As we draw ever nearer to the release of Saban’s Power Rangers movie reboot, we’re still holding onto the hope that the whole thing doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is a big-budget flick based on a bunch of teenage superheroes who fight evil in rainbow tights, with the aid of dinosaur robots. They pose so hard they create spontaneous explosions. They spout puns and quips while they fight tap-dancing monsters made of putty.
Bulk and Skull exist, dragging their theme music and general embarrassment around wherever they go.
It’s not serious business, is what we’re saying. Not that Power Rangers never had its great and emotional moments, because there were plenty; it’s just that the franchise has never tried all that hard to address a few of its more gaping flaws, instead choosing to pile them on and hope the kids are distracted by all the pretty colors.
Which leaves us to don our jaded, cynical adult specs to take a look at 15 Things About Power Rangers That Make NO Sense.
15. All That Outsourcing to Teenagers
As we all know, there’s nothing on this planet more powerful than teenagers with attitude.
Well, except for nukes. And shotguns. And adults, since (in theory) they’re just more developed versions of teenagers, both physically and mentally. It’s the exact reason the army has an age limit, like most jobs. So why in the name of Eltar does Zordon, and later many more Power Rangers mentors, think it’s okay to recruit teenagers to fight their intergalactic wars?
This trope may get a pass in certain seasons- RPM, SPD and Time Force are just a few examples where the Rangers explicitly are grown professionals and not kids- but most tend to play this one straight. It goes beyond nonsensical into the sinister, since the only reason Zordon would’ve picked teens to do his dirty work was that their impressionable minds could be warped to see things from his perspective.
Think of what Zordon should actually be doing in this circumstance: explaining to the UN about this angsty space witch with lip-syncing issues, how she poses a genuine threat to the world and also, he’s just got these giant mecha sitting in reserve, if the army would be willing to lend a few decent pilots. But nah, let’s keep any actual authority out of the loop and give control of said humongous mecha to a bunch of hormonal youngsters whose greatest battle up until that point has been against acne.
That’s the only good reason this could’ve happened: to create conditioned child soldiers who saw the world in black and white hues of good and evil, just like their mentor. That’s some dark stuff for a kids’ show about people posing in technicolor spandex.
14. City Destroyed, Nobody Cares
You can’t have a good Gojira movie without the titular lizard beast tearing deliciously-cinematic shreds out of the nearest city. It’s just not as interesting to watch him rampage through wasteland except when there’s another monster to fight, plus Gojira/Godzilla isn’t really a good guy. A bit of property damage is par for course.
Meanwhile, we have the heroic Power Rangers having weekly Zord battles within the city limits, knocking down skyscrapers and tearing up streets with massive energy attacks. Even the Megazord’s footfalls have to causing masses of damage, to say nothing or when it gets thrown through entire buildings or blows up the monster in a megaton explosion. And then the citizens of Angel Grove just pick bits of dead space monster out of their hair and martinis, merrily going about their day as if two colossal titans hadn’t just demolished the financial district and half of Chinatown. The city is apparently none the worse for wear, with everyone going right back to their business only minutes later.
We get that this happens every week for these people, but this isn’t some minor inconvenience on your daily commute; this is your home city being steadily demolished. Some series have the sense to move the gargantuan battles into the desert or some other wide open space, but so many others see no problem with having these fights right in the middle of conveniently wide, empty streets. Forget being hailed as heroes; the Rangers are causing just as much damage as they’re preventing.
13. Really Terrible Secret Identities
In the series when the Rangers are supposed to be keeping their identities a secret…they absolutely suck at it. Good thing that everyone in this universe possesses the average deductive reasoning of a goldfish with learning difficulties.
Hey, see that close group of young folk? The ones wearing color-coded outfits, who always vanish whenever there’s trouble? Going out on a limb here, but they’re probably the Power Rangers. It gets worse depending on the series, with the prize perhaps going to the original Mighty Morphin crowd. Not only did they make their chosen color painfully obvious in everything they wore, they also publicly honed their martial arts skills at the gym. Even nerdy Billy just jumped right on that pec deck while Kimberly was only a few feet away performing flips and cartwheels, Jason twirling a bo-staff in the corner. And then their wrist communicators would beep in perfect sync. Cue them grouping together like a herd of conspicuous gazelles and moving to the corner to have an extremely audible chat to their shared fairy godmother.
