So I as have everyone else been listening to the TTV cast discuss over multiple podcasts how they would reboot our beloved franchise, and while I understand their reasoning behind a lot the changes they opted for, I must conclude in the end they’re just making too many unnecessary changes.
Its not so much that I don’t like the changes, but I feel that with each core aspect of the G1 era they change or do away with altogether it feels less and less like Bionicle. And to be quite frank; the series they’d been crafting –from the minifigures, to the elements, to the ancient tribal setting; comes across way more like a ‘Legends of Chima’ reboot than a Bionicle reboot.
Now I understand their motives for the changes they proposed, that the original aspects just didn’t make all that much sense if you thought about them, but herein lies what I believe to be the most common and greatest missed opportunity when it comes to reboots.
So the Elements of Ice and Stone don’t make all that much sense in the context of the other four [we’ll forget temporarily as we all had before that Kopaka and Pohatu’s names in Maori literally translate to ‘Ice’ and ‘Stone’…] if you’re rebooting the universe, then why not take the opportunity to instead explain why these Elements are things at all?
To paint a better picture of this idea, let’s take a look at Batman; what are his most unique and distinguishing visual features, what sets him apart from other caped crusaders? The Bat Ears on the Cowl; the Jagged Frills on his Cape; and the three Spiked Prongs on his Wrists.
Now in the immediate practical sense, what POSSIBLE use could ANYONE have for pointy edges on their cape? Same idea for the other details. Well, in ‘Batman Begins’, they actually went to meticulous detail to show just WHY Bruce Wayne added those seemingly useless design aesthetics; the wrist prongs come from his ninja training and are shown to have multiple practical applications; the ears not only serve to make Batman more bizarre and unsettling, but also have audio receptors that pick up more minute sounds from greater distances; and the jagged edges of the cape are actually special fabric that solidifies in certain ways, turning the cape into a glider.
Now Batsuit visual aesthetics aren’t necessarily the same thing as Elemental Superpowers, but at their core it’s the same kind of general idea.
For another comparison, let’s drawn on the yet-to-be-released ‘Power Rangers’ movie; yes, you have your Rangers, your Zordon, your Zords, your Rita Repulsa, your Alpha-V, and what-not; but do you really? Do you have the characters and other elements, or do you have a checklist of things to meet before you start doing altogether your own thing? It says a whole lot about whether or not you understand just what made the material you’re rebooting so great and iconic to begin with [or, on the flipside, what made it an epic failure and so detested] To get to the point; without all the context of Power Rangers; would you have had any idea the trailer you just watched was for a Power Rangers movie? You probably could pick up on the ranger’s outfits, but what’s to say this is a ‘Mighty Morphin’ reboot? What’s to stop it from being an entirely different set of teens, mentors, and villains to reboot with?
Now back to Bionicle; on the subject of the Elements, it could do for a good amount of world-building and lore if it was explained at some point just why there are these seemingly unusual elements, meanwhile you could take the time to explore how different these two elemental cultures are; Earth could be the more zen-like people, for example, as Earth is made up of millions of smaller particles and always moving, if slowly, they have a very accepting and generally patient attitude towards anything; meanwhile Stone could be very rough and firm, unmoving and stuck in their ways unless something ‘shatters’ them, like Stones. And perhaps while Water takes a similar approach to things as Earth, they can also get apprehensive if approached too quickly or are roughed about, becoming disheveled at first and then hitting hard more or less as one when they’re upset enough; Ice meanwhile could be more passive about things, only sticking about so long as they can before things get a way they don’t like and they gradually ‘melt off’, but otherwise will gather in mass.
These are just ideas to play off of, things to better define the cultures within the show and characters and better tie them to their respective Elements.
As for the origins for Elements like Ice and Stone? This is far more conceptual, but G3 is a reboot after all, so changes and retcons like these are generally acceptable; my idea is that originally there were only meant to be Four Elements; Fire, Air, Water, and Earth; however the Great Beings screwed up something awful [like they do…] and the four Toa ended up imbued with too much power, and said power ended up going out of control, forcing the Great Beings to put the Toa down [like doggies] and only Water managed to live through the ordeal [this could be Toa Helryx’s origin] initially the Great Beings decided to scrap the Toa idea and try for other guardians, but after they failed with the Skakdi, they went back to the Toa and decided to divide the Elements into more types so that the next Toa wouldn’t go crazy like the first ones. Thus Fire became Fire, Plasma, and Lightning; Earth became Earth, Stone, and Iron; Water became Water, Ice, and Magnetism; and Air became Air, Gravity, and Sonics. [The Elements of Psionics and Plantlife were actually equally distributed amongst them, but they proved to still cause problems, so they were removed and made into their own Elements, as well]
Again, these are just ideas that serve to not only explain anomalies, but also build the respective world and characters.
