Power Rangers Reboot, Offer Diversity in Casting

From L to R: Naomi Scott as "Kimberly," RJ Cyler as "Billy," Dacre Montgomery as "Jason," Ludi Lin as "Zack" and Becky G as "Trini" in SABAN'S POWER RANGERS. Photo credit: Kimberley French.

The Power Rangers are back on the big screen for the third time after the television series debuted on August 28, 1993. With its release, we see the first blockbuster film to feature both LGBTQ and autistic superheroes.

Dean Israelite directs the franchise’s third film from a screenplay written by John Gatins, based on a story written by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless and Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney. The cast features Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, featuring Bill Hader, with Bryan Cranston, and Elizabeth Banks. Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson provide cameos late in the film.

The movie may be a reboot but honors the series by giving the same names to the characters. The zords are back, too, as is the Megazord. However, the designs are much different than the original series–which makes sense given where technology is in this day and age. This version of the Megazord does not see the Power Rangers in one single cockpit when they team up. Still, one can’t help but get nostalgic when it first appears late in the film.

Five teenagers just happened to be at the same place at the same time when they discover five power coins. They soon find out that the world is much different than they thought when they learn they are the new Power Rangers and their town, Angel Grove, is under attack from Rita Repulsa.

It’s not easy but they learn how to come together as a team and save the day. They do so while having to learn how to deal with cyber-bullying, alienation, peer pressures and family issues. They don’t become Power Rangers just like that. They have to earn the ability to morph and unlike many superhero films, it’s not something that comes early on. It’s a process.

As far as the casting goes, these Rangers are very diverse unlike the original series, which featured three white actors of the five original rangers. Not only that but the filmmakers were wise to make the decision to have characters be LGBTQ and on the autism spectrum. This move was heavily praised by the original Blue Ranger, David Yost, in a guest column published this past week in The Hollywood Reporter.

“We wanted these Power Rangers to be more real, more human and more nuanced than they’ve ever been so we’ve pushed the emotion, as well as the humor,” Israelite says. “The other thing that was really important to me was to create a world that would be unique unto itself, a world that doesn’t borrow from all the other superhero movies we’ve seen but has a different visual style. The Power Rangers have their own truly distinct legacy that is completely separate from other superhero legends, so we worked hard to make sure our film’s design pays respect to that and takes advantage of it.”

Distributed by Lionsgate, Power Rangers opened on March 24, 2017.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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