In 2017, Power Rangers, a popular children’s show that started in 1993 and is still running to this day, got its own theatrical release with “Power Rangers.” Admittedly, this is the third theatrical release the franchise has had, but the others were more like spin-offs of the original series rather than their own entity. 2017 Rangers actually hard rebooted the universe, changing around multiple things in order to accommodate more modern sensibilities.
I believe it deserved so much more. Even Marti Broomfield, who was not a Power Rangers fan when watching the movie said, “I think a lot of people dismissed it because it WAS a Power Rangers movie, so they thought it was going to be cheesy and stupid, but it actually ended up being pretty good.”
In Power Rangers 2017, there are several changes that at first seem trivial, but in the end, they actually mean quite a bit. For one thing, a lot of the teens are troublemakers. Jason is a rebellious prankster, Kimberly is a bad girl who was in some social media trouble, Trini is a loner, and Zack is a daredevil. The only one who’s really innocent in any way is Billy, and even he apparently blows up his locker at one point.
Why is this change good? Well, it follows through on something the original series says. They’re teenagers with attitudes. While the original teens from Mighty Morphin are classic, they’re also pretty bland. They’re all goodie-two-shoes who rarely rebel against authority, and are ultimately the furthest thing from “attitude” the ‘90s had to offer. With this change, the teens actually have quite a lot of growing to do to earn being Power Rangers.
Another change that may seem innocuous at points is the changing around of some characters’ races. This is probably the smallest change and done to avoid the apparent (though probably accidental) lack of diversity in the original show by making the black ranger an African-American boy, and the yellow ranger an Asian girl. Here, the black ranger is an Asian boy, the blue ranger is an African-American boy, and the yellow ranger is apparently of Hispanic descent, something the original series didn’t even have.
Which brings us to the last reason why this reboot deserves better: representation.
Representation does not make or break a movie. A movie is not good just because it has some characters that aren’t white or straight. That shouldn’t be something we still need to celebrate, it should be common enough that it’s not a major event every time a gay or lesbian character is in a film, game, or any form of media. But Power Rangers 2017 actually does representation right.
The race changes have already been discussed, but then we have what they did with the blue and yellow ranger. The blue ranger is on the autistic spectrum, by his own admission. It’s not treated like how Hollywood tends to treat autism, as a superpower (see The Predator). It’s treated and portrayed pretty realistically as autistic characters go. Billy struggles with touching people, stumbles over his words, and is not very comfortable around people. It’s treated like a real syndrome that real people have.
Meanwhile, the yellow ranger, Trini, is something that the series never touched before or since. She is part of the LGBTQ community.
To be fair, Trini is never directly said to be gay or bisexual, but it is heavily hinted and many people took the scene where she “comes out” as conformation. Surprisingly, compared to most Hollywood films that try to shove LGBTQ people in there for the sake of publicity only to have very little of it in the film, there was never a hint of Trini’s sexuality in any pre-release interviews. They wanted it to be a surprise, and wouldn’t you know it, people WERE surprised and they really liked it, since it wasn’t shoved down the public’s throats, and the LGTBQ demographic wasn’t baited.
In the end, Power Rangers 2017 actually had good ideas and actually good representation for people who desperately needed it.
While the film had its problems (a severe lack of action until the last third is a big problem for a supposed action movie) it deserved better than what it ultimately got, which was a middling box office and getting wiped from history. That’s disappointing, to say the least.