If you've been following the news for the upcoming 'Power Rangers' reboot, this is the unveiling you've been waiting for. Teasing us with Rita Repulsa and a shot of the main cast in street clothes was just a lead-up for the main event, and Entertainment Weekly brings us our first look at the 2017 feature film's heroes post-morphin' time. Check them out below, along with my personal analysis.
Here's what the director of the reboot, Dean Israelite, had to say about the new designs:
"The show was about kids coming of age, about metamorphosis. These suits needed to feel like they were catalyzed by these kids and their energy, their spirit."
I agree with him about the coming of age aspect to the show, but I don't see where he's coming from with that last sentence. Nothing about these suits seems to be directly relatable to the human teenage experience, but maybe he's hinting at something revealed in the film itself. His production designer, Andrew Menzies, also talked about the immense pressure involved in trying to please everyone:
"It’s tricky finding a new language for a superhero costume. Ours is an alien costume that grows on them, that’s not man-made. You can’t win everyone over, but we are trying to appeal to a more mature audience and gain new fans."
He's right of course, fans are already finding things to nitpick about with these new costumes. I can admit that Kyle and I had similar reactions, but I wanted to break it down a little more and maybe shed some light on what might have inspired these designs.
The image at the top of this article comes straight from the 1995 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie.' Just like we spoke briefly about on the podcast this week, these costumes were mind-blowing to my much younger self, as spandex was replaced by flexible armor that produced gadgets and cool new weapons, I couldn't help be impressed. They kept pretty close to the original show's design while updating them at the same time to compensate for a much larger budget. I think they did a fairly good job in retrospect.
These new suits are similar to the recently revealed Rita Repulsa design in my opinion; they just don't stand out at all. There's nothing inherently unique about them or specifically tied to what the filmmakers have described in the press. There are multiple quotes where they've said that the costumes would reflect the fact that they morph onto the Rangers instead of being suits that you change into. Many people took this to mean that they might have a kind of organic quality to them and I think Elizabeth Bank's character has a feel that conforms to that concept. The Ranger's armor, on the other hand, looks like it stands alongside the standard Hollywood overly-designed "power suit" look. So much so, in fact, that I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen a similar design to these before.
The first that came to mind actually has a loose connection to this reboot. Production designer Andrew Menzies worked on another film franchise that shares many of the elements seen in these new designs: the modern G.I. Joe reboot. I called it a loose connection because he actually only worked on 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation.' I do think the normal costumes that characters wear in both of those films share some DNA with the new Ranger's suits, but in particular, the "accelerator suits" in the first film were the most apparent to me immediately. Here's a reference if you've forgotten that film as much as the rest of the public has:
You can really see it in the helmets and the spaces between pieces of heavier armor. The designs are so busy it's hard to tell what's really going on.
The second image I thought of was 2009's 'Robocop' costume. This is actually closer in the way that it has a more streamlined look to it that's more fitted to the body, but is still trying way too hard to look cool and stand up to an original iconic design.
At the end of the day, it's the story and characters who are going to make this reboot successful or not. They'll most likely get a decent opening weekend just out of the curiosity and nostalgia of the fanbase, but if they want this to turn into a franchise and bring in new audiences, they're going to have to make something truly worthwhile. I really hope that's the case and we're seeing these designs wildly removed from the context of a good film, but I am definitely starting to have my doubts.
I think with everything they've said about these costumes, they really could have gone for a more organic, skin-adhering type of suit that would have been unique. If you haven't seen it, there was a sizzle reel type fan film that had some b-list (but awesome) actors attached that actually got fans pretty excited for a modern interpretation of this universe. It found a way to update the suits in some really interesting ways. They're actually what I imagined when director of the new film first started teasing what the suits might look like. Below are some shots from that, as well as an embed of the full film if you want to check them out in action (Warning, graphic content and language).
So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments if you think the film is on track, or at least interesting, and whether or not you'll be there on day one of the release.