The latest iteration of the Power Rangers TV show, Power Rangers Dino Super Charge, is now airing on the small screen – while elsewhere, Lionsgate and Saban are on the verge of starting production on a new big screen adaptation of the property, with Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) set to direct from a script by the screenwriting duo of Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (Thor, X-Men: First Class). Thus far, it appears the project will in essence be a reboot of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series from the early 1990s, with new versions of the Mighty Morphin characters Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, and Zack; aka, the first team of Power Rangers and “teenagers with attitude.”
Following Lionsgate/Saban’s confirmation that the upcoming Power Rangers movie will feature the main characters from the Mighty Morphin TV show, it was reasonable to assume the Rangers team will face-off against the best (?) known Rangers antagonist, Rita Repulsa, and her minions (see: Goldar, Squatt, Finster, and so forth) in Israelite’s film. Well, now the role of the infamous alien witch has been formally filled.
Lionsgate/Saban has now confirmed (via the official Power Rangers Twitter account – see below) that Elizabeth Banks will be playing Rita Repulsa in the upcoming Power Rangers movie. Banks, whose most recent onscreen work includes supporting roles in the Hunger Games and Pitch Perfect franchises, has shown a greater interest in directing than acting of late, having called the shots on Pitch Perfect 2 and committed to helming Pitch Perfect 3 next – not to mention, she is now loosely attached to direct such in-development projects as the Charlie’s Angels movie reboot as well as the Red Queen film adaptation. However, the chance to play an over the top villain (whose ridiculous fashion sense rivals that of Banks’ Effie Trinket) was seemingly too enticing for her to pass on.
The Rita Repulsa character has been brought to life by several people in the past; the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series first used footage of Machiko Soga as Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger villain Witch Bandora to portray Rita, with her English voice performed by Barbara Goodson, before eventually Carla Perez took over the role in the Power Rangers In Space TV series and Julia Cortez tackled the role in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. It is expected that the 2017 Power Rangers movie will go further with its iteration of Rita Repulsa and re-imagine her appearance so that she looks a bit less… well, goofy than in Rangers TV shows and films past. In fact, according to a previous rumor, Banks as Rita Repulsa could look something like this:
A huntress. A striking, yet subtly alien-looking woman. She carries a metallic staff topped with a distinctive crescent shape. Advances with a soldier’s confidence, guided by some sort of compass…
The new versions of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers‘s title characters – which are going to be played here by relative newcomer Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott (The Martian), RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Ludi Lin (Monster Hunt), and pop music star Becky Gomez in Israelite’s movie – are likewise expected to be more emotionally-grounded in terms of their personalities, compared to their predecessors. Israelite has similarly indicated that he’s aiming for a “playful yet mature” tone in the vein of Marvel Studios’ comic book adaptations; that comparison feels all the more appropriate, seeing as Power Rangers should be the closest thing to a full-blown superhero film that Liosngate will have released in modern times (and was even scripted by a pair of writers with a fair amount of experience working within the superhero genre to boot).
Power Rangers opens in U.S. theaters on March 24th, 2017.