[SPOILERS for Power Rangers ahead.]
Jason David Frank originated the role of Tommy Oliver aka. the Green Ranger on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show in the early 1990s and has since reprised the character several times over, on subsequent Power Rangers TV series (including, Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo and Power Rangers DinoThunder). Now Frank has added his two cents to the ongoing discussion about what gender the new version of Tommy should be, when the character is introduced in the rebooted Power Rangers movie franchise.
Power Rangers lays out a rebooted origin story for the five core Mighty Morphin protagonists (Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Trini and Zack) on the big screen, but also includes a mid-credits scene that opens the door for Tommy to join the fun in the sequel. Dacre Montgomery, who plays Jason in the movie, has revealed that he and his fellow Ranger actors have agreed that Tommy should be female, in order to make the eventual six Ranger team equal, in terms of gender representation.
Both longtime and freshly-minted Power Rangers fans (naturally) have different opinions, concerning whether or not a character as iconic to the franchise as Tommy should be gender-switched in the reboot film series. Frank was asked about the matter during an interview with THR, wherein he noted that Tommy’s popularity only makes this particular discussion all the more meaningful for fans:
“I’m still Tommy for now! The Green Ranger is going to fill my shoes. But I still have my own shoes I’m wearing. The Green Ranger kicks butt. The Green Ranger has always been the most popular.”
Although Frank didn’t take a firm stance on the issue of Tommy’s gender during his THR interview, he expressed his confidence that whatever final decision Saban head Haim Saban makes, it will be the “right” one. That being said, Frank’s comments indicate that he is certainly open to the possibility of the new version of the Tommy Oliver character being a young woman:
“No matter what Haim Saban does, people are going to love it. He would not allow something that fans will not like. After watching the movie, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. It doesn’t matter if you’re female or you’re male. No matter what, when you’re in that spandex, and in that suit you are a superhero.”
While Power Rangers may have mixed success with its efforts to modernize the franchise as a whole, the way the film “updates” the Rangers themselves – mixing up the ethnicities of certain Power Rangers, having Billy (RJ Cyler) be on the autism spectrum and/or having Trini openly be a member of the LGBTQI community – are all (arguably) among the movie’s stronger creative choices. The chances of a Power Rangers sequel getting green-lit are looking good right now (based on the movie reboot’s box office performance) so whatever happens with the casting of Tommy, hopefully it too will be a welcome step forward into the future for the larger Power Rangers brand.