What I Learned: August 14

This week, I spend time in Tarrytown in a rental car listening to trap music, complete the lap that made me almost weep, learn that technology is not your friend and that being a workaholic is a better substitute for alcohol.

Saturday:

I’m up with the birds and armed with Apple Maps (which, fuck you by the way) I climb into rented Ford Focus and feel like I’m in a jet because I’m doing checks like a pilot. I have about 120,000 songs on an iPod and wind up listening to of all things…Fall Out Boy. Don’t judge me, it beat the radio at 7am.

It’s true what they say about driving, your mind completely blanks out and you focus more on piloting a massive machine through highways built years before you were a thought by people who didn’t think those roads would even be traveled for as long as they have been.

You get super philosophical.

I find parking relatively easy at 7:30am (I was in traffic to boot and DIDN’T drag race once it cleared up…) and run upstairs to make sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be. Again. My personal life, total shitshow, professional life sorta put together.

The team shows up and we load in for our epic journey to the most magical place on earth: the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown NY. While on the way, we encounter the fail that is Apple Maps.

Have you ever driven in near circles in the middle of a scenic part of a town and immediately think, we’re a car full of minorities, isn’t this is how horror movies start?

drive faster

I watch too many movies.

Anyways. We make a few turns and wind up where we’re supposed to be…fuck you Apple Maps…sincerely.

I’m about 5’7 which in the WNBA makes me a guard and probably a decent prospect; in the NBA that makes me the water girl. We arrive and check in and walk into the Liberty side of the basketball court.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been there before but I still kinda swoon because that’s what I do.

We land some hilarious interviews and shoot what could be the hit of our mini summer vacation.

We climb back into the car, strangely inspired by the entire day (it was two hours that felt like less than that which is saying something) get 5 Napkin Burgers (which is a miracle) and pile into the office for a late shift.

Sunday:

Even if you want to play a game of treat yo self, you still wind up being incredibly responsible and climb into the fray super early and with a box of bagels for your mom. You also want nothing more than to get another win in terms of getting that date to happen.

The date doesn’t happen.

The sobbing continues.

On the upside, we get two great videos lined up and good to go and I land another byline for work.

I learned that I have to master the art of multitasking.

Also. John Wick is awesome.

Adrienne Palicki, Bridget Reagan and Keanu Reeves carrying guns and being complete assholes. this is basically porn.

Monday:

Screaming matches over stupid things are always fun.

Driving around late at night is even more fun.

I tackled the FDR to the West Side Highway and like a superhero, sat and listened to Kid Cudi wondering about what the hell life is doing with me and my fate these days. I miss the opportunity to get Waffle for a drive around because Waffle being Waffle kept being Waffle and wiffled on me. I was tempted to be a creeper and sit in the car outside waiting but decided that I can’t keep reeking of desperation. The fact that Waffle would’ve gotten in the car with me for fun while I said nothing and blasted music and driven around until drop off at work. These are the things that make me feel all kinds of funny to be honest. I learned that I should just trust my lack of impulse control when it comes to these kinds of situations. Especially when I want to share views like this. IMG_2932

My drive looked nothing like this but I did in fact blast Steve Aoki, so I guess you could say, we were on track.

Tuesday:

So I had rum and cokes.

Wednesday:

Multitasking is multi-taxing but it’s done and honestly, I keep telling myself, I was unemployed last year. Stop bitching so fucking much.

I mean it’s one thing to be overwhelmed and completely burned out but it’s a whole other level if you’re completely like…miserable.

I can’t be miserable.

My brain can’t process that correctly.

My brain shorts out actually.

I know I’m due for a meltdown but I’m also due for an upgrade so I guess you have to burn things down to build something new from it.

