In recent years, television and cinema have been dominated by characters that are already familiar to most of their audience. Creating shows based on characters and stories that already have a fan base guarantees a certain amount of traffic and, now that a lot of the original audience are grown, helps to reboot the franchise for younger generations. It’s a model that’s proving successful for all kinds of brands. But it does put certain restrictions on the content created. For instance, consistently sticking to a child friendly rating restricted the choices creators have open to them when they want to address the adults watching.
The resounding success of Deadpool has opened the doors for more adult-oriented content based on comics and games and superheroes, and the upcoming Wolverine movie, Logan, looks set to take this trend to a more serious level.
In an interview with Polygon, producer and director Adi Shankar has expressed his hopes to make a similarly mature adaptation of Power Rangers. The project – that is, an R-rated animated series based on the original Power Rangers series to be broadcast on Netflix – is in very early development:
“It’s a complete retelling of the first three seasons. And it’s going to be really fucking dark. Darker than any other Power Rangers series.”
The connection to Netflix makes sense. It is, after all, developing quite a reputation for darkly interesting stories, from the gritter series set in the Marvel universe to Stranger Things. It is also prepared to support Shankar’s ideas, having him work on their upcoming Castlevania series. In return, Shankar relishes the innovative format Netflix provides for long form television:
“Netflix is doing what every other network should be doing. I’ve worked with almost every network and Netflix just gets it. The world we live in now has disrupted the idea of what entertainment is and Netflix gets it. If you look at what shows are like today, they’re long movies. It’s a format paradigm and I want to explore creating these types of new shows with Power Rangers.”
This isn’t a new idea, either. In 2015, Shankar produced a Power Rangers fan film co-written and directed by Joseph Kahn in which the Power Rangers are defeated by Megazord and the world has to deal with the fallout. Dark and undeniably aimed at an adult audience, it could offer a glimpse into what Shankar would do with a bit more freedom and budget.