Who else here is ready for Power Rangers?! It’s been a long time coming for the series about five teenagers with attitude who use their power armor and giant mechs to save the world from evil. ’80s nostalgia has been all the rage in the movie industry recently, with films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Red Dawn, and the Karate Kid all getting big-budget remakes. Well, now it’s the ’90s turn to shine; where better to start than Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers?
We completely understand that the 2017 movie is an adaption of the show and that it’s not going to play out scene for scene the same as the show’s pilot episode. Besides, the writers and director have a literal ton of material to work with; the show has been on the air since 1993 and is currently in its twenty-second series! Twenty four years is a long time to build the lore of the show. It also allows fans to hop on the bandwagon at vastly different times; a fan from 1994 is going to see the show completely differently than someone who started watching in 2008. This leads to many misconceptions across the board. But that’s why we’re here! Let’s set the record straight by pointing out 15 Things everybody Gets Wrong About Power Rangers!
15. The 1995 film wasn’t a “big budget” adaptation
After the massive success of Power Rangers in the early ’90s, it was only a matter of time before a movie was made. With a cash cow this big, there’s no way they’d let another opportunity to create new merchandise slip by! After the show’s second season it was announced that the cast would be participating in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie. The story delivered everything fans could ask for; it had upgraded costumes, a new villain more powerful than Rita and Zedd, new Zords, and as much action as possible.
But if you take off your nostalgia glasses, you’ll realize that this wasn’t the “big budget” version of Power Rangers everyone wanted. This was the very first Power Rangers entry that didn’t have any recycled Super Sentai footage to work with, and the showrunners had to make up for that cost elsewhere. The movie was made for only $15 million and it certainly shows.
Let’s start with the Ranger’s “upgraded” costumes: those things were so cheap that they didn’t even survive the entire filming process, with pieces falling off constantly and the White Ranger’s suit having visible repair after a stuntman ripped the crotch. In fact, they specifically wrote the story so the Rangers would spend most of the movie unmorphed to avoid any major damage.
14. The show is not always lighthearted and campy
No, we’re not talking about the fan film Power/Rangers (which was pretty awesome, by the way). We’re talking about the original show. Upon first glance, one would wonder how a series about superheroes in colorful costumes who can’t speak without moving their arms could be taken seriously at all. The Power Rangers series was known for its almost self-aware levels of campiness and fun, with plot holes galore, jokes that would be rejected by a low-level sitcom, and fight scenes that were horribly edited.
There have been some surprisingly dark and serious moments in the show’s twenty-four year history. The entire series of Power Rangers RPM took place in an alternate future where a computer virus had wiped out most of humanity. The few remaining humans were either holed up in survivor’s colonies or enslaved by their cybernetic overlords.
Lost Galaxy featured the Magna Defender, a character whose sole purpose was hunting down the villain that killed his young son.
In Time Force we find out that the main villain, Ransik, murdered the doctor that saved him from a deadly poison, put his dying conscious into a robot, and then forced the robot to serve him. When the henchman went rogue, Ransik lobotomized him.
13. The Red Ranger doesn’t always lead the team
It’s tradition that the Red Ranger is the leader of the team, right? Whoever is donning the color is generally the “main character” of the season’s main plot and acts as the glue holding the group of Rangers together. Jason, Andros, Tommy, T.J., Cole, and Carter were all the team leaders during their respective seasons as the Red Ranger. But why red? We’re not sure, exactly. Maybe that’s just what tests best with the demographics that watch the show? Or maybe Saban just really likes the color red?
There have been a few occasions where the show has broken away from this trope. The first was season two and three of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. These Rangers were led by Tommy Oliver, the former Green Ranger who had returned as the new White Ranger of light.
In the spin-off/mini series that came between MMPR and Zeo this trend looked to continue; Delphine of Aquitar (also the White Ranger) was the leader of the Alien Rangers. The show reverted back to the tradition of the Red Ranger leader until Time Force where Jen Scotts, the Pink Ranger, acted as the leader of the time-traveling police force from the future.