I wind up in Jim Hanley’s Universe and have rather interesting conversations about some of the plot fuck ups in X-Factor (which I have admittedly not been keeping up with) but apparently, it’s a big nasty soap opera. I love the fact that out of many of the shops that I’ve been to, this is the only one that actively keeps you in the store with shit talk and comic gossip rather than aisle after aisle of things to look at and maybe consider buying. There’s a strange comfort in the nerd herd. Unsurprisingly, I pick up a bunch of titles that will take me until NEXT WEEK, to read but fuck it, I mean it’s what happens when you work; you get to do things you love.

One day I will write and work for Marvel.

It’s on the list of things to do before I die.

So’s a trip to London.

Fuck it, let’s do both.

Thursday:

Accomplished many a thing, including successfully feeding myself at a decent hour, addressing stuff and things and planning planning planning.

I wound up getting a preview screening pass to see Straight Outta Compton through work which was sweet. It’s insane that all this happened in my lifetime and I’ve basically grown up with this music; I lived through the of many anti-establishment movements fueled by music and made by people who just wanted their voices heard and the vision to just make shit happen. That doesn’t work anymore does it? That unyielding sense of success and self confidence that is needed to take what sounds like a failing idea or a longshot and make it actually happen. Think about it. Ice Cube was the hardest rapper in the game (still is) at the time and just transitioned because he just wanted to do it. Dre just wanted to make music that didn’t suck and E just had the momentum to bring everyone together. It’s probably one of the best made music biopics and some of the moments that happen made me oddly nostalgic for the time where my mom said I couldn’t listen to Metallica, NWA, Public Enemy and when she caught on, The Beastie Boys. Kids aren’t told ‘that’s bad for you’ and if they are, they don’t give a flying fuck. Go see it, it’s worth it.

It’s also creepy how damn near EXACT O’Shea Jackson Jr. resembles his father.

Best cosplay ever.

Friday:

For Whom The Bell Tolls indeed.

In on time despite a late start, doing a bunch of things for the next three days and eagerly anticipating…I dunno…a small moment to think, read a comic book and do more writing because I owe some people some of my letters rearranged into words.

Friday:

I had a salad. That’s not interesting until you realize and understand that my fat ass wants a burger and booze and to be left alone with Waffle on a romantic dinner date where all we do is talk shit and laugh at things.

I’m seeking a gal pal at this point.

An Angie to my  Peggy.

A Sandy to my Danny.

A Laura to my Carmilla.

Basically I’m just rehashing old feelings.

The weekend should be spectacular. Stay tuned.

Suicide Squad

Commence panic.

Still too early to call it movie of 2016 but…

I’m in love with Margot Robbie

Hey girl

Flipping through a few times as one is want to do while obsessing over a trailer, you catch glimpses of a few key moments in Harley’s life. It appears that she’s ambushed in an operating room, strapped to a table and subsequently…well I hope she isn’t raped. It seems that The Joker has her and has begun is brainwashing process with Doctor Harleen Quinzell.

We also get a great look at Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang and his sweet as mustache as well as Will Smith’s smooth motherfucker Deadshot.

Kitana gets some love as does Killer Croc, Diablo and The Enchantress; Slipknot is nowhere to be found but then again, I was too busy staring at Harley.

I’m still not a fan of the tattoos despite Harley’s designs being one of my favorites…I can do without the facial tattoos to be honest but that shit kicking grin…sigh.

Let’s see what happens.

Still think in terms of world building and merging, Marvel has a leg up on the competition.

Suicide Squad opens next year.

May The Dork Be With You

Truly in the great pantheon of nerdom, there is no greater turbo pun besides the beloved It’s Gonna Be May than May The 4th.

Star Wars was released in 1977 and here we are, decades later, still making “That’s no moon, that’s your momma” jokes and gargling like Wookies in the morning. Did George Lucas, the all-father of the universe anticipate this level of absolute nerd? Nope. Not at all. He had the foresight to retain global and domestic rights for the films (before selling to Disney who now owns everyone’s chlidhood FYI) and copyright the term DROID but this level of celebration?

Nope.

