Lionsgate tried to fill the hole left by The Hunger Games franchise by teaming up with Saban to bring Power Rangers to the big screen. The film served as an origin story and franchise starter for a multi-picture series; this much was confirmed before the film even wrapped filming. However, the film debuted to mixed reviews and a poor box office turn-out; despite a strong opening weekend, the film’s domestic and international box office totals didn’t live up to expectations. Many have declared the sequel to be dead in the water, as there is little financially to justify Lionsgate returning to the franchise.
However, the film has attracted some die-hard devotees who are pushing for a sequel, despite the box office receipts. The film might be able to find a second life through Blu-ray, which in turn might give the studio reason to pursue a sequel. After all, other films have debuted to worse reviews and gone on to see sequels – albeit sequels with lower budgets. Star Trek: The Motion Picture is one notable example, which was followed by the smaller budgeted but far superior Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But the Power Rangers‘s budget was already on the lower end of the spectrum for a CGI-heavy action blockbuster, so it would be hard to cut back without the lack of money damaging the final product. It seems Power Rangers is doomed.
This is rather unfortunate. Despite suffering from the problems of being an origin story for five superheroes, the film wasn’t as terrible as some of the reviews made it out to be. It didn’t try to be anything more than a fun romp for fans, which makes sense. The Power Rangers are a group of characters who wouldn’t do well if they followed the “dark and gritty” reboot phenomenon. Instead, the film was lighthearted and optimistic – a welcome change from the more grim origin stories that have been popular in the past few years. The film reveled in it’s own ridiculousness; after all, it’s about five teenagers who all get superpowers from magic space rocks. There’s no way for it to be taken too seriously.
The film also benefited from a strong cast of newcomers who had good chemistry. While none of the performances were particularly Oscar-worthy by themselves, the cast worked well together and that chemistry helped the movie during the parts in which it lagged. The team actually felt like a team who liked each other, which was a relief from other team-up films in which they didn’t appear to like each other very much. While the adults in the film were hit or miss, especially Elizabeth Banks’ turn as Rita Repulsa, the Rangers themselves were all clearly having fun and delivered decent-to-strong performances. It would be interesting to see how they would develop in a sequel, since they all have a strong grasp of their characters.
The writers of the film also made numerous smart decisions with how to handle their characters, and that should be rewarded with the chance to develop them further. Consider the way the film handled Kimberly’s arc. Instead of having her exist to only be Jason’s love interest, they cut the moment in which the pair kissed, citing the test audience’s dislike of that particular scene and the way it reduced Kimberly’s character down to a love interest instead of a female lead in her own right. This definitely seems like a smart movie, as a romance would likely have felt forced and drawn attention away from the way Kimberly was developing on her own.
It would be impossible to talk about the strength of the film without bringing up the importance of its diverse cast. Without a doubt, it is the most diverse superhero film to grace the big screen. Only one of the main Rangers is white, and the film featured cinema’s first autistic and gay superheroes. There is no token character, but rather fully fledged characters that serve as powerful representation. The cast and crew even expressed interest in Tommy Oliver, the missing Green Ranger, being gender-swapped in the sequel, to balance the team. While diversity does not automatically mean a film is quality or that it deserves a sequel, it can be a powerful step forward in the right direction for representation. A sequel would give the chance for the cast to continue to develop and for the representation to continue to break new ground.
For all of Power Rangers‘ strengths, there are some very notable weaknesses; some truly terrible jokes and a rushed third act that needed work stand out. But worse films have received sequels, and Power Rangers does have a built-in fanbase, as well as a new generation of fans – even if it is relatively small right now. A sequel could make money, particular if it weren’t opening between box office juggernauts such as Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Lionsgate has not commented on the film’s reception, or said anything one way or another on a sequel, but the world needs a few more fun films that are cheesy and fun for the sake of it. Hopefully, Lionsgate will see the enthusiastic response and decide to roll the dice one more time on the franchise. The sequel might be the superior film and guarantee the franchise’s future, or it might deliver the same mediocre box office returns. However, the franchise deserves a second chance and a shot at the box office gold – if only to see a new Green Ranger on the big screen. Power Rangers 2, should it happen, could be the Power Rangers‘s version of Wrath of Khan. Let’s hope Lionsgate gives the film a chance before snuffing out that possibility.