12. Kimberly didn’t stay for the entire duration of MMPR
When you ask people who their favorite MMPR character is, Kimberly is right up there. She was the first crush of many ’90s kids, had some of the better stories on the show, and kicked butt to boot! The Pink Ranger became a fan favorite on the show, and even the trailers for the new movie seem to focus on her more than many of her fellow Rangers. Also, unlike so many of her teammates, Kimberly was there from the very beginning up until the very end. Right?
Wrong. Everybody remembers that Jason, Zach, and Trini got replaced by Rocky, Adam, and Aisha in season two. They also remember that Tommy wasn’t around for the first twenty or so episodes of MMPR. But there’s this misconception that often comes up claiming that Kimberly made it all the way to Zeo, alongside Billy, as the only original cast members to make it through the entire show.
They’re partially right; Kimberly lasted all the way up to the final eight episodes of season 3. However, she moves away to Florida to be with her parents, and Catherine becomes the Pink Ranger for the duration of the show. This means that Billy is the only character to be present from “Day of the Dumpster” (the pilot) through “Rangers in Reverse” (the final episode of MMPR).
11. Saban hasn’t always owned Power Rangers
What would the Power Rangers be without Haim Saban? The media mogul (the founder of Saban Entertainment) was the one who originally funded the show and got it airing in the U.S. This company has given us no shortage of shows based on old Japanese footage – Big Bad Beetleborgs, Kamen Rider, and VR Troopers all came from the same place as Power Rangers. Today the show is branded as Saban’s Power Rangers in all of its official marketing and logos, including the promos for the new movie.
However, there was an eight-year period in which Saban didn’t own the rights to the show. After Time Force, the Fox Family channel and all of its programming was purchased by Disney. The Mouse wanted nothing to do with Power Rangers; they canceled the show after Wild Force and only brought it back when producers offered them extreme cost-cutting measures to keep it going. They got all the way up to Jungle Fury before they tried to can it once more.
However, the Jetix channel stepped in and offered to fund one final season (RPM). At the end of Power Rangers RPM they cancelled the show once and for all, leaving it dormant until Saban Entertainment re-purchased the franchise in 2011. Thank God they did; not only have the Neo-Saban seasons of the show been a vast improvement over some of the Disney ones, but we probably wouldn’t be getting a new movie without it!
10. Most Power Rangers actors actually have a decent career after they leave the show
It’s kinda become an in-joke that the actors who appear on Power Rangers do so because they don’t have the talent for better projects. We get it: some of the acting in the show is awful. Like, really awful. And it’s not exactly reassuring to see that actors like David Yost (Billy Cranston) and Christopher Khayman Lee (Andros) have basically fallen off the map on everything non-Ranger related. While it’s true that for every one Ranger who makes it, five fall into obscurity, some former Power Rangers actors have had good careers since leaving the show.
We know that Bryan Cranston is the big one that everyone points out, so we’ll just mention him in passing and focus on the others. Rose McIver is arguably the one people would know right now; since departing Power Rangers RPM the actress has had recurring roles in the hit shows Once Upon a Time and Masters of Sex. McIver really hit the spotlight when she snagged the lead role on the CW’s iZombie as the titular character. Eka Darville, also from RPM, currently plays Malcolm on Jessica Jones.
Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly) has seen herself in a starring role in the show Felicity as well as Flashpoint and Covert Affairs in between focusing on her musical career. Even Jason David Frank, who really doesn’t have any acting credits outside of the Power Rangers series, has made a career for himself as a minor league MMA fighter.
9. The seasons after In Space are not all self-contained
Power Rangers in Space was intended to be the final season of the series. It wrapped up all the loose ends from the Mighty Morphin days and literally went out with a bang, killing off Zordon and all of the Ranger’s enemies. However, the final half of the season garnered decent ratings and Saban wanted to keep the franchise going. To skirt the issue, they started doing soft reboots of the show every season, with a new cast and a new story every season that remained self-contained.
That being the case, many people think that all post-In Space episodes are completely self-contained and don’t hold any connections to the old canon. That is completely false; even the more recent Power Rangers seasons have callbacks to past ones.