According to the official Star Wars page:

One of the earliest known records of “May the 4th” used in popular culture is in 1979, as described here by author Alan Arnold while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm:

Friday, May 4

“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

Once the Internet allowed Star Wars fans around the world to connect with one another, May the 4th soon became a grassroots tradition each year, with fans online and offline proclaiming it “Star Wars Day.”

While the idea of May the 4th did not start with Lucasfilm, the film company that created Star Wars has fully embraced the spirit of fandom that makes the day so special. StarWars.com as well as the official Star Wars social media channels (hashtag #StarWarsDay) help spread the word and showcase fan activity. More and more official partners have offered sales, giveaways and exclusives, and have hosted parties and other activities to mark the day.

May the 4th kicks off a season of celebration, particularly since the month of May has always been important to Star Warsfans. The six live-action movies of the Star Wars saga debuted in May (starting with the original Star Wars on May 25, 1977). The month of May includes George Lucas’ birthday (May 14, 1944), and has been the traditional start date of the popular Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World Resort.

With the exciting launch of a new trilogy of movies beginning with Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming in the near future, this day to celebrate the saga and its amazing fans is certain to become even bigger each year.”

It’s become a holiday of sorts with bigger and better things happening every year.

Y’know like a giant light up Millennium Falcon built in less than 20 parsecs (basically fuck you Kessel Run)

Star Wars is as banged up as the ships the films made famous. Sure, it’s battered, scraped, duct taped together but it’s your battered hunk of space junk and you’ll be damned if someone slanders it. That’s why May 4th, the mad up holiday about a made up bunch of people in a galaxy far far away is so much fun; it’s the hokey thing you wanted to believe in because it made the world you lived in seem better. The Force, Jedi, Sith, space pirates, bounty hunters, bun hair dos the whole thing just felt like a place that was real enough to feel welcoming but still made you wary of all the scum and villainy you see in the spaceport. Or the bus depot. While the world may not be perfect, the SW universe reflected that in a way that most movies don’t; where heroes, villains, outlaws and vandals are everyone’s favorite kind of people. Perhaps the most telling thing about the SW universe is that it endured two full generations with no signs of slowing down.

I was in seventh grade when they re-released the trilogy to theaters (with the blast ring that wasn’t in the original…so basically I unsaw what I had seen at the age of 7, the perfectly good explody Death Star, ring free) and was hooked. My mom saw it in it’s original release in ’77. Thought it was good and that was it. there you have two generations of viewers (one who just never let go)

I’m actually sitting in an office, all young professional n wotnot wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, Star Wars (Han and Chewie) vans and my New Era cap (which is respectfully off even though rules are pretty lean here) This morning, venerable Disney morning money maker Good Morning America previewed the cover of Vanity Fair featuring the first look at Episode VII: The Force Awakens. 

I hate mornings but honestly, I was up and eating a peanut butter sandwich and ugly crying at the sight.

Shot by famed photographer, Annie Leibowitz the cover and accompanying piece covers the super secretive process behind J.J. Abrams’ lensflare world we’re familiar with, characters we haven’t met and oh yeah, fucking X-WINGS BEING FLOWN BY CUBANS. Oscar Issac, on hot streak so hot (hot damn) he’s basically slowly cornering the sci-fi nerd market, one move at a time. (Sidebar, I’m excited he’s the second latino in space…Jimmy Smits was the first Puerto Rican. I’ve always wanted to go so I’d be like, third although, Smits’ Bail Organa was the adoptive father to Leia Organa so technically…Princess Leia is Puerto Rican) In any case…

The Star Wars team knows the power of their Star Wars, even going so far as to ensure any and all information related to what is going to be a bigger release than Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron (lengthy damned title) to maximize on complete and total nerd meltdown. Perhaps it speaks to the power of The Force that after so many years, so many missteps and Jar Jar Binks, the love is still there for the franchise started by a guy who basically took on a complicated dare.

Let that be a lesson to you all: If someone says that you can’t, do it.

May The Force Be With You.