The Rangers never seem to pull this off well; the Mystic Force ditch the shop they’re supposed to be minding en masse whenever there’s a crisis, as do the Ninja Storm and Jungle Fury Rangers. Look, guys, you’re the only line of defense against the whole world being annihilated. Shouldn’t that justify you taking this up full time?
12. Every Fight = Mass Vanishings
Hey, speaking of conserving their secret identities…what’s with every fight existing in this empty, timeless void?
The original gang at least glanced left and right before they screamed dinosaur words at the top of their lungs. Later seasons have them just sauntering up to the monster in these massive open spaces devoid of all human life, conveniently letting them morph right there and then. Never mind that there could be people watching from balconies, or corners, or inside any of the surrounding buildings. Superman has a phone booth, Batman has a cave…the Power Rangers have hastily whispered prayers that there isn’t some kid with a camera phone just out of frame.
One episode of Mystic Force has two of the Rangers scolded by their mentor for morphing in front of a security camera, as if this team didn’t have some sort of contractual obligation to transform in wide open plazas.
Meanwhile, there’s never any sort of death toll from innocent civilians turned to paste underneath the Megazord’s mighty metal boots, or blown to steaming bits by a particularly dramatic round of posing. Inner city streets all seem to be designed as sixteen-lane dual carriageways wider than a football field and all ending in T-junctions; just imagine turning at those lights without your morning commute turning into a game of dodgem cars. Better hope you’re in one of the seven right lanes when your exit is coming up, or that family outing is swiftly turning into a full-blown road trip.
Fortunately this is offset by two things: first, get stuck in a traffic jam for long enough and that street is probably turning into the stage for a Zord V Monster battle. And second: all cars vanish from reality shortly afterwards.
The Meta Reason: Huddling behind a solid obstacle just isn’t as dramatic as loudly transforming in the open…and Megazord fights with the combatants constantly bumping their elbows on skyscrapers would kind of kill the vibe.
11. 6 V 1, Rangers Still Lose
With a few notable exceptions, the bad guys on Power Rangers look dumb. They actually seems to be getting worse as time goes on- compare Rita and Lord Zedd to, say…Poisandra– so you can’t blame this on the nineties either. The trope is here, it’s sticking around, get used to it.
And then you see one of these blocky, clunky, cumbersome villains in a straight-up fight against master martial artists in tight jumpsuits, and the show expects us to accept that the bad guy can trounce them all. With a significant numbers disadvantage, no less.
There’s only so many times you can watch five or six nimble heroes dance around a bad guy with cinder blocks for limbs and accept that they can’t land a hit. This just goes to show that having superior numbers in a fight can work against the heroes just as it does the mooks, but seriously…Pudgy Pig? Really, people? You can’t just run around him in circles until he collapses from a coronary?
They may try to pull the wool over your eyes with tricky camera angles, but it’s not quite enough to stop you noticing the all the good guys are throwing themselves one at a time at this polystyrene-suited monstrosity and somehow still losing. Even worse, there’s always at least one Ranger with a ranged weapon who totally forgets it. What, you’re still worrying about chivalry when it’s six versus one? Just shoot it in the back, save yourself the embarrassment of having your butts handed to you by any of these things.
10. No One Ever Spots the Formula
Every show has its formula, even if it’s harder to spot in the better stories.
Meanwhile, Power Rangers is nothing but formula. It’s part of what makes the show endearing, but it’s also slightly grating when you think about how the same thing happens to these teenagers every single dang week, and they never see it coming.
“MAGIC WAND, MAKE MY MONSTER GROW!” Rita screeches as she uses the power of stock footage to zap her clay creation, causing it to swell to Kaiju-size. Sure, you can’t see the Rangers’ faces due to their helmets, but you can tell: they’re surprised by this, every time. Who could possibly have expected that one of them would contract an episodic problem, Rita would create a monster conveniently based around that problem, they’d get trashed by said monster, return with extra power, strategy or a MacGuffin to destroy it and whoa, it’s big now!
At least Samurai subverts this by having the monsters automatically turn big when killed as a sort of second form, but that reeks of a tired trope dragging itself through the mud and collapsing into a cozy chair.
