Fans of the Power Rangers franchise are die-hard to the core. Many have watched the continuing TV series installments into the 2010s. But many can agree there was a dramatic shift in content, audience appeal, and overall aesthetic after the late 2000s. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a unique mixture of childhood innocence, action, monsters, and teenagers with attitude. After Power Rangers RPM in 2009, the franchise lost its edge compared to newer series like Power Ranger Dino Fury.
Saban sold the Power Rangers franchise in 2001 to Disney
One of the main reasons the franchise stuck to a precise formula was because it was under the direction of Saban. The company was responsible for adapting the famous Japanese franchise for American audiences. The once questionable series idea became a mega-hit for generations to come. But in 2001, Saban sold the franchise to Walt Disney.
While Power Rangers RPM was under Disney’s direction, it still held onto some of the nuance, technique, and story elements the original series was known for. RPM was still about a group of teens with their own personalities. The characters learn of greater evil and use Morphers to stop them.
RPM was not 100% perfect like Power Rangers Zeo or SPD, but it was still enjoyable for the original fan base. But over time, the new installments lacked in appealing to the right audience.
“The property languished at Disney, and Disney didn’t feel it was core to the company’s brand. So the Burbank entertainment giant sold Power Rangers back to Saban in 2010 for less than $100 million,” according to the LA Times. In 2018, Saban sold the rights again but to Hasbro and shifted gears again on its target viewers.
‘Power Rangers RPM’ still held onto the memorable storyline and characters like the original series
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers up to Power Rangers S.P.D. did the job of enthralling audiences who grew up with the franchise into adulthood. The series was intended for children, but it was not developed that way. The characters had meaningful lines, stories, and a grown-up aesthetic. Fans on Reddit credit the new Power Rangers installments lackluster effect to one key factor.
“The writers underestimate the intelligence of the viewer. And I’m not talking about the nostalgia-ridden adults who watch, but even the kids that are in their target audience. Kids aren’t stupid. Older seasons succeeded in telling richer stories that were kid-friendly but didn’t talk down to them or oversimplify things. Lately, it feels like the weekly lesson is spelled out, and there’s too much reliance on slapstick comedy,” said one fan.
According to Den of Geek, RPM existed between the success of the older series and the dramatic shift of the newer installments. RPM was the last series that somehow worked. Den of Geek explains RPM had all the creative freedom in the world to appeal to the original fans as the company “couldn’t have cared less about the franchise.”
The battle between old tactics and new tactics complicate the success of a Power Rangers series
When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered in 1993, the advancements in graphics and CGI were a thing of the future. Part of Saban’s tactic was to cut and use the original fight footage from the Japanese series. The actors fought against a real stunt team dressed as Puddies. Power Rangers RPM star Rose McIver explains it was “uniquely practical.”
As the years have gone by, creating a series has changed. Some fans believe the old-style editing and graphics was part of the charm of the franchise up until RPM.
“I think the older sentai footage (shot on film) gave it the right balance between cheesy and cool and the civilian scenes were better acted. Something just works with the way they did megazord fights and battle scenes in the zordon era even if by today’s standard it’s ‘dated’,” said one fan on Reddit. While the new Power Rangers installments are still based on the Japanese originals, it still needs work to appeal to its original fans.