Marvel and DC dominate as the two biggest comic book universes, but Valiant, founded by former Marvel editors Jim Shooter and Bob Layton, is catching up quickly. The company may have recruited former Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers star Jason David Frank, a.k.a. the Green/White Ranger, for a new project.
A modified Valiant logo with a yellow background was first posted on Frank’s Instagram page late Thursday night. Because of Frank’s regular appearances at comic conventions, it seemed innocuous. Maybe he read an issue of Ninjak and liked it a lot, or maybe he wanted to campaign for something, like when he wanted a UFC fight with ex-WWE star CM Punk (Frank has a professional fight record of 5-0).
But later, Frank’s logo was tweeted out by Valiant’s official Twitter (with an emoji, because it’s 2016) and by CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and those subsequent posts hint at something that’s maybe more official.
The timing is suspicious. In the spring of 2015, Beijing-based DMG and Sony announced it would produce a cinematic universe of Valiant characters like X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Shadowman, and the duo Archer and Armstrong. Little has been heard about Valiant’s movie and TV efforts since, but Variety reported DMG’s investment was a nine-figure sum. That kind of money doesn’t just go away.
Could Jason David Frank’s post be a hint at a low-risk effort by Valiant in its film and TV productions? Valiant is confident in the cinematic universe strategy, but outside the comic book fanatic world, nobody knows X-O Manowar or Ninjak. Even regular Marvel and DC fans would be hard pressed to name a few Valiant staples. Generally producers seek out a major star to play obscure characters, like Marvel, when once upon a time no one knew Iron Man but nabbed a redeemed Robert Downey Jr. for the role.
But is Valiant trying something new? Frank hasn’t been a star since his Power Rangers heyday, but he’s still in fighting shape, runs a successful chain of martial arts schools, and is still recognized for his days as a ‘90s TV superhero. In 2011, Frank starred in the low-budget The One Warrior, and in 2014 he reprised his role as the Green Ranger in Power Rangers Super Megaforce on Nickelodeon. Frank is lightyears away from being Robert Downey Jr., but maybe that’s the point.
Valiant could not be reached for comment.