Denzel Washington Is The Punisher, You Just Didn’t Know It

This Friday, super bae Denzel Washington returns to screens in The Equalizer, your standard tough guy R rated action movie designed to woo you back to the movies y’know since you never went back after seeing Guardians of The Galaxy. Now, I love me a good action movie, I love comic book movies, I love Denzel Washington so this is a win win for me but something struck me about the trailer, take a look:

A man with a past who just can’t let injustice fly and proceeds to right the wrongs with all the guns and bombs, protecting an innocent girl from a ruthless violent, vaguely Eastern European criminal? It sounds too comic book-y to be real, then again, Denzel Washington has been playing Marvel Comics vigilante Frank Castle aka The Punisher for the past ten years and no one noticed it.

Behold, the truth behind Denzel as The Punisher and why Hollywood can get this archetype right but Marvel, who owns the title, keeps getting wrong.

2004 Man on Fire

Dakota Fanning is literally a child in this movie and Denzel is her body guard. A quiet man with skills that make him a nightmare for people…oh…wait wrong movie.

There is a great line about his character, Creasey, his art is death. He brings pain and disaster to everyone in his way, the way you’d want Frank Castle to knock the living shit out of everyone in his way. In a stand out scene, he basically straps a dude to a car, drenches him in gasoline and plays a very dangerous game of 20 questions.

A lot of the real heinousness happens in cars in Mexico so, that’s something to look out for.

This is one of the first time where Denzel gets all grim death dangerous and it works. It so works.

2010 The Book of Eli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKK7LmywKOQ

Sure it didn’t of very well, the ending left people feeling a little let down and then there’s the whole iPod still works in the apocalypse thing but at the heart of it is a guy, just trying to live and protect Mila Kunis and deliver a book way past its due date to the library. Here we see Denzel in true dingy duster, western gunslinger badassery and one can truly appreciate the fact that a guy who is actually The Punisher would survive the madness of a desert America with mean Gary Oldman.

2012 Safe House

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IfQY4fNcnw

The ULTIMATE dude with a mission movie finds Denzel needing to get out of dodge quickly.

Tobin Frost is a bad bad man trying to stay ahead of the guys trying to lock him up and being chased by everyone’s favorite smart ass, Ryan Reynolds. This one has a few pretty good action sequences and a nice little twist towards the end, making it a little more like a bad guy gets the win movie than a vigilante saving the day movie HOWEVER, it does land in the Denzel is The Punisher with some of the hardest fight scenes and clever escape tricks this side of an old episode of Burn Notice.

2013 2 Guns

This one may be a cheat since he’s a good guy, posing as a bad guy with the added bonus of Mahk Whalbaghhh BUT, he still plays with the bad guys well enough to make them believe he’s one of them all in the game of saving the day. He plays rough to get the win. While I haven’t seen this movie (I know I know) it still lands in the vigilante have gun will travel and do what’s gotta get done category essential in arguing that Denzel is really Frank Castle is really The Punisher.

So just here’s the real question, given that Hollywood loves a good vigilante revenge movie, why is it that Marvel Studios has yet to produce a decent Punisher movie that hits all the notes of the comic book? The Punisher has basically had one of the longest runs in Hollywood  in the form of Denzel Washington action movies. You can say that yeah, Liam Neesan probably has a longer run but he keeps playing the father who’s kid somehow manages to keep getting taken so he doesn’t count. Especially when he’s Qui-Gon Jinn, Ras Al Ghul and the guy who fought wolves with mini bar bottles strapped to his knuckles; let him be that guy. Denzel is the guy you call when someone needs a complete ass kicking who will then strut off to a Motown song you will immediately Shazam upon hearing it.

