‘Power Rangers’ Reboot: Everything We Know (and Don’t Know)

Power Rangers TV show

Power Rangers TV show | Source: Saban Entertainment

Power Rangers – a live-action children’s TV show that features spandex-clad superheroes – will soon be rebooted as a major motion picture that is scheduled to be released on January 13, 2017. The Power Rangers franchise has been kept alive through various TV series iterations ever since it made its debut on Fox in 1993. Despite its campy tone and stylized fight sequences, the original Power Rangers TV show was criticized for being too violent for children.

Of course, now that a reboot is in the works, questions about the level of violence in Power Rangers are cropping up once again. After all, when popular children’s shows like Transformers and G.I. Joe were rebooted for the big screen, they turned out much darker and grittier than the original TV shows. So will the upcoming Power Rangers movie follow the pattern established by other kids TV shows that have been adapted for the big screen or will it keep the somewhat goofy, tongue-in-cheek spirit of the original? Here’s everything we know about the new Power Rangers reboot, from the tone of the movie, to the latest casting announcements. 

[Update, 10/9/16: Added first teaser trailer.]

[Update, 1/19/17: Added first trailer.]

The story

Lionsgate has released the first official synopsis for the upcoming Power Rangers film. [Update, 3/1/16.]

Saban’s Power Rangers follows five ordinary high school kids who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat.  Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover that they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so they will have to overcome their real-life issues and band together as the Power Rangers before it is too late.

The costumes

Power Rangers

Power Rangers (2017) | Source: Lionsgate via EW

[Update, 5/5/16: Added first image of new costumes.] The first image showing the Power Rangers in their redesigned costumes has been released via Entertainment Weekly (see above). The new costumes have ditched the all-spandex look of the originals for a more tactical body armor appearance.

The tone: “Mature, but still playful.”

The question of “tone” was brought to the forefront earlier this year when a dark and violent fan-made short film about the Power Rangers surfaced on the Internet. Directed by Joseph Kahn, the violence-filled 14-minute short shows various members of the Rangers team as embittered adults after having spent their youth defending the earth from the alien witch Rita Repulsa and her minions. To say that the unofficial short film puts a more adult spin on the Power Rangers universe would be an understatement.

The explicit short film is filled with over-the-top violence and drug use: A coke-snorting Black Ranger cavorts with half-naked models before singlehandedly killing a group of North Koreans. The Pink Ranger is roughly interrogated as other members of the Rangers team are shown being assassinated in various gruesome ways.

 Power Rangers

Power Rangers | ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

So will the upcoming Power Rangers movie from Lionsgate take any cues from the unauthorized fan-made film? Don’t count on it. Although many fans embraced the more mature version of the Power Rangers seen in Kahn’s tribute, reactions from the various parties involved in the official movie suggest that the upcoming film will be nowhere near as extreme.

While there are currently no plans to bring this more adult version of the Power Rangers to the big screen, a similarly mature Power Rangers TV show may soon  show up on Netflix. Adi Shankar, who produced the Joseph Kahn-directed Power Rangers short, revealed  that he is working on new animated Power Rangers show for Netflix in an interview with Polygon.

“It’s a complete retelling of the first three seasons,” Shankar told Polygon. “And it’s going to be really fucking dark. Darker than any other Power Rangers series.”

[Update, 2/10/17: Added new details revealed in Adi Shankar’s interview with Polygon.]

Saban Brands, the company that holds the rights to the Power Rangers franchise and is working with Lionsgate on the upcoming reboot, already expressed its displeasure with the violence-filled fan film by hitting it with multiple takedown notices at the various websites where it was hosted. Although Saban later relented and allowed the film to remain up, it seems clear that at least one of the major parties that will determine the direction of the new movie is not in favor of a darker Power Rangers universe.

According to Variety, original series co-creator Haim Saban is one of the producers on the upcoming reboot. Both Saban and fellow co-creator Shuki Levy were involved in the two previous Power Rangers movie adaptations, including 1997’s Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie that Levy helped write and direct. Since both of those films stayed true to the spirit of the TV series, it’s probably safe to assume that the upcoming movie won’t feature Rangers doing lines of coke or close up shots of bullets exploding out the backs of people’s heads.

[Update, 7/7/16: Added Bryan Cranston’s comments about the tone of the film.]