The biggest two examples of this are Power Rangers Super Megaforce and Power Rangers Dino Thunder. One of the gimmicks of Super Megaforce was that the Rangers could use their “Legendary Ranger Keys” to morph into past Power Rangers. This meant that we once again got to see the costumes and powers that were featured in all of the seasons past. The finale of the show culminated with every single Power Ranger from the past (Mighty Morphin’ through Super Samurai) returning to help the Megaforce team take on the full-scale invasion from the Warstar Empire.
8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers wasn’t based off of the first Super Sentai series
It’s easy to imagine that Power Rangers and Super Sentai have a parallel history to each other. A majority of the in-costume footage from Power Rangers comes from old Sentai footage, meaning that one cannot exist without the other. The Rangers have been around for twenty-four years, which is unprecedented for a children’s show. Super Sentai must have got its start just before Power Rangers then, right?
Believe it or not Super Sentai has been going on for forty years with no end in sight! The show premiered in 1975 with Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, which was immensely different from anything else in the franchise. This one focused on five agents of the anti-terrorist organization EAGLE who survived an attack that wiped out the rest of the team. They are equipped with special suits of armor and given vehicles (what we’d call Zords) that they use to fight against the plots of the evil Black Cross Army. With its kung fu and original Star Trek levels of special effects, the show became a hit in Japan.
7. It wasn’t a sure-fire hit
As hard as it is to believe, the Power Rangers series was viewed as a very risky experiment at the time of its creation. For starters, producers were worried that studios wouldn’t bite simply because the show was much more violent than many children’s programs at the time. There was also concern at how spliced footage from two separate shows was going to form something coherent enough for kids to follow. Saban Entertainment had to shop the show around before they could find anyone willing to take the risk; finally landing on the Fox Kids lineup of Saturday morning cartoons.
Even after Power Rangers had a network home, there were reservations about the franchise. After the mega-hit first three seasons of Might Morphin’ Power Rangers and Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo and Power Rangers in Space saw consistently dwindling ratings. This led to Saban attempting to scrap the series at the end of In Space.
Even after the ratings bump from “Countdown to Destruction,” things looked grim for the Power Rangers during Lost Galaxy, as Saban was producing three other shows at the time and didn’t have much money to allocate for Power Rangers.
6. Rangers have definitely died before
With a show as successful as Power Rangers, you’d assume that they’d try to stick as close to its formula as possible. This was definitely the case after the show moved to self-contained seasons: The Rangers would start as a team of three or five, fight their way through half a season, and then get joined by a more powerful sixth Ranger that was usually evil. Along the way they would get new Zords, weapons, and powers while plodding along within the disjointed overarching plot. After the switch, the entire team would generally last an entire season without changes to the roster.
On the rare occasions that roster changes were made, the writers took Power Rangers down a new path – a path of mortality. At the beginning of the Time Force season, the villainous Ransik did something that no other villain had done: he killed a Power Ranger. The series opens with the death of the original Red Ranger at the hands of Ransik as the rest of the team looks on horrified; this influenced the rest of the show, as the new Red Ranger was constantly brushed off because he could never “replace” the original.
In Lost Galaxy, Kendrix (the show’s Pink Ranger) nobly sacrifices herself by rushing into a vortex of power and destroying its energy source. The resulting blast disintegrates her; she reappears as a ghost shortly after, says her goodbyes, and leaves her morpher behind for her replacement. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid’s show…
5. The powers and Zords didn’t always come from magic
In the early days of the Power Rangers, Zordon and Rita acted as the source of exposition in every episode. Whenever the Rangers would get a new power or Zord, their mentor would simply explain it away as him remembering some source of ancient power that he had somehow forgotten about all these years. Even the morphing grid and the Zeo Crystal, objects that were critical to the Rangers’ powers, never fully got explained and were just kind of there to act as a MacGuffin. Over the course of the series the Power Rangers were able to tap into the morphing grid using ancient magical morphers that their mentor usually provided.
However, some of the teams didn’t rely on magic whatsoever. The first team to be heavily tech-based was the one in Lightspeed Rescue. Here, both the morphers and the Zords are built by humans rather than being of unknown origin. This trend was continued by both Power Rangers SPD and Power Rangers RPM. This plot point added another layer to the show, as the Rangers couldn’t simply rely on their mentor to summon a random power out of thin air on a moment’s notice.
