Fans have been eager to see Bat in the Sun and Jason David Frank's Legend of the White Dragon ever since it was first announced, and now things are starting to come into view. The project is currently filming and seems to be coming along nicely, and the cast has shared behind-the-scenes images and videos on social media. We still have lots of questions though, and thankfully JDF was happy to answer some of them when he spoke to us all about the project, his new character, and more. Frank will be playing the character of Erik Reed, who is attempting to track down the crystal that allows him to call upon the power of the White Dragon, and Frank gave us the rundown on who Erik is, what he's fighting for, and how White Dragon stands apart from Power Rangers.
"The audience, I think, is going to really relate to Erik Reed because he's completely different opposite than Tommy Oliver," Frank said. "And I think if they can imagine what my... It has no relation at all, but I'm saying as far as my audience, it's a deeper, older, I wouldn't say version of Tommy Oliver at all. It's a completely different character. But what they're going to see is Jason David Frank in a more mature role, meaning that he's... I can finally express on television, that's not for kids, nothing that's PG-13."
"For example. I don't think our older characters could ever relate or express themselves as a regular teenager would nowadays. A lot of teens or kids deal with depression, especially during this quarantine stuff. No one really thinks about the depression aspect of it. So I feel that they can relate to more realistic life, meaning that we all have problems that we deal with. You're going to see that in Erik Reed," Frank said. "We all have regrets that we got to deal with. Believe it or not, everyone's life is a little complex, that maybe only you can understand."
Frank is also mixing things up on the action side, as Reed will utilize more Muay Thai, adding he "kept that a little bit different for the audience versus a lot of flashy stuff that you see in regular karate movies or Power Rangers and stuff like that."
"Also, Erik Reed is, like I said, a little bit darker. I mean, he's got tattoos. He's not afraid to express his artwork. And every tattoo, especially the one on his head, means a lot to him," Frank said. "It's a reminder of stuff that he's had to conquer and stuff that lingers in his personality for years and years, for the last three years. And you could really see in Erik's eyes, his hurt, his desire to be reunited with his family again, his confusion about life, and just the complexity of what Erik Reed stands for. I think people can relate to that."
Reed will be joined by some old friends, but the character will have some hurdles to clear when they become a part of his life again.
"You're going to see a lot of problems in Erik Reed. He's really stuck in his head, and I don't think he knows how to express himself with people," Frank said. "His old friends come back in his life, and they want him to pick up where he left off at. And there was a lot of people, I think, in life that stopped doing what they loved for someone else, and convince them otherwise."
Despite those challenges, Reed can move forward towards a brighter future, and that was important for the character, and something that Frank also happens to love about Tommy.
"So there's a lot of rewards that I think keeping Power Rangers, when Tommy was evil, when he turned good, that alone, 20 years later, taught people, 'Hey, man, you could be good, even if you were evil.' And people, I still hear that today in shows like, 'Hey, when I turned good, it turned my life around.' So there are little things in here that can tell people to follow their dreams and let go of the past and be present. Don't live in the past. Be present. And there's a future ahead of you. And that's what my whole character is about. It's about letting the past go and finding himself again. And I think this age group, 25 to 30 to 35, I do a lot of cameos, a lot of motivational cameos because sometimes we're lost. It's a really hard age. Some people don't have a family. Some people want a family, some people don't understand. I did a cameo for someone today that's kind of lost in life, that feels that there's no hope left. So my cameo was, 'Let's focus on the future, focus on what you think is not going to happen and make it happen.'
"And I think Erik Reed took a step back. Like you see Erik, you're like, 'Who is this guy? This dude was a superhero. Now, who is he?' And that's why I think people are going to relate to fighting this character's problems. It's PG-13. I don't have to go PG no more," Frank said. "There's some blood, there are other people, a few standard cuss words that are standard on television nowadays. It's me. It's not the PG-13 of Jason David Frank. The PG-13 of Jason David Frank is the PG-13... I mean, pushing rated R, which it's not."
Fans are also eager to see the suits and costumes the team has dreamed up for the project as well as all the lore and mythos they've created, including the powerful crystals that allow Reed to become the White Dragon.
"When we have crystals, the crystals are broken in half. How we can get that suit activated is through the crystals, but also through a charging pit. So there's a desperate chase to find the crystals, and a desperate chase to charge the crystals, and then a desperate chase from getting the crystals into our suits and being superheroes again. So there's a huge buildup."
As for the suits themselves, you can expect something with the style and flair you've seen from the team previously, and as far as powers, there's a lot to get excited about, including even a little Wolverine.
"So Bat in the Sun designs really great suits. I remember when they came to me with the redesigning the Green Ranger suit, I was so worried about it because that's an established suit from 1993. It's every kid's, at that time, favorite ranger. And now, here comes a young guy, Aaron, Bat in the Sun, and wants to redesign the suit, they want to change the helmet color, or put gold on it," Frank said. "They want to redesign the suit, so I was really worried about it. And then it was done. Then all of a sudden I started seeing everyone cosplay, literally saying, 'I'm the Bat in the Sun version. I'm the Bat in the Sun version.' So I said, 'Man, these guys are really creative on designing and revamping a suit, even in the comic books.' Boom, they used his design to replace Tommy Oliver, but that was the Bat in the Sun design."