In the same year Man on Fire was released, Thomas Jane’s 2004 Punisher movie made it’s debut.  While not terrible it lacked the bite that the above movies all seem to have, as though the producers were afraid to make a violent movie with a comic book character because of the fear that people have with alienating the presumed under age audience. Despite having an R rating, some of the action sequences lacked the grimness that Man on Fire had, even using the standard cut away bloodspatter in some scenes to imply that violent justice has been served. I’m not blood thirsty or a fan of mega violence but if you’re going to make a movie about a guy who does really insane things because his family was murdered, you can go ahead and show it, we know what we’re getting into with these movies. Punisher WarZone, the movie that pretended that the first movie never happened was even wilder with the theatrics, going so deep into comic book that the R rating was justified because Dominic West’s character Jigsaw’s head explodes like a Gallagher watermelon. Both movies are regarded as failures, despite their cult appeal and the success of other lesser titles in Hollywood both on TV and in films.

Marvel shows no interest in launching another film with Frank which is fine, we’ve been watching him this whole time.

The Fast and Furious Franchise Is A Superhero Movie

Warner Brothers unveiled the logo for the longest title in superhero movie history, Batman vs Superman:Dawn of Justice. Naturally, the internet was all over it, bagging on the decisively long title, the terrible logo and the confusion about WHY justice needed to be dawning to begin with.

It looks like when you smash a bug with a sneaker that has a pretty snazzy design on the sole

 

While promoting X-Men Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer sounded off on why the varied success of the Fox version of the Marvelverse in comparison to the Disney Marvelverse:

It’s very different universes. The appeal is different and to try and do the same thing… this in an ‘inbetweequel’, OK, of two ensemble films, Avengers and the Marvel movies are individual franchises based on major characters that’s why there are some Marvel characters in Avengers that don’t have their own movie, because I don’t know if they had their own movie anyone would be that interested.

DC/Warner Brothers have the unenviable task of taking beloved superheroes and making them work as a team, without the padding time of being able to launch standalone series in the same way Marvel launched their properties. DC essentially left their bags of money on Bats and Supes doorstep and walked away quietly, banking on the logo recognition and ability to sell millions of branded merchandise, not focusing on building an experience or enhancing their films in the way that Marvel has built out their titles. DC’s TV properties, by the way, have successfully introduced Green Arrow to the masses following the micro Justice League run in the later seasons of Smallville; Arrow, the Smallville spinoff is launching The Flash this fall. Both of these characters as well as Wonder Woman, who is yet to successfully launch in any medium, are members of  The Justice League but there is no word on whether they will appear in the film itself, Wonder Woman is confirmed but what she will actually do, if anything, remains to be seen. The DC/Warner Brothers team have to decided to take a group of people that are relatively unknown in the general movie going population and make them characters worth caring about while sharing the screen with Batman and Superman.

Sure, Marvel had standalone films before launching The Avengers but that has more to do with world building, telling a good story. It can be outlandish, seem like the strangest trip known to man but you CARE about where you’re going and that’s why movies are so good.

The Fast and Furious series may well be the finest piece of cinematic superhero storytelling we will see on screen.

The first movie, The Fast and The Furious centered around wildly attractive FBI Agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) infiltrating the allegedly impossible to infiltrate illegal street racing in Los Angeles via local family lunk Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his band of import and muscle car driving goons. The movie is a candy coated tribute to the car porn dreams we all have while the characters have delight they are impossibly campy car movie with one liners, tight shirts, early 2000s rap-rock soundtrack and the emergence of the new action star in Vin Diesel.

2 Fast 2 Furious would follow, starring Walker and adding model/singer/fine smile owner Tyreese Gibson, the Mouf of The South rapper Ludacris and Eva Mendez to the cast as supporting characters in the growing sexy race car business. Set in Miami, the movie ups the stakes with drug trafficking, 80s level villains and a pretty intense chase sequence. These characters would serve to bolster the further the legacy of the Fast franchise, despite lacking Diesel in the lead role.

Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift would take the franchise across the world to Japan with a completely new set of characters. If you watch this one, you’ll see where the superhero element starts to take shape. Sean leaves Alabama to live with his father, stationed in Japan to avoid a lengthy jail sentence after driving too fast and too furiously through his small town. While there, he meets another American transplant in Twinkie, played by rapper Bow Wow, who’s got a thing for Jordans and street racing. The duo connect with local drifter (driver) Han and they naturally master the racing. What’s interesting about this is that Han references a racer he met in the States, a racer he never names but another character meets at the end of Tokyo Drift that brings us back to the States with The Fast and Furious.

