You may not have noticed it as a kid, but the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers had a race problem. While the white members of the cast all got to be everything from red to blue to (duh!) white, the Black Ranger was a black guy and the Yellow Ranger was Asian (although depending on their temperature and/or health condition, I guess even the Caucasian cast’s color could be considered race specific). That may have just been brushed off in the Dark Ages of the 1990’s, but modern society is going to notice stuff like that.
Luckily they won’t have to for the upcoming feature film reboot, simply titled Power Rangers. EW has revealed the first image of the full cast, and while the names of the characters are the same, their complexions have all changed. So say hello (with plenty of gratuitous choppy hand waving action) to your new Billy a.k.a. the Blue Ranger, (R.J. Cyler), Kimberly a.k.a the Pink Ranger (Naomi Scott), Zack a.k.a the Black Ranger (Ludi Lin), Trini a.k.a the Yellow Ranger (Becky G), and Jason a.k.a the Red Ranger (Dacre Montgomery).
Director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) told EW that besides for making this a “superhero story to reflect the lives of teens today,” this “coming of age story for these disenfranchised and disparate high schoolers, who are not friends when the new story begins”, intentionally also had to reflect modern sensitivity to race.
“From the very beginning, diversity was a very important part of the whole process. We switched all of the races around, but we made sure that the essence of each of those characters are who they were in the original show, and this really will be an origin story of those characters.”
But while skin colour is important, fans may be a bit more interested on something else that’s on the outside: The costumes. Unfortunately, Israelite wasn’t ready to show those off yet, but he did add that the updated looks will have a “really modern, edgy, badass, aspirational quality.”
“We’ve really pushed ourselves to make them feel different from any other superhero costume that’s out there. One key that’s different to the Power Ranger suits is that they’re not really suits that people get into. They’re suits that morph onto our kids, so they already have this almost metaphysical quality to them.”
But while we don’t quite know yet what the Power Rangers’ costumes look like, we do at least know who they’ll be fighting when they wear them as it was recently revealed that the always awesome Elizabeth Banks has been cast to play classic series villain – and Darryn’s secret Asian crush – Rita Repulsa.
“It’s very exciting that we got [Banks], and I think what she loves is the opportunity to really embrace the insanity and deliciousness of Rita Repulsa in terms of how weird and wonderful that character was, and really dive into and consume that character. You should always be off-balance when you’re watching her. Is she insane? Is she totally calculated? Does she know what she’s doing? Elizabeth can toe that line really well.”
Banks has always done well with wacky out-there characters (see: Effie Trinkett in The Hunger Games), so I have no doubt that she can really pull off the classic cackling witch with ease. My question is just who they’re going to cast as the guy in the styrofoam robot outfit who is going to pretend to be 50-foot tall as he trashes a cardboard scale model replica of a city.
Power Rangers is currently in production and is scheduled for release on March 24, 2017. Here’s the full synopsis:
Saban’s Power Rangers follows five ordinary high school kids who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover that they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so they will have to overcome their real-life issues and band together as the Power Rangers before it is too late.
Last Updated: March 4, 2016