20 years ago today (June 30), "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie" hit theaters everywhere, continuing the adventures of the '90s TV sensation. Embracing all the show's classic elements -- giant monsters, teen superheroes, transforming robots, ancient aliens and martial arts -- the 1995 movie went above and beyond to give us even more spectacle, while also staying true to the heart of "Power Rangers."
And now, after all this time, Lionsgate and Saban Entertainment are teaming up to give us a new "Power Rangers" movie, arriving in 2017, that will hopefully have the same effect as the '95 movie, which reignited the fandom that began with the original series.
To mark the film's 20th anniversary, we're taking a look back at what made "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie" so great and what the new movie could learn from it...
Update the Suits
Hey, spandex is great and all, but the '95 "Power Rangers" got it right when they gave the Rangers a much-needed makeover. Instead of skin-tight onesies (popularized on the TV show), the team was outfitted with armored suits and new tech (the Pterodactyl Thunder Whip, for example). Obviously the new movie will probably do something similar -- an update for the 21st century -- but it doesn't hurt to mention it, just in case!
Rangers Dish Out Quips
Power Rangers and quips go together like Spider-Man and, er... quips. The '95 movie was packed with zingers and puns -- some good, some bad and some downright quotable. While the new movie would do well to scale back some of the verbal sparring, you can't not have the Rangers crack a few jokes at least. After all, what's the fun in clobbering baddies without a little smack talk?
A Good Villain is Essential
Speaking of baddies, a super team is only as good as its villains, and the "Power Rangers" TV show was notorious for its numerous off-the-wall monsters. With a different bad guy in nearly every episode, it's safe to say the new movie has no shortage of options. While the '95 film came up with an all-new villain (Ivan Ooze), our money's on fan-favorite Rita Repulsa for the reboot -- with Lord Zedd tapping in for the sequel, natch.
Extreme Sports Are Awesome
What did the Rangers do in their downtime, you ask? Well, besides trying to survive high school, they all maintained pretty active lifestyles: karate, gymnastics, rollerblading -- Billy the Blue Ranger even invented a flying car once.
But the '95 movie gave us the Rangers' most extreme stunt yet: formation skydiving (or skysurfing in Tommy's case, because the Green/White Ranger always had to be slightly better than everyone else). While the new Power Rangers don't necessarily have to be as sporty as the originals, a wingsuit BASE jumping set piece would be pretty cool, right?
The Lore is Surprisingly Deep
Look, we get it: "Power Rangers" is cheesy by nature. Super-powered teenagers, giant talking monsters, multicolored transforming robots -- it's not exactly the stuff of "dark and gritty" reboots. However, there is a rich mythology to the franchise that predates the Rangers as we know them -- which makes sense, considering their powers derive from prehistoric dinosaurs. Beyond that, the Rangers' origins are based on alien technology, created in a time when distant worlds were at war.
The '95 movie touched on this history via Dulcea (see the wise-beyond-her-years bombshell above), but the new "Power Rangers" has an opportunity to dive even deeper into that canon -- or start from scratch, if the writers so choose. In any case, there's a great, untapped backstory that's begging to be explored. Hopefully we'll get to see that in some form at some point in the upcoming movie.
Every Team Needs a Leader
Going off that, a big part of the Power Rangers' history comes from their creator, Zordon, and his millennia-long feud with Rita Repulsa -- both of whom had major roles on the TV show and in the '95 film. Including Zordon in the new "Power Rangers" is almost a given, but to what extent he will select and lead the new Rangers remains to be seen. (And don't forget about Alpha 5! "Aye yai yai!")
It's Okay to Be a Little Silly
Tonally, "Power Rangers" is a double-edged sword. It has action/adventure, yes, but it also knows when to poke fun at itself. Going back to the quips, a bit of playfulness is key to selling "Power Rangers" to a new generation of fans. Granted, the reboot doesn't have to lean into it quite as hard as, say, the '95 movie, but a little humor goes a long way. Just look at film adaptations like "Transformers," "Star Trek" or pretty much any Marvel movie to get a sense of what we're talking about here -- not, for example, this year's "hard-R" (albeit entertaining) "Power/Rangers" bootleg. That's a whole other can of worms.
Don't Fight in Street Clothes
Like most other superheroes, maintaining a secret identity is crucial to the Power Rangers -- which is why it was a little weird that they always fought in street clothes in broad daylight on the TV show. Not only did Rita know each Ranger by name, but civilians could easily make out who the Rangers were just by watching them fight Putties in the middle of Angel Grove Park.
Luckily, the '95 movie reeled that in somewhat, by having them fight in an abandoned construction zone. Suffice to say, the new movie will need to use similar tactics to keep the public at large from knowing the Rangers' alter egos. Or, better yet, they could just skip fighting in street clothes and get straight to the morphin'.
Also Maybe Don't Color-Coordinate Street Clothes
While we're on the subject, it's probably best not to dress the Rangers in uber-conspicuous colors. (*cough*the '95 movie*cough*) Just sayin'...
Zords Aren't Just a Last Resort
Almost every single "Power Rangers" episode went something like this: Rita sends Putties to fight the Rangers, the Rangers beat them; Rita sends a new baddie to fight the Rangers, the Rangers beat it; said baddie turns into a mile-high version of itself, the Rangers call on their Zords to transform into the Megazord, and the Megazord beats the mile-high baddie.
Something feel off about that? Like, why didn't the Rangers just immediately call on their Zords to fight the baddie in the first place? (EDIT: Zordon's escalation rule be damned!) Well, the '95 movie did just that in the film's climax. Instead of immediately transforming into the Megazord, the Rangers used their individual Ninja Zords to thwart Ivan's Ectomorphicon Titans.
For the new movie, it stands to reason that the Rangers could easily call on their Zords in a pinch and use them whenever they wanted, not just as trump cards. These are incredibly useful mechanized assault vehicles we're talking about here -- let's see 'em put to good use!
When All Else Fails, Power Up
Having said that, there is a definite charm to transforming Zords into different, increasingly ridiculous forms. For example, the Dino Megazord has two basic forms -- Tank Mode and Battle Mode -- and can also combine with the Green Ranger's Dragonzord to form the Mega Dragonzord. Then, of course, the Mega Dragonzord can mount Titanus, the Carrier Zord, to form the Ultrazord -- and it only gets even more crazy with the advent of the Ninja Megazord, seen above.
The point is, Zords are freakin' awesome, and if the new Power Rangers movie knows what it's doing -- and we hope it does -- we're in for some serious Megazord upgrades.