Why we're worried about the new Power Rangers movie

If the 1990s intersected in any way with your formative years, you were probably exposed to a solid dose of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a goofy American adaptation of a Japanese show about a bunch of teenagers fighting alien threats on Earth and beyond. If you happen to have kids today, you may still bear witness to the Power Rangers' interminable adventures, still going strong decades later. With a new Power Rangers movie planned for a 2017 release, will the show's lingering fans survive the upheaval? Prospects don't look very good, and here's why.

It's just not worth doing

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and their subsequent forms over the years—from Turbo to Dino Super Charge and Ninja Steel—have an incredibly dedicated horde of fans, and their slavish devotion is strong enough to keep the property going without shoving it through a weird reboot. As the show's original fans age, they're either still watching the show from their pile of action figures, or sharing new episodes with their kids. If Michael Bay's first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is any indication about how a reboot can hamstring a thriving franchise, this reboot could trip up a property that's already defying the odds.

Power Rangers continuity

The film's original producer, Roberto Orci, had stated in a 2014 interview that the film was both in continuity and a reboot at the same time, not unlike J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, which, coincidentally, Orci also helped write. There has to be a limit on how many times the same writer can pull the old "alternate reality reboot" card, and with a couple of years having passed and Orci leaving the project to work on another Star Trek film, fans are left to wonder if this movie will truly somehow happen within the convoluted Power Rangers continuity, or be a new thing entirely.

An unknown cast

Aside from Elizabeth Banks, who has signed on to play the Rangers' arch-nemesis Rita Repulsa, all of the actors and actresses who have been cast as the Rangers are relatively unknown. While it's definitely not unusual to give a fledgling actor a break with a huge property, an entire untested cast is definitely a risky move, especially without at least one anchor. Hopefully, the new cast breaks the old Power Rangers curse and ends up having happier lives than the originals. We feel you, David Yost.

Don't touch Zordon

Just about the only thing that can save the Power Rangers reboot is a truly amazing Zordon, the omniscient floating head that guides the teenagers that he kidnaps through their extraterrestrial trials. While the original Zordon is irreplaceable, the only sensible substitute would be Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston. Not only did Cranston work on the original MMPR as a voice actor, but original Blue Ranger Billy Cranston is reportedly named after him. And if Bryan Cranston can show up in that terrible Godzilla movie for a few minutes, he can surely make time for this garbage Japanese adaptation as well.

What's the demographic?

Kids must still be watching Power Rangers, because it's still airing consistently after many, many years. But it seems pretty clear from the show's merchandising that a pretty large part of the show's fans are 30-somethings who remain in the unrelenting grip of nostalgia, because 10-year-olds aren't the buying $50 Red Ranger action figures or $250 Zords. Producers have implied that this film will be a "grounded comedy," but what does that really mean? Are we talking The Brady Bunch Movie or Jem and the Holograms? The fine line between humor for kids and humor for adults is very difficult to walk.

MPAA ratings

The Power Rangers are violent. They use mystical swords to slash at bad guys, and when that doesn't work, they hop into gargantuan robots to smash the guts out of their enemies. Because of this reliance on kung-fu fighting, the show has actually been banned in certain countries, so while the TV show's bloodless fantasy violence is one thing, where will the movie fall on the ratings spectrum? A PG rating seems like it will be obviously, painfully sanitized for a younger audience, while a harsher rating will turn away the new, young audience that they're surely hoping to attract. More importantly, parents, will you want to die before the end credits?

Diversity

Power Rangers fans have already begun to get upset about the film's choice of racial diversity. Not only are some people upset that Elizabeth Banks was chosen to play an Asian villain (who is actually an alien anyhow, and also played by women of varying races in the American version of Power Rangers), but fans are upset that the racial makeup of the original cast has been switched around, as though the generic teenager caricatures in the American footage weren't completely interchangeable anyhow. If these early complaints are any indication of how the movie will fare, it's going to be a very difficult ride.

Delays

Saban and Lionsgate have been kicking around the Power Rangers reboot film since 2014, and projected release dates have been pushed back repeatedly, now resting solidly in 2017. The film's producer left during this prolonged process, and one of the current screenwriters attached to the movie is also responsible for Agent Cody Banks. The film's director, Dean Israelite, has only directed one feature film, Project Almanac, which even the most generous critic has only called "watchable." If this sounds a little like the formula that went into the disastrous Fantastic Four reboot, that's because it does. Saban, if you love something, set it free.