Though no one asked for it, I felt compelled to write an Op-Ed on (of all things) Power Rangers. I’m still relatively new to the fandom but, that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced a lot.
In a relatively short amount of time: I’ve been to Power Morphicon, hung out with rangers, been welcomed by the Ranger Nation, been hung in effigy and forced to come out as bi or pan-sexual (yeah, it really happened), and even hosted a few Panels. It comes as no surprise, then, that I have a lot to say on the matter.
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So without further adieu, here is my feeling about Power Rangers: my worries, fears, and overall concerns about its current trajectory.
The Power Rangers Journey Up To Now
In the last decade or so, the tendency at Saban and consequently the media it puts out has been intensely conservative. Think about it, the word “kill” can’t be used because of the negative connotation, yet kid shows like Disney’s Gravity Falls used it on a regular basis. And don’t get me started on representation as far as sexuality and identity is concerned. Once again, Disney is far more progressive with shows like Andy Mac, which had a gay titular character.
Power Rangers has gone from freewheeling, overdriven pop to cautious, dodgy retro nostalgia. What was dynamic has become static, with overused characters and dead ones that always return while nothing happens, or at least nothing of significance. Yes, Tommy, I’m looking your way. Thank you, Jason David Frank, for caring about the franchise enough to agree to come back – but after your third or fourth return, it becomes old hat if nothing happens that has any sort of lasting effect.
The stage is never cleared for new ideas, or original plot lines to develop and grow. The show has turned in on itself like a hangnail, growing septic and in need of removal. The only people watching are fanboys who don’t count.
They have to stop reaching out to the shrinking fan base or audience and re-engage the attention of the mainstream or die. I’ve said it so many times, fandoms are fragile and fickle but longtime fans will watch the show just to bitch about it NO MATTER WHAT. You don’t need to attract them, they are already here. Instead, they need to make the show accessible to the real world audience.
As fans, we deserve our Luke Skywalker chucking the lightsaber in the Last Jedi moment. What I’m saying is, we need to know that they aren’t going to rehash the same greatest hits we’ve seen before and are instead going to move forward. Yes, these stories are designed to continue forever, but the only way for that to happen is if they evolve. The model that’s generally used is to periodically do an anniversary episode and or do a back to basics reset. To bring everything back to how fans remember it and make it feel just like it used to. But looking to the past is only a temporary solution and not a path forward.
If you need a real world example, look at X-Men: First Class. They had an excellent opportunity to refresh the series with that film, but then they brought back the original director and the original cast or at least parts of it. Soon, the series was back to being the same contrived and boring mess they tried to get out of. On the other hand, there is Star Trek and Doctor Who, who share similar blueprints yet periodically evolve and refresh and therefore sustained their franchises for over 50 years.
I think that is exactly what Hasbro has come to realize with the hiring of Jonathan Entwistle. His progressive and inclusionary thinking and writing style will genuinely give Power Rangers the boost I’ve been clamouring about all throughout this tirade, if only with his willingness to make it “all connected”. If that sounds familiar, it’s because its Kevin Feige’s line.
I’m not saying Entwistle is going to do what Feige did Marvel, but he could do what Kyle Higgins did for Boom Studios and Power Rangers. It would just be on a stage with much more exposure. Maybe he could employ Higgins and Ryan Parrott, for that matter. Sure, some may say by now whatever they have to offer would be old hat, but they both have done amazing things with Boom Studios. Giving them free reign in the official canon with a developmental head like Entwistle at the wheel could really change the game and make Power Rangers a franchise worth being a fan of again.
What are your thoughts on Power Rangers these last few years, and what do you hope to see out of this change in leadership? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.