We get why the Power Rangers don’t just summon the Megazord and step on the bad guys when they’re regular sized- Zordon is solidly against that kind of thing- but there’s no reason the villains don’t. Upgrading your monster from fun-size to Kaiju-special carries no risk; it literally just makes them bigger and stronger. But no, Lord Zedd, that’s fine. Just zap a freakin’ vase with your magic lightning and act shocked when it’s unable to take down six rangers by itself.
9. The Military is Useless
The Power Rangers sure are powerful, what with their arsenal of giant robots, shiny suits and blunt weapons that look like oversized Fisher Price toys.
You know what else is powerful? A gun. It might not mesh well with the kid-friendly tone, but just once it would’ve been nice to see the day saved by a bystander with a well-placed shotgun blast to a monster’s face.
In fact, it’s never made incredibly clear just how the Power Rangers are more powerful than the defenders Earth already has. In fact, as soon as the Rangers show up, Earth’s militaries seem more than happy to leave all of this world saving to the mysterious, brightly-colored martial artists.
While the Power Rangers are content to meet each new threat as it comes, we can’t help feel like a tactical nuke strike on Rita’s moon palace might have cleared up a lot of problems, and fast. The Rangers in every series (sans when they’re a government-sanctioned force, like in Lightspeed Rescue or RPM) are just left alone, like the army is totally okay with being constantly shown up by technicolor teens who can’t finish a fight without learning a life lesson.
And we do see the Rangers beaten on occasion. Countdown to Destruction even had a full-scale (and successful) invasion of Earth, and not so much as the local bobby mounts an iota of resistance. It’s like this is a universe where mankind invented karate and decided ‘whoa now, that’s it. That’s as far as we’re going. Humanity’s greatest weapon shall forevermore be that of spin kicks. We shall prepare our food with karate chops and plow our fields with friendship.’
No wonder everyone goes nuts when the Power Rangers show up with their big plastic toys.
8. Everyone’s a Test Tube Baby
This one zig-zags up and down throughout the franchise, but it still remains a constant across about 95% of the characters: no one has parents.
Seriously. It’s like we’re looking at an alternate universe where babies are grown in a lab and raised in battery farms, because even with the Power Rangers putting their lives on the line constantly, their families barely ever scrape a mention. This perfectly explains Bulk and Skull’s emotional issues, and…other issues, but really, how much do we know about any of their home lives? For the original Mighty Morphin bunch, their whole existence seemed to revolve around school, or the juice bar. These are teenagers, remember; they presumably have to go home at some point, have dinner with the family, attend weddings and funerals and just generally interact with their parents and siblings while keeping it a secret they they’ve been recruited into an ancient magical robot war. And yet it pretty much never comes up; if we see a Ranger at home, it’s nothing more than a set-piece.
If a parent or other family member has play a large role, it had better be an absolutely massive deal. RPM Red Ranger Scott Truman has a dad, but only because he’s in the same line of work as the Rangers and their identities aren’t an issue. Tyler from Dino Charge spends an entire season searching for his missing father, who eventually turns out to be a Power Ranger himself.
It’s odd that a franchise that spends so much time trying to hammer good morals into the heads of children almost completely skips anything to do with family.
7. Their World is Our World (and that’s ridiculous)
Power Rangers is no stranger to tangled continuity. Ninja Storm pretty conclusively established itself in a universe where Power Rangers are comic book characters, only to have all that awkwardly retconned into the main universe. Each series is mainly standalone, with the power always coming from a different source, though that one can be explained away by the Morphing Grid.
And then there are elements introduced into this universe that are utterly baffling, with Lost Galaxy being the chief culprit. The main premise is that humanity is getting sick of all this monster attack nonsense, so they build an intergalactic spaceship the size of a city, that also happens to be carrying an actual city inside a glass dome on the top, and traverse the cosmos in search of a new home.
Okay then! Even with technology salvaged from all those alien attacks, that’s a tall order. It gets much worse when you look at Earth in every series since then, and you see that everything else is totally normal. The Dino Charge Rangers are still taking selfies on their smartphones in a world where mankind has established a colony in another galaxy. Did everyone get bored of deep space exploration and decide that Angry Birds was a higher priority?