We return to Los Angeles, where it all began where Brian and Dom are trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Letty, Dom’s girlfriend. They bring it back to the core group and reintroduce characters that appeared in the previous films, building Dom and his crew with a wild concoction of characters that support the cause of…driving fast and furiously. The races are bigger, the fights more drawn out and the shirts tighter. The film was even billed as New Model, Original Parts. It reinvigorates a franchise after Tokyo Drift which felt a bit out of left field for some audiences, despite having a tighter storyline than the other movies. The cars are extensions of the characters, as easily identifiable as a Bat Signal, Superman’s S (correction, the symbol for Hope).  You cringe when you watch them smash (these are seriously beautiful cars), when they appear just in the nick of time, you’re swept up in the emotion of the moment of these characters doing something insane.

By the time Fast 5 is released, you’re willing to accept every type of madness this series will throw at you and by the movie’s last act, you really do. This time around, Dom and his team are being hunted down by arguably the biggest superhero of all, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. They do not make shirts tight enough for this man. The team wind up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil veritable Robin Hoods in a city run by a corrupt official with Johnson’s Hobbs hot on their heels. Without spoiling much, let’s just say, you will be hard pressed to find a better argument for American made muscle cars and their engine blocks than when you watch them literally break the bank.

Fast and Furious 6 kicks up the entire series into overdrive from the first frame, hammering you with visuals, racing, snappy comebacks and yes, tight shirts. Adding women’s UFC fighter Gina Carano to the mix as Hobbs’ new partner joining Dom’s team of international super racers, the cheesy plot includes amnesia, character retcon and this scene:

The series that started as a wink and nod to the old racer movies of the 50s spawned into a massive multi-million dollar blockbuster by following the same simple elements that we as an audience love to see in a good popcorn movie: characters we like in improbably scenarios, doing insane things because it’s the right thing to do. Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw is on his Bond-villian A game against Team Torretto, giving sleezeball realness in skinny jeans, rolling around in an Aston Martin because why not, this is London and everyone drives luxury cars and using every type of fancy new technology at his disposal. As the above sequence shows, there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing a casually roar down the highway and nary a fig given for reality. You as the viewer are so engrossed in how perfectly impossible the entire scenario is, you’re at the edge of your seat, jaw open and wondering how the hell are they going to get out of this mess.

Naturally the final act is fan service and again, forgoing spoilers, it is something you would expect from a superhero movie.

Death is defied, physics ignored and shirts are tight.

What makes the franchise work at its base is how likable each character introduced are, despite occasionally bad dialogue, they are personalities that you may know. They can provide a bit of reassurance in finding yourself as a person in the world, much in the same way a superhero can inspire you to strive for more. The series as a whole combines impossible elements with improbably scenarios and impractical uses for cars but in a bizarre way, it all works. It’s the same reason we believe that Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern ring combined with his imagination makes him the defender of Earth as part of the Lantern Corps. It’s the same reason that we believe that Tony Stark’s Iron Man is a valuable piece of machinery. It’s the reason why X-Men were formed, why The Avengers avenge and what the Justice League stands for. We want to know that a group of people with a goal can accomplish anything, whether it’s legal or illegal, in tight shirts with aliases and winning, even if we have to suspend our belief.

Gal Gadot, Giselle in the FF series, was cast as Wonder Woman in the aforementioned Superman/Batman movie. A former Isreali soldier turned model, the actress has tall boots to fill as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. With so many calling her physique and appearance into question, Gadot has the unique opportunity to cross from regular car hero to actual super hero. How much of her we’ll see is still up in the air, but the hope is that we’ll actually get to see something special. Vin Diesel is the voice of Groot in Marve’s upcoming Guardians of The Galaxy. It doesn’t get more gangsta superhero than a talking tree. If two actors from these films are already comic book movie canon, accepting the characters and plots to the FF series can’t be all that far fetched now can it?

