All the Reasons Elizabeth Banks Shouldn’t Be In Power Rangers

By  · Published on February 2nd, 2016

Just when you thought you had no interest in Power Rangers, the upcoming movie adaptation of the popular ’90s TV series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, along comes a possible reason to get excited. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Elizabeth Banks has signed on to play the villain, Rita Repulsa.

Or, maybe you’re not one of the people who see this as a great move by Lionsgate in an effort to attract an audience outside the fanbase. Sure, it’s a fine tradition Hollywood has of casting great actors as the bad guy in blockbusters that would otherwise be unappealing to most of us. But Banks, who seemed to be breaking out all over the place last year, just isn’t right for the role.

Here are six reasons why:

1. She’s too good for the movie

Roadside Attractions

Her awards buzz for Love & Mercy didn’t take her very far beyond some critics group love (and even there mostly in nomination form), but she proved with her performance in the Brian Wilson biopic that she’s not just fit for comedies anymore. Banks should be following the acclaim with another dramatic role to keep her relevant in that arena.

2. She should focus on directing

Last year, she also made her feature directorial debut, with Pitch Perfect 2, and while it wasn’t the greatest start in terms of quality, it was a pretty big hit at the box office for a first film. Instead of signing on to play a villain in a movie like Power Rangers, she should be signing on to direct a movie like Power Rangers.

3. This is a step down in franchise work

Maybe Banks needs a new franchise now that The Hunger Games movies are over, but even though she’s in a bigger role in Power Rangers, it seems like a step backwards. It’s like going to work at a worse company just so you have a higher position. Everyone in The Hunger Games should be heading to a better place. Jennifer Lawrence isn’t now starring in a Barb Wire remake, you know? Besides, Banks also still has the Lego Movie franchise.

4. Just because she’s good doesn’t mean the movie will be

Banks is almost always a delightful presence on screen, but she can’t elevate a movie’s quality alone. Not even Meryl Streep playing Rita Repulsa could guarantee Power Rangers is worth seeing. Given the material and Banks’s current stature, I could see this very easily being like Frank Langella playing Skeletor in Masters of the Universe. Even if I kinda enjoyed director Dean Israelite’s last movie.

7. She’s white

Banks is a white woman filling a role originally played by Japanese actress Machiko Soga, via footage originating in the show Ky?ry? Sentai Zyuranger (where the character was named Witch Bandora). Her dialogue was dubbed, however, by voice actress Barbara Goodson. Rita was recast for later seasons and incarnations by Latina actresses Carla Perez and Julia Cortez, but Goodson continued to do the voice. Now, it could be argued that the character is an alien so not of any race plus most of the Power Rangers were whitewashed from the Japanese original, but given the current controversy of alleged casting racism in Hollywood, Lionsgate probably should have gone with a person of color here.

6. She’s actually not big enough for the role

If Lionsgate’s plan is to appeal to both the masses and those with more refined tastes in actors, Banks isn’t really popular or prestige enough yet to be held responsible for such a draw. She is probably as big a name as this movie could get, and she’s still more familiar than the up-and-comers playing the title heroes (including RJ Cyler of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), but she’s nowhere near the level of attraction of Cate Blanchett in Cinderella or Werner Herzog in Jack Reacher or Julianne Moore in The Hunger Games.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.