Superheroes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages, but if you were a kid growing up in the 1990s, then chances are you probably wanted to be a member of the Power Rangers. Something about them just felt different compared to the average DC or Marvel badass. I recently had the opportunity to ask Power Rangers director Dean Israelite about the qualities that separate the Power Rangers from other major superheroes, and he explained that it all comes back to how relatable they are for audiences. He elaborated:
I think it's personal. Anyone who has ever been a teenager or is a teenager or is a kid kind of getting into that stage of their lives, I think can completely identify with these superheroes, and it feels like you can be one of those kids. It's not like one of those other superhero movies where, and by the way I love them, but where it feels so outside of my own reality. You have to be a billionaire entrepreneur, or you have to be a god from another planet. It's you and it's your friends, and it's about you being a superhero with your friends. And I think it's really intimate and personal in a way that other franchises aren't.
You do not need to be an expert in comic books to understand what Dean Israelite is saying about the overarching superhero mythology that we have come to expect from comic book movies. The Power Rangers director is obviously referring to icons of the superhero genre like Iron Man and Superman. While most superheroes have incredibly outlandish backstories, abilities, and resources that make them inherently distinct from audiences, the Power Rangers are different because of how average they are in their day-to-day lives. All it takes to become one is to be a "teenager with attitude." It does not matter if you are a jock like Jason, a nerd like Billy, or a basket case like Zack, each of these teenagers fits an archetype that average young viewers can understand and inhabit in their own lives. The powers are secondary.
This idea of major superheroes not being particularly relatable is a concept that comic books themselves have known about for quite some time. After all, the impetus for the creation of Robin in 1940 was actually to create a child character that comic book readers could relate to because Batman is neither physically nor mentally a hero that an average kid could ever genuinely empathize with and understand. The difference, in this case, is the fact that the Power Rangers are not sidekicks; they are designed from the ground up to be a team of teenage superheroes that audiences can relate to on a personal and intimate level. Now we will just have to wait and see whether or not the reboot can recapture that feeling.
Dean Israelite's Power Rangers will morph its way into theaters next week on March 24. Check out our 2017 movie premiere schedule for more information related to the rest of the major films slated to debut this year.