On the other hand, the new Power Rangers movie definitely won’t be as childish as the original 1990s TV show. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Zordon actor Bryan Cranston even compared the new version to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy:

This is as different a reimagining as the ‘Batman’ television series as it became the ‘Batman’ movie series. You can’t compare those two, and nor can you compare this movie version of the ‘Power Rangers’ to that television series. It’s unrecognizable for the most part. There are tenets of the folklore that you hold onto for sure, but the inspiration is different, and the sensibility of it, and the approach to the film making is completely different.

The director

Dean Israelite

Dean Israelite (L) | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Similarly, the director who has been tapped to helm the reboot – Dean Israelite – is best-known for his work on the PG-13-rated Project Almanac. This means that the Power Rangers movie is unlikely to stray past the PG-13 threshold and may even aim for the PG rating that was given to the two previous Power Rangers films.

Finally, director Dean Israelite’s own comments about the script also suggest that the new film will not attempt to re-imagine the Power Rangers  as a group of dark, brooding superheroes. “I read the script and was really surprised by it and thought there was a really cool, contemporary, mature but still playful, buoyant and fun take on the material, and was updated in a really interesting way,” Israelite told IGN.

The writers

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in Thor

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in Thor | Source: Paramount Pictures

Although fans of Kahn’s unauthorized short film may be disappointed that the reboot won’t give Power Rangers a darker tone, there’s several reasons to believe that the new film will still turn out to be an entertaining reboot of a beloved ‘’90s TV show.

Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz – a writing team whose credits include the highly successful Marvel movies Thor and X-Men: First Class – also collaborated on the screenplay for Power Rangers. So bringing a little bit of Marvel’s superhero movie mojo to Power Rangers certainly won’t hurt either.

The cast

Here are all the Power Rangers movie cast members that have been revealed so far.

The Yellow Ranger

[Update, 9/21/16: Added image of the Yellow Ranger with their dinozord (see below).]

 

The Blue Ranger

Welcome #RJCyler to the team as the #BlueRanger in the upcoming @PowerRangersMovie!

A photo posted by Power Rangers (@powerrangersmovie) on

[Update, 9/21/16: Added image of the Blue Ranger with their dinozord (see below).]

 

 The Red Ranger

#DacreMontgomery is officially suiting up as the #RedRanger. Get excited for the @PowerRangersMovie, coming in 2017!

A photo posted by Power Rangers (@powerrangersmovie) on

[Update, 9/21/16: Added image of the Red Ranger with their dinozord (see below).]

 

The Pink Ranger

It’s official! #NaomiScott will play the #PinkRanger in the @PowerRangersMovie!  Coming in 2017…

A photo posted by Power Rangers (@powerrangersmovie) on

[Update, 9/21/16: Added image of the Pink Ranger with their dinozord (see below).]

 

Rita Repulsa

Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

[Update, 2/2/2016: Per Variety, Elizabeth Banks has now joined the cast as the evil alien witch, Rita Repulsa.]

[Update, 4/19/16: Added new image of Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, courtesy of EW (see below).]

Rita Repulsa, Power Rangers

Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa | Source: Lionsgate via Entertainment Weekly

[Update, 5/27/16: Photos from the film set in Vancouver, BC have emerged on the internet, courtesy of YVR Shoots (see below).]

 

[Update, 6/22/16: Added Bryan Cranston image.]

Another high-profile actor has joined the cast of the Power Rangers reboot. As revealed via the film’s official Twitter account, Cranston (Breaking Bad) has been cast as Zordon, the creator and leader of the Power Rangers.

 

Also revealed was the first poster for the film (see below).

 

[Update, 7/15/16: Added new image obtained by EW (see below) of Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) in a scene with Yellow Ranger Trini (singer Becky G).]

Rita Repulsa

Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) ambushes Yellow Ranger Trini (singer Becky G) | Source: Lionsgate via Entertainment Weekly

Alpha 5

[Update, 9/23/16: Per the official Power Rangers Twitter account, Bill Hader has been cast as Alpha 5, the Power Rangers’ robot assistant.]

 

[Update, 11/30/16: Added image of Alpha 5 (courtesy of IGN), below.]

Alpha 5 from the upcoming Power Rangers movie

Alpha 5 | Lionsgate via IGN

 

Other rumors

Chloë Grace Moretz

Chloë Grace Moretz | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

While earlier rumors reported by MoviePilot linked major stars ranging from Liam Neeson to Chloë Grace Moretz to the project, their involvement has yet to be officially confirmed.

Power Rangers is scheduled to land in theaters on March 24, 2017. [Update, 4/19/16 Changed release date from January 13 to March 24.]

All movie cast, crew, and awards information courtesy of IMDb.

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