INTERVIEW: Adi Shankar Talks Power Rangers, Captain America Is Offensive, Super Hero Beat Downs And More!
Now that the Power Rangers reboot has hit screens across the globe, it seems that the world is still interested in those morphin’ teens, which should come as no surprise to fans of the series. One of the Power Rangers’ biggest supporters is Dredd producer, Adi Shankar. When we last spoke with Adi, he had lots to say about his upcoming Castlevania adaptation. While excitement for that one continues to build, we caught up with Adi who shared his thoughts on the new version of the Power Rangers, why The Avengers are outdated, and why the X-Men will always be better than the heroes sitting at the Tower. We also tried to ask him about the rumor that he’s on the short list to direct the Sony Spider-Man villain spin-off film Venom but we advised by his publicist to not talk or ask any questions about that (we’ll let you think what means).
First and foremost, I do want to thank you for taking the time to talk today. So, Power Rangers. I know you’ve been a Power Rangers fan your entire life.
It was my second favorite show growing up.
Besides X-Men right?
I’m one of those people that if you’re not a fan of the original X-Men animated series, we probably aren’t going to get along very well. We should be ok.
(laughs) Yeah, totally. You know, that theme song was so ahead of its time.
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I have it as one of my ringtones.
Dude, I want to do that actually. That’s a great idea.
Yeah, I like it; it’s always fun to hear. So, what did you think about the new Power Rangers reboot?
It was perfect. It was like superheroes for people who like sci-fi.
It had that like futuristic tinge thing, with like a mystery element to it. It was pretty epic.
Yeah, I personally loved it. Now that being said, your Bootleg Universe Power Rangers – it’s one of the coolest short films in a very, very long time. Obviously, it’s a stark turn from the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that we watched as kids. Do you feel that dark turn had any sort of influence on the direction that Saban took with the reboot?
Oh yeah, absolutely! I mean, absolutely, right?
Do you feel that it’s just more the way films are heading these days? At least, with respect to comic book and YA television properties? It’s starting to get a little bit more R rated, a little bit more gritty in terms of everything. I mean, when you look at the success of let’s say, Deadpool or Logan; I mean, Deadpool’s not necessarily dark but just a little bit more violent. But, we are heading more in that direction. What do you think it is that’s leading us that way?
(Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man)
I’ll tell you what I think is going on. I think the internet has kind of exposed the world as not being this glossy, friendly place that the mainstream media has made us all think that it is. And the idea of Captain America in 2017 is kind of offensive. The idea of a bunch of white guys in a room sitting there trying to decide what the future of the world should look like is offensive to a lot of people. Maybe on a subconscious level. And the same thing happened in the comic books right? I mean, The Avengers and The Fantastic Four were so popular, they were so huge and they were kind of, like, everything. And then all of the sudden, the X-Men came along and everything that was cool about The Avengers started becoming kind of a joke, right? And that’s just history repeating itself. It’s like that moment when Todd [McFarlane] changed how Spider-Man moved and he changed the way that Spider-Man’s webbing was drawn. All of the sudden, everything that had come before that kind of felt really dated and silly.
And it’s history repeating itself in that context.
Right, basically, there are plenty of storylines and plots that we have already seen, so things do begin to feel a bit dated. When you look at, say, Marvel because they’re the most apparent there, they do have a very formulaic approach to pretty much every single one of their films. You pretty much know Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 and how it’s going to turn out. DC, they’ve kind of gone, obviously, the opposite direction and taken it to a darker place, and they are trying to surprise people. Do you believe that there is some sort of happy medium in there? Or do you think that one way or the other is better?
No, look, it’s all about diverse experiences. And they should all be able to co-exist, you know. There should be an endless flow of this stuff. There should be moments when all of a sudden, you know, dark and gritty is going to do better than bright and funny. But there’s room for everything. And one of the great things about comic books is they exist across every genre. Like, to lump the X-Men in with The Avengers for instance, is a complete….they both get kind of labeled superhero right?
