A Tribute to the Power Rangers on Their 20th Anniversary

Today is an important day in geek history for two reasons. Firstly, it's the birthday of legendary artist and the co-creator of many of Marvel Comics' most iconic characters, Jack Kirby. Despite Kirby's major influences on the comic book industry and the art world, this post isn't about him, as you probably realized from the title. But I did want to take a moment, tip my hat to him and say Happy 96th Birthday, Jack!

The purpose of this article is to recognize the 20th anniversary of a show that helped to define my childhood. Twenty years ago today, I sat at home during the tail-end of my summer vacation. I was 13 and just about to start 8th grade. But in the early afternoon, a new show began to air. I'd seen commercials for it, some weird hybrid of an old Japanese show and newly shot American footage about five teenagers with special powers and giant dinosaur-themed robots. Something called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Being a typical 13 year old, I thought it looked dumb. Just a lame kids show. But as the opening credits began to roll, there was something about it that just grabbed me and reeled me in.

I watched on an old black and white television, which I remember clearly because I thought that Kimberly was blonde the whole time. (I also developed a huge crush on the actress, Amy Jo Johnson, which led me to start watching Felicity later on. That...was a mistake.) Though the characters were older than I was, I felt like I related to them better; they had to deal with the difficulties of high school, like being on time for class and having to face bullies, but with the added excitement of being super heroes. At times, Power Rangers was what I expected; silly, schloky, and stupid. (I friggin' despised Alpha-5 from the beginning.) But that didn't deter me at all. I watched for the rest of the week, straight through to the first day of school. The only downside was that Power Rangers aired before I would get home from school. So I set the timer on the VCR so I wouldn't miss an episode.

I did it first.
And thus began my descent into Power Rangers fandom. I accepted it with aplomb, collecting everything I could get my hands on. Toys (the original Megazord and a 12-inch Goldar figure being my favorite), trading cards, comic books. The first purchase I ever made at a Wal-Mart was the VHS copies of the first five episodes. I even went so far as to create my own box-set of the Green Ranger Saga, Green With Evil, cutting all of the commercials from my taped copies, wrapping the box in white masking tape and drawing "cover art".

Eventually, the show lost its appeal to me, which happened right around the Turbo years. All of the actors that I started with had moved on and left the show, leaving me with strangers in colored spandex. I started making watching less of a priority and just stopped watching altogether. I boxed up my collectibles and put them in the garage. When I turned 24, I sold most of my Power Rangers stuff on eBay, an act that I regret now. (I eventually repurchased a Megazord from the 2010 rebranding of the original MMPR and proudly display that in my den.)

Did I try to recreate these battle scenes? Hell yeah, I did.
With the recent release of the show on Netflix, my love of the show returned. I gobbled up the first three seasons in a little over two weeks, moving on to the rest; Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, Power Rangers Zeo, and finally finishing Power Rangers Turbo. I've started to make my way through the rest of the seasons, an act that is more chore than fun. The charm really did leave the show after Zeo, making the later seasons tough to sit through. I'm currently in the middle of Time Force and really have a hard time finding the energy to sit through it.

But regardless of how the show derailed, the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers still holds a place in my heart. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid despite being outside of the show's target demographic. So I raise my glass to you, Power Rangers, and congratulate you on your first 20 years. Here's to 20 more.


My Thoughts on the Batfleck Debacle...

Last night, the internet exploded when the news was revealed that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man Of Steel. Many people are genuinely hesitant of an actor like Affleck taking on the role of the Dark Knight, including myself, however a vast majority of fans are just outright venomous over the idea, claiming it to be a mistake on the part of DC/WB and stating that Affleck would never be able to portray Batman the way they envisioned.

The thing is...people need to calm down.

Again, I am skeptical about this casting move. I have seen plenty of Ben Affleck movies and though I like a number of them, he hasn't proven to me that he can play a character as intense as Batman. However, I also said the same thing about Heath Ledger when it was revealed he would be playing the Joker. "The guy from 10 Things I Hate About You? There's no way he'll be able to do that part justice. Man, The Dark Knight is gonna be a complete disaster." But here we are, five years later, and I count The Dark Knight as one of my top-five favorite movies.

Most arguments are stemming from Affleck's portrayal of Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the 2003 movie Daredevil. To be quite honest, this is an unfair comparison. Yes, that movie was wildly underwhelming (I won't say bad because I did enjoy it) and Affleck's take on the character seemed more like a snarky high-schooler than a lawyer/crime fighter. But we also have to remember that he filmed that movie ten years ago. Actors can learn new things in their craft. They can adapt. And looking at Affleck's recent track record, it seems like he's done just that. Take Hollywoodland, for example. Affleck played George Reeves, the actor that played Superman in the 1950s. Affleck did a great job in that role, one that required him to play a more dramatic part than he was used to. He also directed and starred in Argo, which helps to reinforce the idea that he's learned how to act dramatically and understands how it can help move a film.

Using a movie that's a decade old as "proof" that an actor can't fulfill a film role is just silly. It would be like calling out Steven Spielberg for casting Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. "He's got that guy from The Money Pit in it. Yeah, Big was OK but there's no way he'll be able to pull off a serious war movie. He'll probably have a tub fall on him in the middle of Normandy Beach." Or shit, we can even point fingers at Matt Damon in that same movie. Ten years before Saving Private Ryan, Damon just finished his first film role as Steamer in Mystic Pizza. No one ever held that against him, did they? A decade is a long time to go between movies and actors can learn and grow within that time.

Let's also not forget about Chris Evans. Evans played Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, in The Fantastic Four and its sequel. No one would say that Evans did an amazing job as the character. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he was kind of annoying in both films. But he nailed the hell out of Captain America and that was the most important part.

We need to remember that making a movie is not a singular endeavor. It takes a lot of people to make a movie, from the writer to the director, producers and actors. It also takes a lot of people to fuck up a movie. Given that both Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder have proven themselves capable of handling the DC Comics properties, I really can't say that this decision is a bad one.

I am not saying that Affleck will be the definitive Batman but I'm also not saying him taking the role is the end of the world. Really, my point is just that everyone needs to relax. All in all, I just think everyone needs to stop making snap decisions about what could happen and just wait to see what does happen. Ben Affleck may be the best thing that could ever happen to the Batman franchise. You never know.

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