From one superhero franchise to another. Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, the writers behind X-Men: First Class, have signed on to mighty morph the Power Rangers film into something a little more sophisticated than the Saturday morning kid’s hour. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Orci, one of the screenwriters behind the Transformers and Star Trek franchises, has also hopped on board to serve as the film’s executive producer.
He will team up with Miller and Stentz to formulate a new story around the team of teenaged superheroes, but he’s leaving the actual screenwriting duties to the twosome, whose writing credits as a team also include 2011’s Thor and the highly important Frankie Muniz teen spy flick Agent Cody Banks. But the three shouldn’t have much of a problem finding inspiration in the source material — or even reason to change it much, actually.
First broadcast on television in 1993, Power Rangers derived material from a Japanese series called Super Sentai. The strange and cheesy but completely enthralling American version mixed newly shot scenes featuring English-speaking actors — our normal high school student heroes who would morph into the Power Rangers — with English-dubbed footage from Sentai featuring the Rangers leaping into action and fighting an impressive roster of enemies that consisted of slow-moving monsters, witches and robot overlords. It was like a B-movie rolled out in snippets every weekend for your kindergartener to soak up while you ate all the good cereal.
The heroes themselves are your average group of teens who all happen to have superpowers. It’s not quite clear why they have them, but this is a Japanese kids’ show that features an evil witch named Rita Repulsa, so that’s the smallest thing that doesn’t make sense. To morph into their alter egos, the kids band together and recite a chant then appear in their spandex uniforms to kick some ass/learn a moral about the importance of friendship and teamwork by the end of the episode. The Rangers are also apparently gifted pilots, as they fly personal planes called Zords to hit their targets from the sky, then they join the aircrafts together to form Megazord — like some Voltron 4 Kidz — when things are really about to hit the fan.
It’s good to have Orci on board, as his Transformers experience means he knows how to handle a seemingly innocuous kids franchise and twist it into all sorts of directions that nobody ever saw coming. He and his crew had some cartoons and the phrase “robots in disguise” and came back with four movies about explosions and robot-alien/human relationships — and then explosions again. Likewise with Miller and Stentz, whose superhero work with the X-Men and the mightiest, blondest Avenger mean that they could put real power behind a Pink Ranger and turn laughable villains like Lord Zedd into the faces of true evil. The point, if the studio wants a dark departure from the dubbed days of the early ’90s, is they have the team in place for their mighty reboot.
However, Haim Saban, the show’s creator, is serving as a producer as well. Is there still a chance we’ll see wacky villains and hear a sweet as hell theme song? Go Go Power Rangers.