The Fast movies argue that comic book movies have a lot to strive for. They have to find the heart and soul in one character that can understandably, comfortably and confidently bring together a group of misfits, crooks, rogues and smartasses to convincingly make the mission one worth doing. You have to care about what’s going on, who they are and the journey you’re willing to go on when it comes to spending hard earned money on any of these big budget movies this summer and every summer to come. They don’t necessarily have to wear spandex and have super powers but if they’re attractive and wearing tight shirts it’s all good.

Mighty Morphin Diversity Rangers

It’s been said that television reflects our society’s evolution and cultural diversity; art imitates life and life imitates art. Many of us were fortunate to grow up during the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers craze of the 90s and with the recent announcement the series was being rebooted, the internet went into a frenzy not unlike the series initial run.

It was an innocent time where we jumped from our couches and high kicked the ever-loving snot out of a playmate (or an unfortunate sibling) until we were put on time out for knocking them over. The Rangers helped us develop an early interest in martial arts, in space travel and appreciate the art of kaiju monster movies of the 50s and 60s. The Rangers reveled in everything camp, super camp and mega camp but we never watched without learning a valuable lesson: anyone can and should be a hero.
The legend is simple: Jason, Billy, Trini, Kimberly and Zach were all high school friends are handpicked by floating head Zordon to be the guardians of Earth. With the help of their nifty Morphers and Zordon’s sidekick Alpha 5, they protect Earth from Rita Repulsa.

The initial Power Ranger uniforms were red, black, yellow, pink, blue with dinosaurs assigned to each.  The mysterious green and later fabulous white would join the team later, played by the same character. Fairly basic color palette but an interesting connection to how we are trained to respect the world: “I don’t care if they’re red yellow, blue or green with white polka dots, you have to respect them.” The truth is, you have to respect the Rangers because they were anyone and in essence everyone.

Like any good bad guy, Rita had her share of special friends. She kept a close circle of weirdos; Goldar, Squat and Baboo were the best yes men an evil space woman could ask for but no villain is complete without disposable henchmen. Where Master Shredder had his Foot Clan, Rita had her Putties, drab gray clay soldiers that were baked in a giant kiln and shipped to Earth to frequently bother the and torment the tax paying citizens of Angel Grove. They made strange gobble sounds as they kicked punched and flipped around being pains in the ass. They weren’t the best henchmen since a simple kick punch combo or fancy dropkick to the chest would destroy them but you get what you pay for and Rita always had a pile of them.

If the putties didn’t do their job, Rita would send in her ringer, some terrifyingly warped version of a Disney mascot flopping around downtown somewhere, causing problems until Zordon and the Rangers caught wind of them. Sometimes they were giant fish, creepy birds, or amalgamations of the stuff you found at the bottom of your junk drawer and if things got too rough, Goldar would volunteer as tribute. They were always conveniently sent to the middle of downtown Angel Grove, where they could knock over as many things as possible. Rent rates in Angel Grove must’ve been super cheap.

The Rangers would respond in kind with their hyper kinetic Morphin sequence, summoning their respective Zords and naturally, they would win. For all it’s cheesy special effects, awkward cuts, bad dialogue and terrible fight sequences, the Might Morphin Power Rangers gave us as kids something to cheer for.

Each of these members of the Rangers represent a segment of our lives that is commonly found in high schools, community centers and in the streets. Any one of us could be a spandex clad superhero pilot a Zord and save the world. We see that people have to band together to defeat common enemies, no matter how ridiculous they looked, because we were chosen to defend the Earth. They had the qualities needed to be a great leader, a warrior and champion for change. They knew of the Rangers but had no clue who they were, despite five kids wearing suspiciously color coordinated outfits to school. Those selected to be Rangers were all unique in their skills and had distinct personalities that almost mirrored the traits exhibited by their respective Zords.  It was a formula that worked.

