughout their entire tenure on the show, did you ever truly get the sense that they weren’t friends before Zordon kidnapped them? They all just kind of get along immediately, right? Like Saved by the Bell except they’re superheroes and also they killed Screech.
So much for teenagers with attitude.
The kind-hearted jock is now the homegrown athlete who wrecks his truck and somehow ends up on house arrest with a leg brace.
The smooth-talking guy still has swagger, but maybe he’s not very honest.
The valley girl is now the queen bee at her high school until she isn’t, and her “friends” go Mean Girls on her ass, so she chops off her hair and gets a little rebellious.
The nerdy guy now has a lot more trouble relating to people and he gravitates to the first person who sticks up for him.
The quiet girl has to move a lot because of her parents and as a result she’s always the new girl getting bullied.
Now, drawn by fate, they have to form a team to defend the world from scary Elizabeth Banks.
“So you mean they’re teenagers with attitude problems? That’s not the Power Rangers I know! That’s The Breakfast Club!”
Would you rather have Saved By the Bell?
This is Power Rangers. That’s the core. That’s why I’m so fucking excited.
Also, what the hell are they going underwater for?