Monday, 14 October 2019

Script Chat: The Power Of Origins & Reboots



For so many people my age, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a huge part of their childhood growing up. Set in Angel Grove, the show centres around five teenagers with attitude are given superpowers to stop Rita Repulsa, an intergalactic sorceress as she seeks world domination. 


Now in its twenty-sixth season, Power Rangers is one of the longest children’s franchises in history and in 2017, the franchise saw its return to the big screen. What was described as a reimagining of the original TV series, fans both old and new had high hopes for the film. However, the film received mixed reviews from critics and fans alike and plans for a sequel were put on hold. 

With the Power Rangers franchise now in the hands of Hasbro, fans eagerly anticipate what is next for the franchise on the big screen. So, what can Hasbro learn from the 2017 film if they are going to tackle a reboot? First, let’s breakdown what the 2017 film did well:

Adding Depth to the Mythology of Power Rangers.

In the original TV show, the audience knows very little about the two central characters behind the show’s mythology - Rita and Zordon. The pilot episode “Day of the Dumpster” gives us the bare bones of what we need to know to follow the story. However, there really isn’t a character arc for these two characters at all. 


The 2017 film tackled this head-on with a spectacular opening scene by making one drastic change to these two pinnacle characters: 

They were Power Rangers themselves. 

Not only did this solve a “plothole” in the original TV show, but it also packs a punch beefing up the conflict between them from the start. The audience is fully invested to see how this conflict will play out, especially as fans know all to well that Rita will make her return. 



Celebrating diversity

This representation of “teenagers with attitude” was a breath of fresh air, capturing the life and struggles of Millenials today. Unlike the TV series, the 2017 film breaks barriers, going beyond race to introduce to the big screen an LGBT superhero as well as someone who is on the autistic spectrum. 


The 2017 film has the luxury to introduce the Rangers in greater detail, allowing the audience to really get to know them. In turn, the audience learns of their flaws which they must overcome together in order to morph and defeat Rita. This is a really clever and simple way of linking both their internal and external goals. 



Updating the show for modern audiences.

Despite initial criticism, the 2017 film actually does a splendid job in its effort to give new life to an outdated and camp TV show from the 1990s. Just take a look at the Rangers suits for example. Gone are the brightly coloured spandex and in its place, alien-like armour which looks pretty cool. 




With all that being said, for so many Power Rangers fans the film didn’t hit the mark. The film made $142.3 million against its $105 million budget. What had gone wrong? Let’s break down what Hasbro may want to consider doing in its effort to bring Power Rangers back to the big screen



Cut the origin story.

In Captain America: Civil War, Marvel proved hands down with their introduction of Spiderman to the MCU that it doesn’t need an entire film dedicated to it. 
The origin story is more often than not reductant for modern audiences. They don’t really care how a superhero got their powers and is a huge waste of time which is precious to tell a story.


Even though the 2017 film does a brilliant job in its reimagined take on the origins story, it will be quite difficult for Hasbro to top it. So rather than focusing on the HOW and WHY focus more on the Rangers DEALING/COPING being superheroes. What effect would it have on them being adolescences? 

At the end of the day, teenagers are on the front line protecting Angel Grove and the world. People idolise the Power Rangers but would you REALLY choose/accept being one? 


This film could focus quite heavily on the psychological impact the Rangers have to deal with, in particular, Jason their leader. Torn between his obligations to Zordon and his friends, he must decide if he is the right person to lead the Rangers which Rita intends to exploit. It makes it personal and will allow the audience to sympathise with Jason. They could relate to him knowing the pressure he is under and it would also add a new layer to the character. 



An original story. 

In the 2017 film, the mid-credit scene reveals that the sequel would focus heavily on the “Green with Evil” storyline from the original TV show. To defeat the Power Rangers once and for all, Rita decides to fight them with her very own evil Green Ranger. 


Although many fans were keen to see the film adapt to this storyline, these series of films planned would struggle to offer something new to the fans. For an idea of how an original story may pay off, take a look at the success of the comic book series from BOOM Studios. Not only are they an original story, but they also take the TV show into a dark new world which fans are longing for. 