4. The action scenes were not all filmed in Japan
One of the reasons that Power Rangers has endeared for so long is because of the way it is made. You know the drill: scenes without a helmet are filmed in the U.S. with American actors while all of the action scenes with costumes and Zords are recycled Super Sentai footage. So far, it’s worked; in most of the newer seasons it’s difficult to tell the difference between what scenes have been filmed where.
But even back in the Zordon Era, some of the footage of the Rangers in costume was made specifically for American audiences. The first season played it pretty standard, with only scenes in which the Rangers interact with a Power Rangers specific character being filmed in the U.S.
As the show went on this became more and more difficult to do; in seasons 2 and 3, the White Ranger’s costume was taken from a different Super Sentai series. This meant that any scene in which the White Ranger was on screen with the rest of the team or fighting one of the villains like Goldar (whose counterpart was only in one season of Super Sentai) or Lord Zedd, it was newly-shot footage.
3. There was no secret racism to the original Power Rangers
This is a hot-button issue that has plagued Power Rangers fans since the ’90s: Was the original show racist? The Rangers all had their own unique colors; Jason was red, Billy was blue, Zach was black, Kimberly was pink, Trini was yellow, and Tommy was green. Sounds good, right? Well, some people like to point out that the show had the Asian-American actress playing the Yellow Ranger and the African-American actor playing the Black Ranger, implying subtle racism.
But this was never the case! The original showrunners have since come out and said that this was a simple oversight on their part. Walter Jones (who played Zach in the original show) repeated these sentiments during an interview not to long ago, reminding us that in the original pilot of the show, Trini was played by a Latino actress. It was only when the Yellow Ranger actress was replaced with Thuy Trang that people began to raise their eyebrows.
The new movie pokes fun at this misconception by having Adam (played by Ludi Lin) exclaim “I’m black!” when their power coins start to grow, prompting Billy (played by RJ Cycler) to get upset and say “No you’re not!”
2. The Power Rangers are not always teenagers
At the beginning of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers intro Zordon tells Alpha 5 to bring him “five teenagers with attitude!” Being in high school is a major trope for the superhero genre; it allows us to follow the heroes through their own coming-of-age tales while also offering writers easy opportunities to switch up the status quo. Seriously, how many of the Power Rangers left the team because they were going off to college or their parents were moving away? The 2017 film looks to follow this trend, with all of their characters dealing with the normal problems of the everyday high schooler.
Though most of the Power Rangers seasons follow this trend, the Rangers are not always teenagers. In fact, since the end of Power Rangers in Space there have been more adult rangers than teenagers! Some series still stick with the “coming-of-age” trope; Ninja Storm, Dino Thunder, Operation Overdrive, and Ninja Steel are the big ones that still use teenagers instead of young adults.
In some cases, being a Power Ranger is a job that one can choose! In Lightspeed Rescue, Time Force and SPD the characters chose to be Power Rangers as part of their career and served on a rescue team or an intergalactic police force.
1. It’s not a direct adaption of Super Sentai
This is probably the biggest misconception that casual fans of the show have. Take a look at this picture again. Most people would ask, “When did Tommy join up with a different group of Rangers? How come I don’t remember this Power Rangers team?” Well, the answer is that the character you see is not Tommy Oliver at all. That is Kou, a 9-year old boy who became the Kibaranger in Gosei Sentai Dairanger. Yep, the original White Ranger wasn’t even a teenager! In fact, aside from the White Ranger and some of the Zords, this Super Sentai season didn’t get adapted for American audiences at all!
Despite what some may think, Power Rangers is in no way, shape, or form a direct adaption of Super Sentai. If you went back and watched many of the Sentai shows that Saban took their footage from, they would be completely unrecognizable. Every single season of Power Rangers features completely original characters and storylines that were made to fit around whatever Zords and costumes that Sentai had footage of. Even the villains who appeared in both shows like Goldar, Rita, and Diabolico were given totally different names and characterizations in America. If you’re a diehard fan of Power Rangers, you should definitely go back and watch all of the Super Sentai episodes to get a double dose of mighty morphin’ action!
Well, did you know all these facts about the Power Rangers? Did we clarify any misconceptions that you had about the show? Are you excited for the new movie? Let us know in the comments!