A legal battle may be brewing over a highly polished work of gratuitous fan fiction, and many suspect heads will roll.
That vision, showcased in a short teaser film titled Power/Rangers, portrays the Rangers as a psychologically troubled and ultimately doomed group of dystopic commandos. Think Starship Troopers meets Watchmen.
Needless to say, Power/Rangers hasn’t gone down well with Haim Saban, the billionaire entrepreneur who holds the Power Rangers license. Saban threatened a lawsuit on Feb. 25th, one day after the video’s release. As a result, the video vanished from Vimeo and YouTube on Thursday.
Power/Rangers isn’t new territory for Adi Shankar, who has produced filmic reimaginings of the Punisher and Judge Dredd. Kahn, by contrast, is best known for directing music videos for the likes of Britney Spears and Taylor Swift.
Kahn expressed frustration over his short being taken down across the web, telling Deadline:
I hope they come to an awareness of how modern pop culture works. The audience will pay for the franchise, but they want to play with it as well. You can’t just dictate that these are the things you are going to watch in the way we want you to watch it. That’s not the way society works anymore. If you want the support of the modern fandom, you need to let them participate.
Shankar also issued a press release expressing his own disappointment:
I set out to make this film because I am a childhood fan of the Power Rangers. As children our retinas are burned with iconic images and as we grow older these images come to represent crucial moments within the trajectories of our own lives. This film is a homage to the original creators of the Power Rangers, and a parody of a television series we all grew up loving.
Who knew a fake teaser could generate so much conflict?
As interesting as Shankar and Kahn’s interpretation is, let’s face the fact that the “dark reimagining” thing has been done to death and has been, arguably, mainstream since the release of Michael Bay’s Transformers.
This also raises the issue of fan fiction. What makes Power/Rangers stand apart from other such works is its production quality. Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek may not be Hollywood A-listers, but they’re still a grade above the talent you’d find in most bootleg movies.
This was a well-produced short, and although the concept is silly, the plot so-so and the climax comical (at best), the trailer is no doubt aesthetically refined – and that blurs the line between amateur fiction and professional infringement.
And regardless of the prospect of a legitimate lawsuit, this new found publicity will likely have us see more of the Power Rangers franchise (for better or worse).