Any '90s kid worth their salt knows all about the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the one true version of the Power Rangers. They were the coolest thing on television at the time, mixing superheroes, monsters, giant robots, and explosions into a show that was one of the biggest successes of the decade, leading to toys, movies, clothes, and countless more seasons of the Power Rangers. After witnessing the staying power of the franchise after over two decades on the small screen, it's no surprise that yet another movie adaptation is one the way, one that promises to have slightly higher production values than the 1995 version.
To get you ready for the latest series of teenagers with attitude, here's 11 Things You Didn't Know About Power Rangers.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was based on the Super Sentai series, a popular Japanese superhero show. Rather than remaking the show from the ground up for an American audience, Saban Entertainment chose to use the fight sequences from the already filmed and produced Japanese series. For the most part, the only original footage filmed featured the Rangers outside of their costumes (or at least, without their helmets on).
Taking footage from a Japanese show wasn’t all that easy though, as the writers basically had no idea what was going on in the original Japanese footage. Essentially, they had to figure out a way to get the Rangers to the fight sequences they were using for that particular episode and have it make some sort of sense.
Ask most fans of the original series who their favorite Power Ranger is and the answer is almost always Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger. He had a visually distinctive power suit, a badass dagger flute, and a dragon zord reminiscent of the king of all monsters, Godzilla. So it's not really a surprise to hear that he typically ranks amongst the most popular Power Rangers ever. What may surprise you is that the Green Ranger originally had a very brief character arc and was only supposed to be in the series for a few episodes. During his initial appearance, Saban received a huge amount of fan mail professing love for the newest and coolest ranger. The Green Ranger proved to be so popular with fans that they had no choice but to bring the character on as a series regular.
No word yet on whether a Green Ranger (or some other-colored special ranger) will appear in the live-action film, though we'd bet one will come along at some point — especially if the reboot earns itself a sequel.
Jason David Frank is probably best known for playing the immensely popular Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, and shows up at comic conventions all over the country to this day promoting his appearances on the series. As a result of his character's popularity, JDF has gone on to sport more ranger costumes (and colors) than any other actor, having served as six different rangers over the years: the Green Ranger, White Ranger, White Ninja Ranger, Red Zeo Ranger, Red Turbo Ranger, and Black Dino Ranger.
In the process of all these costume changes, Frank has appeared in over 230 episodes of the series, more than any other actor. He's even appeared in multiple episodes of every true fanboy's favorite web series, Super Power Beat Down. Consider us very much on board for a big screen cameo for JDF in the reboot.
While North American audiences didn’t get a Power Rangers series until 1993, the Super Sentai series on which it was based was very popular in Japan and had been going strong for years, with the theme generally changing each year. It was the 1992 season of Super Sentai, which featured the Dino Rangers, that Saban Entertainment used to base Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on.
Since the show began airing to near-instant success in 1993, there have been 23 subsequent seasons of Rangers fighting evil, with 19 distinct themes, two films, as well as the in-production third film.
While watching the first couple seasons, you may have noticed that Zordon’s head often seemed out of sync with what he was saying, moving in odd ways while he talked. There’s a pretty good reason for that: in order to save money, the producers had David Fielding, the actor who brought Zordon to life, come in to film the character's likeness on only one occasion, where he filmed for a couple of hours and then went on his way.
They put him in makeup, shaved his head, and put him in front of a green screen. The film they got from this session would be used and reused for every subsequent appearance of Zordon, with Fielding only going back to record more dialogue in a sound studio for future episodes.
Zordon’s lair and the base of operations for the Power Rangers looked like something that only an alien would build, but it turns out that the building is actually a real compound found on a college campus.
Located on the Brandeis-Bardin Campus of the American Jewish University in Simi Valley, California, the building — better known as The House of the Book — serves as a meeting and event hall for the school. First opened in 1973, the building sports large stained glass windows and a serious art collection. No word on how often the campus has to deal with people reenacting scenes from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
While the in-costume sequences were imported from Japan, there was still plenty of action scenes that the Rangers could get into that would need the American actors to be on film. As a way to ensure they didn’t need a lot of direction from him — as well as a money-saving method, in all likelihood — Haim Saban made sure the actors they cast as the original Power Rangers were already capable martial artists.
Amy Jo Johnson (the Pink Ranger) and David Yost (the Blue Ranger) were gymnasts, while Frank (the Green Ranger), Walter Jones (the Black Ranger), and Austin St. John (the Red Ranger) were all accomplished martial artists. The show was non-union, which resulted in the cast being involved in some questionable stunts, from a safety standpoint. This, coupled with the low pay they received for their work, would eventually result in some of the original cast leaving the show for good.
While it was an almost instant success in the United States, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers encountered strong opposition in other places around the world. The series was outright banned in New Zealand for its use of violence, and it was heavily edited on many Canadian stations for the same reason. By today's standards of course, the show is far from something that would be considered overly-violent.
Oddly enough, in Malaysia, it wasn’t the violence that got the show in trouble, but rather the word “morphin.” The show was first banned (then shown in an edited format) in the country because officials were concerned that the show would encourage kids to use drugs, since the word “morphin” was so close to “morphine.”
The oftentimes villainous, sometimes good, but almost always ridiculous bullies Bulk and Skull were the series' primary source of comedic relief, though they never seemed like the type of characters capable of leading their own show. However, if Jason Narvy (the actor who played Skull) is to be believed, there were plans in place at one point to give the pair their own series. Narvy has given interviews saying that the proposed spinoff would’ve seen the two running a hotel, an Hispanic Elvis impersonator named Elves would have been a recurring character, and, of course, “wacky things were going to happen.”
From the sound of things, it’s probably a good thing that this idea never went to series.
Taking inspiration from Darth Vader, Lord Zedd was a primary antagonist for the second and third seasons of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Zedd would prove to be a formidable opponent for the Rangers, and he'd only get stronger, as he married the Rangers original villain, Rita Repulsa.
What many kids watching those episodes back in the '90s probably didn’t realize is that Lord Zedd may have been Jewish. During his wedding to Rita, the "Hava Nagila," an Israeli folk song often sung at Jewish weddings, can distinctly be heard in the background. While that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s Jewish, it’s pretty fun to imagine that an evil alien living on the Moon had a bar mitzvah at one point.
Given the success of the television series, it only makes sense that Saban Entertainment wanted to capitalize on that with a movie adaptation. The movie would feature redesigned props and suits in an alternate timeline from the show, giving fans a story that was both fresh and familiar. But the movie's production process was anything but smooth sailing.
Unlike the television show, the movie was comprised of completely original footage, which led to several problems during filming. In addition to that, the script was changing almost constantly, with producer Suzanne Todd reportedly performing heavy rewrites to the script on set while the crew filmed scenes — something that's apparently major news nowadays. Despite all the trouble the movie encountered, it would go on to gross over $66 million against a $15 million budget and was deemed a moderate financial success.
Did we miss any of your favorite Power Rangers factoids? Are you excited for the reboot? Less us know in the comments below.