"So he's really good at designing suits, so he met his team of people, and with me, and wanted to create a suit that was a little bit of everything in it. To be honest, the powers got a little... He knows I love Wolverine, so we got a little Wolverine powers. We got flying powers, we've got the ability of mastery martial arts, but typical superhero stuff that merges into one," Frank said.
Legend of the White Dragon also provided a chance for Frank to work with some of his Power Rangers castmates on a completely different type of project.
"I really like the characters he designed, as far as Jason Faunt, and not feeling like I was filming with Wes," Frank said. "When me and Faunt did Forever Red, we did all the reunions. The first day on set, I've never worked with Faunt outside of Power Rangers. So the first day, it just snapped. I just was like, 'Man, this doesn't feel like Wes, and this is certainly not like Tommy.' So I knew we were onto something really good, because the fan base wants to see us. They want to see what we can do, and desperately wanting to see something, I would say, like Power Rangers, but it's so different."
"We put Ciara in there. She's actually a big part of the movie, but not in it so much. Her character really means a lot to the franchise. And, again, we saw her in a few movies outside of Power Rangers and she did really good. Actually, she did great on Power Rangers, but again, Power Rangers don't give you the material. So we looked at her movies that she just did and said, 'Hey, this would be a perfect role for her.' So we were captivated by that special part of her acting for this movie, and she's great all around. But again, people don't look at Power Rangers and say, 'You're a good actor.' I think when we did Power Rangers, the whole six seasons, or whatever it was, it was a soap opera. So I thought the acting was good. I mean, had a relationship with Amy, obviously, captivated the audience through the television with Tommy Oliver's eyes."
While Legend of the White Dragon embraces similar superhero aspects, it is not trying to be Power Rangers. "So when we wanted to do this... Well, number one, the most important thing is we don't want any problems with Saban, we don't want any problems with Hasbro. We're not trying to be another Power Rangers, because there will never be another Power Rangers," Frank said. "I mean, there's just never going to be. You can't remake it. They tried Masked Rider, they tried VR Troopers. It's not to be another, different Power Ranger universe, it's for my fan base. I love the fans. They're great. So I wanted to give them something that, and me, too, something I could really dig into."
That's also why the whole cast isn't just made up previous Ranger actors, but don't worry, because there is plenty of talent involved in the final product.
"So assembling the cast was interesting, because we didn't want to bring in too many Rangers because of Hasbro, and just because there's a certain level... If they don't fit the role, they don't fit the role. I don't know what else to say. We're casting like a movie, and you have to cast outside of who you love. If they don't fit the role, or their, say, networks and other people buying the film distributors say, 'Hey, this is a certain amount of numbers we need. This is what we need to do in order for your movie and TV show to go somewhere. It needs to be outside of this.' So I reached out to people I love. My dad who plays my dad on the show, and we'll find out soon for you guys. I always wanted to work with this guy, and it was surreal sitting across the table from him. Him playing my dad, and really had to look him in the eyes, don't even know him, and just, bam, jumped into really emotional scenes," Frank said.
Legend of the White Dragon is a project for fans of all genres, and if fans respond to it as much as the cast has, fans could be. info something special.
"You're going to see familiar faces from all different genres, of all different possible favorite TV shows that you go, 'Ah, it's all in one. This is dope. I don't just have to be a Power Ranger fan. Maybe I could be a fan of different superheroes that are in here.' Different genres, so we really just mixed it a lot. Believe it or not, the cast members came to us. I met all these guys on tour and through quarantine shows and live shows, and I just couldn't believe it. I just said, 'Well, let's just see if they like it.' And every actor that we have said, 'You need to send the script.' We can't sell them based off who I am. We need to sell the script. And they loved the script, and that's the reason why they came on board."
Frank recognizes that he could not do this without the support of his fans, and because of them and his passion for what he does, they were able to raise a lot of money for the project. Way more than they expected.
"We owe huge thanks to our Kickstarter supporters for two things in particular, firstly the money that they donated to the project and, secondly, their hard work and dedication which caught the attention of a private investor: We ended up with a multi-million dollar budget"
Between the costumes, the actors, and the action it's clear the money is going to good use. This is going to be a project that fans have been waiting years for.
You can find the official synopsis for Legend of the White Dragon below.1comments
"The White Dragon, Erik Reed, has returned home to Virtuo City 3 years later after being defeated in a colossal battle against the ancient overlord, Ashtagor. The crystal he used to become the White Dragon was broken in two as a result of the epic battle, both pieces were subsequently lost. Being blamed for the destruction and collateral lives lost, his identity was outed after the battle thus making him a fugitive from the law. We now follow Erik on his journey as he teams up with treasure hunters from the past who help him reclaim his power as the White Dragon. Once reunited with his powers, he and his team are now ready to battle a new threat, Dragon Prime, who seeks revenge against the White Dragon. Erik must now try and defeat Dragon Prime in order to get one step closer to clearing his name and being able to protect his family from an ancient evil that still lurks in the darkness… Ashtagor."
Are you excited for Legend of the White Dragon? Let us know in the comments or let me know by hitting me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!