Who likes reboots? Usually they come with snarky comments or the fact that nothing can live up to the original. For there is a sense of nostalgia when watching the original that the reboot simply can not live up to. How can any studio even think about rebooting Citizen Kane or Casablanca. What can a writer do to add to the storyline or the universe that had been around without the addition being horribly wrong for the franchise.
Think about the Spider-Man series and how the story is now being retold again for the third time in the last 15 years. Each having to deal with the same character, Peter Parker, and how he became the superhero and his adventures. When Marvel Studios finally received the rights to this franchise from Sony, audiences and fans were calling Marvel to shelf Peter Parker and go for another Spider-Man story. One that it could be centered around Miles Morales for there had been a feeling that the Peter Parker story had been done to the grave.
Is there a valid reason to take a classic and bring it to the modern world? Why mess with a good thing? According to this article there around 8 reasons why reboots fail in their attempt to garner in a new generation. But I think that this is incorrect and especially for number six “By Broadening Its Appeal You’re Losing What Makes It Special”, reboots can signal a change, something good that’s happening, something that should be recognized and is special.
Now, this blog has spoken about how representation matters in one form or another. And if you look at the new Power Rangers movie, you can see racial and gender representation. Of girls being able to be strong and people of all races being able to be a hero. In the original Power Rangers, there was only two non-white characters, and they were the Black and Yellow Ranger (and guess which race portrayed which). And while this may not have been intentionally racist, when I was kid, I never got to be the Pink Ranger because I will always be the Yellow Ranger. But in the reboot, the Pink Ranger is played by an Indian girl, the Black Ranger, an Asian boy, the Blue Ranger, a black boy, and the Yellow Ranger, a Latina girl.
This reboot also signaled for the Blue Ranger aka Billy to be on the autism spectrum. By making a hero on the autistic spectrum, and while it is a huge part of his character, isn’t the only thing that he represents is incredibly special. It means that it is normal to be on that spectrum and that those kids can still be heroes. This signals a chance to talk about a group of people that were marginalized or pushed as tropes instead of this diverse community that thinks differently than those not on the spectrum
But I think one of the most critical things they did for this reboot in my opinion was making Trini, the Yellow Ranger, part of the LGBTQI community. Now, I know, you are probably thinking, really, that’s what you want to focus instead of the diverse cast and how great this is for young children and how this is a stepping stone to diversity. I could and I want to praise Power Rangers for creating a diverse and beautiful cast, but that’s not the point of this post.
The post is about how and why a reboot can change everything, even beyond just diversity, and why Trini being a LGBTQI character means something more than just representation. It’s also about acknowledging past sins of the franchise and redemption. In the original series, Billy was played by David Yost, and the actor had not come out yet to the public about being gay in his private life. Now, he worked in the 90’s which also meant that there were not a lot of openly gay actors in the industry. However, the saddest part of this story, isn’t just this. It was that his own cast and crew knew and harassed and verbally abused him for being gay. There was no one that he could talk to about this incident and it led him to choose either to leave the show or to commit suicide. And even after the leaving the show, the trauma he faced by basically being told that a hero or actor cannot be gay, was trying to not be gay, and trying to be someone who he wasn’t. This led to a nervous breakdown and hospitalization before he was able to come to a place where he felt that he could like himself again.
By making Trini part of the LGBTQI community it wasn’t just an apology for what the series did to David Yost, but it did something special for a community that a former Ranger was a part of and was harassed for. It is signaling a change that in ten years, an actor or hero can be gay and that is perfectly fine. Watching the new movie, Yost was excited .saying that it wasn’t just making Trini gay to make her gay, it was something that was built into a character and instead of making her a trope, they created a representation that felt right.
So unlike, what that article said about how broadening the appeal of the series can make it less special, I think that reboots can mean a new era for the movie age. By making the Power Rangers diverse racially, sexually, mentally, and even by their sexual orientation, they brought back the real essence of Power Rangers that seems lost in all the action scenes. This essence is the inclusivity and statement that says anyone can be a Ranger, even you.