The next crop of Rangers were shocked when Zordon pulled them to the headquarters and told them of their collective destinies, their Morphers handed to them by the same people they passed in the halls at school. By the time the series hit fever pitch and the Might Morphin Power Rangers movie was released, the Rangers had decidedly undergone a significant change in their starting line up. Kimberly, Trini, Jason and Zach left the team and were replaced by Aisha, Rocky and Adam. Tommy, who had been the villainous Green Ranger was now the heroic White Ranger and defacto leader of the team. Their Zords also changed. Gone were the dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers, replaced with bears, cranes, tigers and frogs. Interestingly enough, where the first Zords represented strength, size and power, the new Zords mirrored unique fighting styles and personalities. Tommy still got the best Zord; he went from the Green Dragon (which was basically MechaGodzilla but sshh) to the White Tiger Zord and a Morpher named Saba that spoke to him. Tommy was easily the favorite.

Yet despite the change in guard, the Rangers carried on with their core mission, defend the Earth, be all-inclusive, seek change, evolve and wear spandex. Just as the Rangers had changed, so had their enemies.  If Darth Vader was allowed to be restriction free evil, he may have been Lord Zedd, a power mad flayed man with a massive Z crown who took over the command as meanest guy in space. He played no games.  Zedd’s first order of business: He violently banished Rita Repulsa. He then rebranded the Puddies, as Z-Puddies, who were still the same putties with a Z on their chests, and commanding a bigger fleet of monsters.

He aligned himself with the bearded Purple Menace Ivan Ooze, who had managed to enslave the world’s adults (well, only Sydney, Australia’s adults) with his purple goo, Ivan’s Ooze. It seems like all is lost; it’s the perfect metaphor for what it’s like growing up. Here you are, young and working in the world only to be consistently knocked on your bottom almost daily. You want to give up but you can’t and won’t because there are far too many people depending on you and your team is willing to carry you though. The change in Rangers and Zords signifies the need to grow, let go, find yourself and trust that you are stronger than you feel.

Having struggled to find their new identities, destroy old Zords and become new heroes, the Rangers successfully defeat Ivan, send Zedd back to Rita’s old castle and have morphed (yes, that’s a pun) two different versions of the team into one cohesive unit.

This movie, while sounding simple, ultimately sets up the next chapters of the Power Rangers-verse. Since it’s launch in the States, the Power Rangers franchise has undergone dozens of changes, evolutions and developments that has taken it lightyears away from the original series but at it’s core, it’s still a series that encourages diversity, acceptance, teamwork and courage. While mainstream media seems to struggle with pan-ethnic casting, the Power Rangers have been flexible in casting ethnicities and genders in roles of leaders, villains and heroes. It is one of the few series on television that tells viewers, no one cares what you look like, you’ve got something that we need and we want you. That type of inclusion in a series can drastically change the way a child sees the world and subsequently create a real world hero from a basis of fantasy.  Granted, when Zach and Trini were serving as the black and yellow Rangers respectively, one had to wonder if it was intentional that the African American ranger was the black Ranger and the Asian-American Ranger was yellow. The kids were all different, male, female, black, white, they were all kids that represented the best of the human race when it came to the wild world of being a Power Ranger and they reflected the kids who obsessed over the series.

Despite poor costume to ethnicity ratios, each of the subsequent teams that would form under the many titles in the power ranger titles) feature racial and societal differences amongst the rangers exhibiting the same type of strengths and team ingenuity that made the originals such an effective squad. They’ve dropped the ball a few, okay, a dozen times, with newer updates to the Rangers mythology, the concept remains the same: Take kids that you would never expect to band together to fight in the protection of mankind, put them in spandex, have them run around in suits and be awesome.

Changing who we associate ourselves with can broaden our world views, accepting that inside every nerd, jock, smartass and gymnast is a hero and of course, the most important lesson of all…every time is Morphin time.