Power Rangers-Studded 'The Order' Begins Shooting in 2019
And it may have accidentally predicted Trump's presidency.
For 25 years, the kids’ TV show Power Rangers gave young and impressionable audiences dozens of wholesome role models to look up to. Now, those wholesome role models are going to kill each other.
Three years after a successful crowdfunding campaign and a cool “proof of concept” trailer on Indiegogo, the action movie The Order, will begin the dirty work of principal photography in 2019. The film sports an ensemble cast of former stars from the Power Rangers television series inhabiting wildly darker characters than the heroes they played on Saturday morning TV.
In the interim, Karan Ashley and David Fielding, the architects and co-writers of The Order, have produced a graphic novel prequel, The Order: Icarus Rising, to satisfy an eager audience until the film is released.
Volume 1 debuted at Power Morphicon, the biennial Power Rangers fan convention, and is available on the film’s official website.
“We begin shooting the movie in 2019,” Ashley confirms to Inverse. “We always talked about doing a book. When we got stalled with the film, I said, ‘Let’s give the fans something,’ because they’re waiting. We’re at a comic con every weekend. It made sense to give them something visual they can hold onto.”
A three-volume prequel series illustrated by known Power Rangers fan artist Nathan Blu, The Order: Icarus Rising introduces fans to the film’s fictional universe where The Order — an elite, top secret team of trained black ops soldiers — maintain an invisible grip over the world.
Fielding, who played Zordon in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and co-wrote the story, describes The Order as a “clandestine group” that sounds like a cross of the IMF (of the Mission: Impossible films) and Men in Black.
“They globe hop and take care of problem situations that could tip the world towards either chaos or too much order,” Fielding says. “They’re trying to maintain a healthy balance so that normal people can just go about their lives.”
And unlike the Power Rangers, The Order are “good guys” who aren’t afraid of doing bad things to maintain peace. “The Order will do anything to establish balance,” says Ashley, who played Aisha, the Yellow Ranger, in Seasons 2 and 3 of the Mighty Morphin series. “They make hard decisions. Being a good guy doesn’t mean doing good things.”
Fielding teases “something” that splits the group in half, for “political and philosophical reasons,” kicking off a civil war between two deadly factions. “It becomes very personal for these people who have spent so much time working and training [together], and now they’re across from each other.”
“They’re fighting their brothers and sisters,” Ashley adds, “these people they’ve been on the frontline with. So it’s very traumatic for all of them to look in the eye and consider them the bad guy.”
The graphic novel Icarus Rising allows Ashley and Fielding to expand upon The Order in ways that they can’t in the film, which Ashely says will be “action, non-stop” with little time for backstory.
“Due to certain restrictions, we had to bring things down a bit,” Fielding says. “Special effects are expensive. That sort of thing. That’s why we did the graphic novel. We’re able to do things we had to scale back from the film.”
Birthed from the numerous friendships Ashley and Fielding made as frequent guests in the comic book convention circuit, The Order ambitiously aims to give fans a new look at their favorite Power Rangers. “We wanted everyone to be a character you’re not used to seeing them in,” explains Ashley. “They’re getting to think outside the box, spread their wings as actors. We’re happy to bring our friends from this traveling circus we call comic cons.”
A lot has changed for The Order since fans crowdfunded a whopping $142,631 for the film in 2016. The movie found its director, Nick Gallard, a veteran stunt coordinator whose credits include the Star Wars prequels, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Black Mirror. Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame also joined the cast in a major role. There were a “million” rewrites.
But nothing compared to what happened in November 2016. During another rewriting stage, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Suddenly, a dark action movie about renegade agents seeking control became eerily timely and retroactively prescient.
“We were calling each other, like, ‘Did we tell the future?’” Ashley jokes. “One of our main bad guys, he is like that person, 45. It shows you when someone is drunk with power what they will do to keep it.”
“The main [story] thread has to do with data: Who has access to data, who controls data, and who can manipulate it,” Fielding adds. “With the election, the misdirection, the lies, controlling the narrative and it not being completely true, that creates villains. There has to be someone who has to stand up against that. I think we were on the cutting edge.”
The Order does not yet have a release date.