Lightspeed Rescue attempts to continue the trend with the Rangers piloting high-tech (and man-made) Thunderbirds style rescue vehicles, but this is a series not well-known for its budget. You know they eventually had to sweep that whole ‘space colony’ thing under the rug and go back to everyone working in pizza parlors, or…listening to their Discmans.
6. Why Don’t Past Teams Help??
While we’re on the subject on continuity and the twisted version of it given to us by Power Rangers, let’s talk past teams. Generally, the series is pretty good about finishing a series and removing the Rangers from the fray for a new team to step in, barring the obligatory team-ups. The original Mighty Morphin crew gradually passed on their powers/had them upgraded/had them destroyed. Way down the line in Dino Thunder, the team uses all their remaining power to annihilate the villain, rendering them powerless, which is also used a few times. And then we have teams like RPM, who are stuck in their own dimension, and Time Force, who are from way in the future.
But what about the teams who still have their powers? You can’t have flashy team-up episodes without some explanation as to what the past Ranger teams have been doing, and it sucks out a lot of the drama when you remember that if this current team fails, there are a good few dozen Rangers who’ll jump into the fray instead.
So what if the Ninja Steel Rangers are defeated? The Mystic Force are still knocking about. Heck, call in the Dino Charge and Jungle Fury teams; none of them ever lost their powers at the end. The Legendary Battle even showed that every Ranger team can return when they’re needed, apropos of nothing. Why are we still pretending that the Power Rangers in the title are humanity’s last hope?
5. Sure, Just Sit Around and Wait for the Bad Guys
‘Villains act, heroes react’.
That’s how the phrase goes, and nowhere is it stretched further than Power Rangers. Often the team knows exactly where the enemy base is; they just don’t do anything about it.
Look, Rangers, being the good guys doesn’t mean you have to be entirely passive. Every team of Power Rangers is essentially embroiled in their own personal war, and wars aren’t won by letting an enemy with infinite resources attack again and again. That’s a fine way of drastically increasing evil’s chance of victory, since they only have to win once and it’s all over.
The show has tried mixing up the formula a bit over the years- sticking the villains in an inaccessible dimension, a roaming spaceship or just screwing humanity so badly that the Rangers have no choice but to babysit their home city, lest they return to find its citizens chargrilled – but it always ends in the same way. The monster attacks, the monster is destroyed, the episodic problem is resolved and then there’s a freeze-frame ending with everyone laughing. Probably at Bulk and Skull falling into a cake, if we’re lucky (if not, it’s a terrible pun).
And yet the Rangers always seem to miss out on the greatest life lesson of all: if you know your enemy is about to attack again, and soon, it’s totally okay to jump inside your giant combining mecha and murder the bad guys where they live, preferably while they’re asleep.
Confucius definitely said that.
4. Even Pure Evil Has Standards…Somehow
As we’re reminded on many an occasion, the villains in this series are almost all pure evil. There’s little room for grey morality in Power Rangers, especially when you see evil energy. Seriously, it’s all purple and stuff.
Pretty much every bad guy knows they’re evil and revels in the fact. And hey, good for them making solid life choices, but not every villain is also a brain-dead numbskull, so you’d think they’d try to live up to their evil ways a little bit more. How? Maybe by relying on more underhanded tactics than an episodic magic spell that makes one of the Rangers act weird, that’s how.
Almost never do the villains seek to cause harm to the Rangers when they’re most vulnerable, even when their secret identities are well-known. Rita and Lord Zedd spend most of their opening scenes perving on what the Ranger teens are doing and making snide remarks, but never once does it occur to them to wait until Trini is asleep and carpet bomb her house. Not a single episode has Squatt and Baboo waiting until Billy steps into the shower before shanking him in the kidney.
Most Rangers are normal humans when separated from their morphing apparatus, but apparently being literally pure evil afflicts every villain with a mysterious brain tumor that causes them to forget that explosions, bullets and being stepped on kills people.
The Meta Reason: Do we really need to spell this one out? At least the Rita in the movie seems to be finally sidestepping this one.
3. Every Evil Plan is Basically the Same
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk villain plans. Or rather, a conspicuous lack of them.
90% of bad guy plots in the Power Rangers universe are thus: a series of attacks of exactly the same magnitude, on exactly the same area, and almost never more than one at a time. The Rangers would be utterly screwed when facing more than one weekly villain at a time, since it’s usually all they can do to avoid being stomped by one of them.
