Between X-Men and Avengers: Mech Strike, two of Marvel’s biggest superteams are borrowing a move from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ playbook.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for X-Men #1 by Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, Tom Muller, and VC’s Clayton Cowles and Avengers: Mech Strike, by Jed MacKay, Carlos Magno, Guru e-FX and VC’s Cory Petit, on sale now.
Ever since bursting onto the scene in 1993, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have seen countless imitators rise and fall in their Super Sentai-inspired wake. And now, two of the Power Rangers’ most unlikely imitators are two of Marvel’s most prominent superhero teams, the X-Men and the Avengers. When confronted with larger-than-life invaders, both of these Marvel teams turned to giant Megazord-esque robots instead of their usual brands of super-heroics.
The first issue of the new X-Men ongoing series sees the latest iteration of the team come up against a brand new kind of alien threat. Almost as soon as the massive, armored being touches down, the X-Men use their powers in conjunction with one another to form their own towering mechanical titan to enter the fray. Through their combined and coordinated efforts, the X-Men are able to defeat their new foe in relatively little time, winning the day before the Fantastic Four and Avengers arrive on the scene.
When the dust has settled, the X-Men are cheered on by an adoring public while their X-Mech stands triumphantly over the monster they felled in a moment that would feel more at home in an episode of Power Rangers. But the X-Men aren’t the only ones employing such tactics to stop giant-size threats.
The non-canon Avengers: Mech Strike series by Jed MacKay and Carlos Magno has seen another major Marvel team employ mech suits of their own in the war against Kang the Conqueror’s techno-organic monstrosities. While Earth’s Mightiest Heroes haven’t combined their powers into one giant being yet, the series is billed off of their use of giant mech suits, and their image still brings to mind the same sort of giant-size action that ended so many of the Power Rangers’ adventures.
Considering the way that the Avengers and X-Men are respectively assembled, it makes sense that they would lend themselves to Ranger-like tactics in the face of unknown intergalactic horrors. Ideas about teamwork are baked into every superhero team story, from the Power Rangers to the X-Men and the Avengers. These giant robots simply literalize those ideas by turning implicit ideas about teamwork into awesome firepower.
In recent months, the X-Men have started referring to their signature teamwork as “Mutant Technology,” a term that highlights the ways that Marvel’s mutants can combine their powers in ways that produce results that are greater than the sum of their parts. Similarly, the oversized armors worn by the Avengers in Mech Strike aren’t entirely unexpected in a world where Tony Stark has unlimited resources and time to tinker, and they’re apparently easy enough to produce that Thanos could be made custom-built shortly after his introduction to the series.
Mech Strike is certainly a far more tongue-in-cheek sendup of both its own characters and Power Rangers tropes than X-Men necessarily is, but both of these stories make the implicit explicit with a narrative language that’s usually only embraced by the Power Rangers and their ilk. Fittingly, this also comes at a time when Marvel is publishing new comics about Ultraman, another tokusatsu series that shares considerable DNA with Power Rangers that certainly embraces the tropes of the genre.
While it doesn’t seem like a crossover is in the cards for any of these properties anytime soon, the prevalence of these Megazord-esque mechs highlights the generational influence of P0wer Rangers and the language of the beloved series.
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