When a 2017 Power Rangers film was announced, the reactions were mixed. Plenty of so-called “’90s kids” who grew up watching the television series were immediately excited. However, the larger film community seemed to collectively roll its eyes at the idea, viewing the project as a money grab.As it turns out, this idea deserves some attention. We learned earlier this year that Lionsgate is hoping to release sequels following the first film, and there appears to be definite franchise potential for the Power Rangers in film. But we shouldn’t be taking this seriously just because it could go on for a while—plenty of lousy films turn into franchises. Rather, we should be treating the 2017 Power Rangers with respect because not doing so would be pretty hypocritical. This idea was explained in detail in a rather smart YouTube video released by Escapist Movies, and we’ll summarize some of the points therein.
Generation X Dominates Film Criticism
Despite young people and Baby Boomers alike writing movie reviews and criticism, Generation X’ers (mid-30s to mid-50s) dominate film criticism. That same group, born primarily in the ’60s and ’70s, grew up on a lot of the content that’s being revived and rebooted today. Looking at IMDB’s list of the highest grossing films of this century so far, there are at least 12 (out of 25) that fall into Generation X’s wheelhouse. Those include Star Wars: The Force Awakens, numerous takes on Marvel and DC comics, and even the Transformers and James Bond films. All of these movies represent franchises that Generation X’ers grew up with—and thus, the same Generation X people who dominate film criticism can lend them proper context and boost their ratings. That’s not to say the films don’t have legitimate merit, but it stands to reason that popular perception is shaped by a population of critics inclined to enjoy them.
The Power Rangers Are No Different
One point that the video allows for in distinguishing between the series just mentioned and the Power Rangers is that the latter was more blatantly commercial. The Power Rangers series of the ’90s included characters that resembled action figures in motion, and many saw it as a means of selling toys, costumes, etc. But is there anything that isn’t blatantly commercialized about all of those Gen X-friendly franchises? Take a look at Halloween costumes later this fall and you’ll see countless imitations of Marvel, DC, and Transformers characters. Look through LEGO sets and other toys and you’ll see the same franchises. The same is true of gaming, with the options hosted on Betfair’s platform, where adults can play arcade and casino games with real money on the line, largely populated by superhero characters. You may find slot reels designed to attract your attention by way of putting Iron Man or Wolverine on the cover. Simply put, the same characters from this century’s most popular cinematic franchises are used to make money in all kinds of different ways. The Power Rangers are no more or less opportunistic.
We’ve Seen This Skepticism Before
Perhaps most interestingly, the video by Escapist Movies pointed out that when Generation X’ers were getting excited about Marvel and DC cinematic adaptations (and similar franchises), members of older generations were turning up their noses and expressing skepticism. To a Baby Boomer, the idea of a Thor film that costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make sounds utterly absurd; to a lot of Generation X comic enthusiasts, it sounds like a bonafide holiday. For this reason, above all others, it would be foolish, and slightly obnoxious, to discount younger Millennials’ enthusiasm for the coming Power Rangers film. There’s no telling how good it will be, or how much of an impact it will make, but younger folks have every right to be excited about it.