This will also give Hasbro room to manoeuvre and not be constraint with what already exists. It will allow them to be as creative as possible knowing that the possibilities for a story are endless. What if the Power Rangers are no longer teenagers and are hard-faced veterans? Having sacrificed their lives for the cause of protecting the world, the heroes once known as the Power Rangers must put their differences and past experience behind them and unite when an old foe returns. 



Capture the essence of the TV show:

Despite its best efforts, not everything about the 2017 film was popular with die-hard fans. Designs for Goldar and the Zords received a huge amount of backlash from fans. When the film was released, some of the original cast members were vocal agreeing with the criticism some of the changes the 2017 film made. This was a risky thing to do and unfortunately, it didn’t pay off. 

This, perhaps, puts Hasbro in a difficult position. In order to keep fans invested in the franchise, they have to strike a balance between keeping faithful to the original TV show as well as putting their spin on it. Easier said than done. 


However, Hasbro may be able to pull this off if they go back to basics. 

Introduce a morphin’ sequence that blows the minds of fans, character designs that are closer to the originals, as well as characters that were missing from the 2017 film. Just the little things that made the TV show unique and adored by fans alike.

Reboots are HARD.

Perhaps this is why Hasbro hasn’t officially announced their plans with a Power Rangers movie. As time goes on, it’s very unlikely that the sequel to the 2017 film will be made. 

But, if it was to be made… For fun, here’s how I would approach making a direct sequel:


POWER RANGERS - BACK TO ACTION! 

The 2017 film sets-up the “Green with Evil” storyline as its sequel. So that’s what will happen. But here’s what I personally would change to match the tone of the first film and please the fans:



The Aftermath.

Set 3-6 months after the first film, the Power Rangers haven’t been seen since they defeated Rita and Goldar. But the effects of their battle remains as, unlike in the original TV show, there were casualties. Hundreds of people died and Angel Grove is a huge construction site. 

Tommy Oliver is Transgender.

Fans and the cast were open for Tommy to be female, however, making Tommy transgender will go a step further to be fully inclusive continuing the trend of the Power Rangers films being able to break down barriers. 

The Rangers personal struggle.

Jason suffers from PTSD and recurring nightmares. Trini’s family are planning to move out of Angel Grove. And Zac abuses his Ranger powers as his mother’s condition worsen to pay for life-prolonging drugs.

Trini and Zac were not utilised fully in the 2017 film. This will need to be addressed in the sequel. This rift within the team should foreshadow what’s to come when they are confronted with another Ranger hellbent to defeat them. 

A NEW Anatagonist.

A crowd-pleaser will be to introduce LORD ZEDD and make him the main antagonist in the sequel. To cement his dominance, Lord Zedd KILL Rita and is the one to corrupt Tommy. 

To make this Lord Zedd unique, and maybe somewhat controversial, Lord Zedd will have the ability to shapeshift between his classic character design from the TV show to disguise himself as a human. 

This way, an A-Listed Actor may be drawn to the character knowing his face will be on screen.



Billy builds the Power Morphers. 

The morphin’ scene in the 2017 film was spectacular. But, it just wasn’t the same as the TV show. That is a part of the show all fans want to imitate and longed to see on the big screen with a Hollywood budget. 

It makes complete sense for Billy to build the Power Morphers in the sequel. 
In the 2017 film, the ability to morph had to be unlocked as the Ranger’s armour grows naturally from within themselves. Billy was the first to do this despite being aware he had done it. So the Power Morphers in this universe would be more like a key to help the Rangers morph at will. 

Scott Baker is a screenwriter and producer with a passion for the horror genre. Starting with short films, Scott is currently writing two feature lengths with the goal to produce them
independently and start up a Blumhouse like model here in the UK. 

Aside from writing, Scott works with the London Screenwriters’ Festival who will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary in 2020 and is a content writer for Shore Scripts. Scott has also worked with theGreat American PitchFest and promoted “Once Upon A Nightmare” an Edinburgh FringeFestival production written by the Clarkson Twins and Gemma Hurley.

You can find Scott on Instagram and on his Twitter
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