But they’re so different. X-Men is superheroes for people who like sci-fi, for people who want stories about outcasts. So earlier, when I was saying like, you know, people find The Avengers’ mentality of ‘No, no, it’s on us to save the world’ coming from almost an elitist place. ‘We have all of these abilities so we’re going to do it’. The X-Men – they resonated because they weren’t necessarily trying to save the world. They were like, ‘Hold on. Everyone thinks we’re criminals. We’re not. So we need to become the face of this thing that we are, called mutants.’ And then, all of the sudden, there’s like crazy terrorist mutants that are blowing buildings up and the X-Men are trying to stop them. They’re like ‘don’t make things worse for us!’
Right. The mutants are basically just trying to live while The Avengers are trying to tell others how to live.
Exactly. Exactly. Bingo. You just literally hit the nail on the head.
I feel like a lot of times when I start talking about The Avengers that people just think I hate white people or something.
And it’s not that at all. I’m just hating on the fact that these are a bunch of dudes who are literally sitting in a tower owned by a billionaire, who’s constantly showboating and telling everyone how to live.
Yeah, shit’s getting a little too real with that isn’t it?
Yeah. That’s the problem. And then it’s like history repeating itself. It’s playing out in reality now. So again, the idea of Captain America is kind of offensive.
Now, you mentioned a moment ago that you feel that there is room for everything. I know at one point there was talk that fans may actually get a full length film featuring your Power Rangers in your Bootleg Universe. Is that something that may still come to pass, now that we’ve got the actual reboot out?
I can’t talk about that, my man. I apologize.
Okay, no worries. What is it about the Power Rangers that has kept them so popular for so long now?
Well, they were doing the Cinematic Universe… the Marvel Cinematic Universe thing way before Marvel Cinematic Universe existed. Right? It takes place in one continuous timeline for the most part. So, the Rangers keep popping up, old rangers come back (kinda cool that way). The visual aesthetic was so different to America at the time. And that aesthetic is now iconic.
It’s the same reason Spawn still iconic. It’s not like Spawn has the best story of all time. It’s a story that’s been told but Spawn’s look was just so iconic because Todd knew how to create this character that, visually, no one had any doubt about who this guy was. Like, that’s Spawn.
So, I think that they have a visual aesthetic that becomes iconic. It effectively immortalizes you.
So, in your bootleg universe then, and not being able to talk too much more about that, obviously there are a lot of stories out there. There are a lot of comics, there are a lot of movies, whatever. Do you think that we’ll ever see a mash-up of these characters within the Bootleg Universe where they can actually work together? Like are we going to see a Marvel and DC film, possibly? Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD, or something?
I’ve actually thought about that. And you know right now it feels like…you’ve got those fight videos on the internet you know?
And they do a really good job of that. It’ll be like Luke Skywalker fighting Spider-Man.
Right. Or Goku vs. Superman or something.
Right. And there’s a place for those. And those things are very popular. I would argue that in a lot of ways they’re more popular than the stuff I’m doing in terms of just sheer viewership. But, I’m actually curious though…I have a question for you.
I get covered a lot and I’m not an attention seeking dude. Right? But I get covered a lot. But the guys that make the fight videos don’t. Why is that? Is it because I also come from traditional media?
I would say so. I mean, when you’re producing movies like The Grey and Machine Gun Preacher, or Dredd, which, I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone that didn’t like Dredd, instead of Goku vs. Superman, obviously it gets you a lot more attention because you have a bigger platform at that point. A bigger audience base.
Could it be, also, that there’s an idea behind all of these bootlegs? There’s a point of view, there’s a different narrative and there’s a big idea whether it’s dealing with PTSD or the Power Rangers, or it’s like the idea that we’re glorifying this James Bond character, but like things aren’t going to end up well for us. Could it also be that there is an idea behind [the Bootleg Universe films]?
Absolutely. Personally, I’ve always had the opinion that it’s not the tale, it’s he who tells it. Say that you toss one of your bootleg ideas out to somebody else. What they come up with may not necessarily be in line with what you saw in your head when you had the idea. So the fact that you’re able to put those ideas into a cohesive product while still being able to entertain…I think that that’s a big deal. And not everybody can do that.
Okay. I buy that.
(Laughs).Alright, good. You know, I think that’s actually all of our time today Adi. But you know what? I really want to say thank you again man. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.
Yeah. No man, I love that we actually got to talk.