The cast of 2017’s Power Rangers (from Lionsgate and director Dean Israelite) have assembled and production is underway in Vancouver. The studio is hoping the movie is just the beginning for its next major young adult franchise now that The Hunger Games is done. A first look from Entertainment Weekly reveals … well, not much, but they definitely look like teenagers with attitude.
A modern interpretation of the cult ’90s show about ordinary teens who become superheroes and pilot big-ass robots, Power Rangers is ready to capitalize on the success of YA sci-fi and superheroes. The film stars mostly unknowns with one A-lister, Elizabeth Banks, but the production crew sports strong lineage; Allison Shearmur of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is executive-producing, composer Brian Tyler from Avengers: Age of Ultron is scoring, Oscar-nominee Hamish Purdy of The Revenant is the set decorator, cinematographer Matt Lloyd comes from Marvel’s Daredevil, and Peter Jackson favorite Weta Workshop is updating the color-coded costumes. Lionsgate is serious about making Power Rangers the next big thing, but will it?
Perhaps it will, thanks to Power Rangers’ inclination to diversity. The original TV show featured the first black and Asian superheroes on American television, but even in today’s pop culture climate, diversity — or lack thereof — remains an issue (e.g., Marvel casting Finn Jones for Iron Fist).
“From the very beginning, diversity was a very important part of the whole process,” Power Rangers director Dean Israelite told EW. “We switched all of the races around, but we made sure that the essence of each of those characters are who they were in the original show, and this really will be an origin story of those characters.”
Also working to the movie’s benefit is the aforementioned Weta Workshop, the Oscar-winning studio known for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Commenting on the suits, Israelite said they’re “really modern, edgy, badass. …”
“One key that’s different to the Power Ranger suits is that they’re not really suits that people get into,” he explains to EW. “They’re suits that morph onto our kids, so they already have this almost metaphysical quality to them.” I hope that means they’re not organic like Ryan Reynolds’ horrid (and animated) Green Lantern suit.
Israelite also hyped up getting Elizabeth Banks as the villainess Rita Repulsa, a space witch who wants to conquer Earth. Being such an outlandish character, casting Rita had to nail it and Israelite — and much of the world — thought they did. “You should always be off-balance when you’re watching her. Is she insane? Is she totally calculated? Does she know what she’s doing? Elizabeth can toe that line really well.”
Though the original show holds a firm place in millennial nostalgia, Power Rangers could fare better than other cash-grabs from the ’90s that won’t die. Fuller House, the Baywatch reboot, or whatever the hell Nickelodeon is up to, maybe Power Rangers, of all things, can prove how to grow up.
Power Rangers releases March 24, 2017.