We get that outsourcing is the greatest vice of all in fictional villainy, but PR villains take the cake for this one and hork it right down while they’re chewing the scenery. Rita gets headaches from her lackeys and their constant losses, but she just keeps chucking them into the fray regardless, like she’s trying to fill up her stamp card (free coffee and aneurysm with every tenth colossal failure). Even after the slightly more fiendish plots are rumbled and the Rangers have curb-stomped the monster with their superweapon/laser cannons/moral speeches, the bad guys won’t just let their hapless henchmen die. The monster is dragged back into this mortal coil to be horrible murdered a second time at the hands of a giant robot rather than a bunch of teenagers armed with pep and quips.
Sometimes there are attempts to justify the drip tactics- Dino Charge and Jungle Fury each try to lampshade it- but mostly, the main villains are flummoxed as to why their streams of identical threats are continually thwarted.
2. The Sixth Ranger Black Hole Syndrome
The Power Rangers are a team, you guys. They win battles with the power of their friendship. Teamwork is the greatest superpower of all! Together, they’re stronger!
Except when there’s a new Ranger on the scene; then, any Ranger who isn’t rocking the red duds can sway in the background for the rest of the series, because there are new toys to sell. A new Power Ranger is a big deal, even if we see it coming a mile off. Often entire arcs are devoted to a sixth (or just extra) Ranger joining the team, and there’s about a 9000% guarantee that their debut battle is going to have them wrecking the bad guys in short order. And the next battle. And the next one. Aaaaaand the one after that.
Wait, sorry, who’s the girl on the right? She hasn’t said anything for the last six episodes. And did the team always have a blue Ranger? It’s honestly hard to tell, what with the new team members sucking the attention like a spandex-clad black hole and being head-and-shoulders above the rest of the team for no good reason.
Later seasons have either toned this one down or even turned it on its head, with the new addition fading from relevance as soon as their arc concludes (sorry, Tyzonn…but you weren’t that interesting to begin with). Meanwhile, it ran rampant in earlier seasons, totally undercutting the team aspect of the series by making out one member to be of paramount importance and skill.
Seriously, watch the original Mighty Morphin after Tommy was introduced. All he needed to do was sell a few toys, and suddenly every Ranger who wasn’t Green/White could easily be renamed ‘Talking Props 1-5’.
1. No Need For Training, We Have Tights
The Power Rangers are Earth’s defenders, ready and willing to leap into the fray and put their lives on the line at a moment’s notice. One slip up means the end of everything, and practically every single one of their confrontations comes down to the wire.
It’s just too bad that the Rangers never seem interested in preparing. Unless it’s specifically their full-time job to be defenders of the Earth, they mostly treat this whole ‘Power Ranger’ thing like it’s a night pottery class. You go along, you do your part and take it seriously, but there’s no reason it should cut into your schoolwork and martial arts tournaments. A majority of Power Rangers are untrained before taking up the job; Mighty Morphin’s Billy Cranston was just a surprisingly well-built nerd, RPM’S Ziggy Grover is a skinny ex-criminal who got his powers entirely by accident (and really sucked at using them), plus so many more Power Rangers were just handed immense power and control of a giant robot because…well, they were there. At least the original crowd practiced martial arts in their down time, but that was a pre-existing hobby; you couldn’t exactly say the same about their powers or Zords.
Alright, so the resident mentor is desperate and hands the power to the first group of teens who walk through the door. If that’s the case, why don’t they ever practice? It’s a blue moon of a moment to see the Rangers logging any genuine training time, seemingly relying on the suit and nothing else. And from how many times we’ve seen people be genuinely bad Power Rangers to begin with (Ziggy, the old New Zealand guy who was inexplicably the purple Ranger for a few days) or just make really poor tactical decisions (every single one of them, in every episode) you’d think Zordon would at least arrange for some kind of extra classes; ‘Battling the Forces of Evil 101’. Even after veteran Ranger Tommy returns in Dino Thunder, he doesn’t see fit to give his young protégés any training. Not so much as a spin kick primer.
A couple of hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings really isn’t much to ask when it could make the difference between life, and death at the hands of a pig in a centurion helmet.
The Meta Reason: We can’t have the Rangers winning easily, especially when there’s homework that needs doing.