In a recent interview, Roberto Orci assured fans that he “won’t ruin” the upcoming Power Rangers reboot because they’re making pains to uphold the series’ continuity. But that’s where things get tricky, because matching canon wholeheartedly means reconciling ninjas, aliens, and dinosaurs. Let’s tap into the
Morphing Continuity Grid and see what’s what!
Orci tells IGN that the screenplay for the reboot is not yet written—but we don’t blame him, considering how much research he’s been up to! While initial reports promised that the movie would “completely re-envision” this near-archetypal tale of kids morphing into crime fighters, now Orci claims that this movie will honor the original American series’ continuity.
To do so, seems to be a mix of delving into pure nostalgia…
Part of it is seeing what we remember of it; our generation and what our memories of it are. Part of it is seeing the fans of it today. There are a lot of kids that love it today, and so it’s about doing your homework. You talk to everybody who loves it and you find out why they love it and then you figure, what is the appropriate translation of that, tonally, to now?
…and then just getting into the nitty-gritty of the 700+ episodes:
One of the first things we did was learn and read… They have 600 pages of research that they have on their stuff. We read through the synopsis of everything they did and we are actually taking into account quite a bit of the canon in a real way. We’re not just a leave-it-behind reboot.
However, Orci has pointed out the problem right there: There’s such a staggering amount of canon that it seems nigh-impossible to cram it all into a two-hour movie that delights the viewers who grew up with it, without in turn boring them with something they saw 20 years ago.
The other problem is that Orci’s definition of “continuity” may not match Power Rangers’ definition of “continuity.” With 21 seasons spanning over two decades, the series actually already rebooted itself several times over. In fact, you can parse out the specific age differences in Millennials if you ask them which Power Rangers installment they remember watching on Saturday mornings—from Power Rangers Time Force to Power Rangers Ninja Storm, to Power Rangers Jungle Fury, etc.
Here’s what fans seem to generally agree on: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the OG series, lasted for four seasons from 1993-1996. (And let’s not forget Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and Ivan Ooze!) That 1996 season, renamed Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, kicked off several years of space adventures that still existed in the same continuity:
- Power Rangers Zeo (1996)
- Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997)
- Power Rangers Turbo (1997)—Note: This is where the original Rangers go into retirement and choose their replacements.
- Power Rangers in Space (1998)
Continuity starts to get snarled around 1999’s Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, which features a new cast and adventures in experimental space colonies. Each of the subsequent series seems to jump further and further away from Earth in terms of both distance and time. Well, until 2002, when Power Rangers Wild Force brings us back to Earth to recommune with animal Zords and a new bunch of spunky teenagers.
What we’ve given you so far just scratches the surface. There are several timelines that go into even more detail, from series-by-series breakdowns on Wikipedia to a more straightforward timeline to a fan wiki bravely tracking all the continuity between the series.
In short: Power Rangers is generally regarded to exist in a shared universe not unlike the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes. At least, from seasons 1-10. After that, The Powers That Be seemed to prefer individual universes. Except for the TV special “Forever Red,” which united all of the Red Rangers… and also Tommy the Green Ranger, because he’s rad. “Forever Red” seemed to be the rare occasion where all of the universes could coexist.
In our research, we stumbled across a fascinating Tumblr post from Power Rangers writer Amit Bhaumik, who’s done probably about as much research as Orci or we (at this point in this post) have. Bhaumik served as a researcher, consultant, and eventual story editor on several of the series, mostly Power Rangers Wild Force and Power Rangers Samurai.
In his Tumblr post, he shares what would’ve been his plan to incorporate the disparate seasons—including a Terminator-like future in Power Rangers RPM—into one canon. It’s definitely worth a read.
Back to Orci, who after all this, was still quite coy about what the plot will actually entail:
It’s got a continuity within the world. I can’t tell you what, but it does have a continuity.
We’re going to assume that the continuity he’s looking to uphold is for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, since it had the longest run and is what the most fans remember when you say the words “Power Rangers.” That seems to be reflected in this cute anecdote that Orci shared about meeting creator Haim Saban:
Saban cares very much about that. This is something that he created. I had to go to his house, personally, to tell him, “Listen, I’m your man. Miller and Stenz, these are your guys. I promise you I won’t ruin your franchise.” And he said, “It’s very important to me, because kids around the world know what the Power Rangers are. So you can’t just come in here and walk all over it. It better be consistent with what I’ve been doing.” And I said, “Yes sir!”
ScreenRant thinks that, with Lionsgate producing, the movie could be a lot darker than what we’re used to. But Collider cautions against going this route: “If they try to go too ’dark’ or ’realistic’ with it, they run the risk of creating a bland or incongruous film. Embrace the colorful nature of the property.”
Now, if they’re serious about this continuity thing, we’re gonna have to see some cameos from the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers cast. Orci acknowledged that they’ll try, though they’re relying on the folks at Saban for it. We think Jason David Frank would be down.
See more of the 20th Anniversary Promo images here.