Years after the 2015 release of Adi Shankar's grim and gritty Power Rangers fan video, which featured an ultra-violent version of the kid-friendly franchise, starring James Van Der Beek as a turncoat Ranger, some people still wonder: what was that about?
The short version: it's for the fans. Like...only them.
"The short was designed so that if you didn't watch season one, season two of Power Rangers, you wouldn't understand what was going on," Shankar said. "There was no establishment. There's no, 'Oh, this happened...' There was no backstory. It was almost, like, episode five. That was by design, because it was being made for people who watched those two seasons. That's it."
The short took the internet by storm when it was released, with dozens of thinkpieces either praising its creativity or bemoaning its grim and gritty approach to the characters. But whether people loved it or hated it, having that many people discussing his work was a net positive for Shankar.
"The crazy thing is that it was made for the people who grew up watching it, so season one and season two. And then being like, 'Ah, and by the way, all these child shows are about weaponizing youth,'" Shankar said. "It's giving kids weapons and asking them to fight aliens and shit. It's kinda weird. It's part of our industrial-military complex. It was a social commentary on that, amalgamated with my love of Power Rangers season one and season two."
Social commentary that was broadly seen as guerilla marketing; Shankar's unofficial videos usually result in a vocal contingent of fans trying to get him on board with the project when it becomes official...and this one was no different. It did not work to get him on board for the Power Rangers movie that came out, but it did put him on a lot of people's radars.
"The problem was, it just blew up so big that there was all these ripple effects that kept happening," he admitted. "I mean, look at the s--t I'm working on now, right? It's a direct result of that and people like, 'Hey, you know something we don't. Go make stuff.' So that was cool."
Shankar, who has also done unofficial videos based on characters like The Punisher, Venom, and James Bond, appeared in the (totally official) comic book movie Officer Downe last year and served as an executive producer on Dredd. He currently serves as a producer on Netflix's Castlevania adaptation with comic book writer Warren Ellis.