Onto the subject of scaled-down Bonicle; I understand the switch to conventional minifigures, especially with the notion of mini-fig scale Bionicle Lego sets, but to me the Bionicle characters just don’t look right as conventional minifigures, they look too clunky and limited, at least compared to how the constraction sets were. I could understand if minifigs were the only way to get down to minifig scale, but many [including myself] have proven that its possible to make minifig Bionicles of assorted pieces that are not only to scale, but are also perfectly functional and look pretty good to boot, even cooler in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen a lot of the concept art for Bio-minifigs and they do look awesome, but the alternative way does offer a lot more visual range.
Something else I would like to argue is the proposed notion of making Bionicle characters more human-like, as ‘human as possible’ I think one of the cast-members said. Again, I can understand their reasoning for this, as the viewers could relate more to more human characters; but at the same time, I feel this greatly takes away from some of Bionicle’s own exclusive charm.
The world of the Bionicle was an entirely alien, inhuman world that was all it’s own with no involvement of outside media or even sources [which meant specifically no human visitors or regulars] to make them ‘as human as possible’ I feel would be to take away that unique alien element. Yes, in many ways they were very much human like us [philosophically] but at same time their inhuman traits made them more unique. However, they can still be relatable. Allow me to provide to you an example;
We average, more or less well-off average and unremarkable young humans in our apartments, our suburban houses, and our Kent family farms with our school, our jobs, and our chores, cannot possibly hope to relate to the arguable Fire god robot who emerged with amnesia from a canister on a tropical island inhabited by smaller robots of a tribal culture, all of which is threatened by a Shadow god of pure evil the arguable Fire god is destined to overthrow… However, as we follow this robot’s story, we get to know him a little better, we see that he has anger issues, that he doesn’t get along well with others –even those like him, he can be careless and cocky, he’s confused, he’s secretly afraid but too insecure to show this, he wants answers but no one seems to have any satisfying ones;
THESE are things we can relate to, these are what makes a character human, despite the outward differences; flaws, imperfections, aspirations, hopes, fears; things we, humans, at our base core understand.
Another thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way is the approach towards the Rahkshi; once again, I get everything they’re saying, but there is another [arguably better] approach [also, TTV, please for the love of Mata Nui stop using strawman complaints to deflect any legit critiques towards your ideas. That’s just low] I believe the answer is not so much to make them visually distinct, but rather to remodel them so they have more distinct personas; so let’s reinvent the Kraata so that instead of having to transform them into Rahkshi shells for other Kraata to pilot [I think that’s how it worked…] they’re actually parasites that mutate hosts into fearsome shadow agents of Makuta-
This works again for world-building as Kraata can be used to make the Rahi violent servants of Makuta when the Toa Mata first show up instead of infected Kanohi masks, and the ‘Brotherhood of Makuta’ can be both a brotherhood of the makuta species, as well as another group of followers who use Kraata to not only signify their allegiance but also make it harder for members to back out
-Basically the Kraata are Shadow Leeches. Anyway, so come the time for the Rahkshi to come about, Makuta rips six Kraata from his essence and essentially alters them so that they’re far worse than previous Kraata, these parasites then find Matoran and bond to them, the individual dark aspects of Makuta playing into the Matorns’ own darker inner aspects, transforming the Matoran into Rahkshi; the ‘Sons’ of Makuta, who live to do his will and seek only his approval. This idea could work well as it not only gives the Rahkshi some much-needed personality and dynamic, but also adds some weight and tension to the conflict as the Toa Nuva realize their opponents are Matoran and need to figure out how to defeat them without killing them.
My point to all this is that [if you haven’t already guessed] while change is not inherently a bad thing and often times its necessary, sometimes what worked before really worked and it wouldn’t hurt to do it over again. If Bionicle’s small flaws were so irritating and detrimental, the franchise would not have lasted as long as it did nor have the following it now has. Granted; for both the sake of originality and making sense of things, some things DO have to be changed, but otherwise there’s a great opportunity to take what at first doesn’t seem to work and break down how it in fact could and does work.
The idea is not to just straight up replace something when it breaks; the idea is to fix the problem.