power rangers casts elizabeth banks

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a bad show. You liked it when you were a kid and remain fond of it now because nostalgia is nice and comforting, but let’s not pretend it is anything worthy of adoration in 2016. You, as human being of sound body and mind capable of going online and reading an article, should look upon Lionsgate’s upcoming Power Rangers movie with a certain amount of dread. This is what it means to be an adult. This and taxes and horrible weddings you must attend out of social obligation. I’m sorry. But it’s true.

And yet, the news that Elizabeth Banks has been cast as the lead villain in director Dean Israelite‘s upcoming film somehow manages to speak volumes about what kind of movie they’re making. I’ll say this much: if you insist on making a Power Rangers movie, casting someone as delightful as Banks is a step in the right direction.

As those of you already familiar with Power Rangers lore already suspected, The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Banks will play Rita Repulsa, an extra-terrestrial witch who, along with her crew of bumbling monsters and henchmen, sets out to destroy earth. Naturally, only a color-coded gang of super-powered teenagers led by a giant floating head who lives in a tube can stand in their way. Their conflicts always reach the same basic conclusion: those hip teens combine their dinosaur-themed “Zords” into a giant “Megazord” robot to pulverize whatever alien monstrosity Rita has conjured on that given day.

Power Rangers is weird and it is dumb and I’m in the exact age bracket to know far too much about it. God help me. God help us all.

But Banks is a silver lining here and her presence in this cast may speak volumes. Power Rangers is, and remains in its countless other incarnations, patently ridiculous and silly, so a serious adaptation would be wrongheaded. When your basic building blocks are inherently goofy, any attempt to lend them serious gravity only makes the whole thing feel… well, like Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. See also: Joseph Kahn’s wildly subversive Power/Rangers short, which skewers this very direction and exposes it as a terrible, terrible idea.

Banks is a natural comedic talent who is more than capable to cutting cinematic ham nice and thick. If Power Rangers was looking to be a grim experience to pander to nostalgia-fueled adults, it would surely not seek out someone like Banks, who is so good at offering a light touch. That someone with the capacity to be silly has been cast suggests that the rest of the movie may embrace the fact that it’s based on a preposterous kids’ show and act accordingly. This movie is going to exist, so it might as well go for the right audience.

Plus, those Hunger Games movies already gave Banks a trial run for her Rita costume, which is surely going to be extravagant and deeply uncomfortable.

And in any case, Banks just directed the hugely successful Pitch Perfect 2 and is set to direct Pitch Perfect 3 and a new Charlie’s Angels movie. She’s in control of her own destiny at this point. Who are we to deny her the opportunity to play a cackling space witch?

Power Rangers is set for a March 24, 2017 release date.

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