For more than 20 years, Power Rangers has given audiences a rainbow assortment of color coded superheroes to save the day, both on Earth and across the universe. From the early days of fighting Rita Repulsa to the most recent seasons featuring samurai and ninjas, the franchise has explored villains, heroes, and themes of every variety. Now, Saban is bringing their beloved franchise to the big screen with a whole new cast who are taking us back to where it all started.
To get you ready for the new cinematic iteration, we’ve given you the skinny on just about every original Power Ranger and how they’ve been updated for the big screen. The Yellow Ranger has been making waves as the first out-of-the-closet LGBTQ superhero, and the Blue Ranger will show audiences an autistic hero for kids to look up to. Now, it’s time to learn about another one of the core colors in the Power Rangers series.
Get ready for 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Black Ranger!
Given how long the franchise has been running, you might think that there are a lot of Power Rangers characters who have stuck around for years. With every team featuring an almost entirely new cast of characters since the fifth season of the series, however, there are only four Power Rangers who have episode counts that extend beyond the norm.
Billy Cranston (David Yost), the original Blue Ranger, stuck around the series the longest when it comes to consecutive episodes, with 194 of them under his belt. But for most of that time, he wasn’t an actual Ranger. Beginning as a Blue Ranger in the Mighty Morphin days, he ended up serving as a mentor to the team during the Zeo and Turbo runs of the show before leaving it behind. Amy Jo Johnson left the series in the third season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers having completed 137 episodes, though her character has lived on in her own comic book mini series.
Coming back for more episodes after they left were Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) and Adam Park (Johnny Yong Bosch). While Tommy began the series as the Green Ranger before later becoming both White and Red Rangers, he would return in Dino Thunder years later to mentor a new team as the Black Ranger. The character has made more than 250 appearances across eight different seasons, making him the longest-running character in the series by a wide margin.
Adam, meanwhile, joined the MMPR team when the original Black Ranger left the series. He also appeared in both the Zeo and Turbo seasons as a Green Ranger. Even after passing on his abilities to a new generation, he came back to the series multiple times in his first Power Rangers uniform (black) to help save the day. He’s appeared in 137 episodes overall, but Bosch has also provided his voice to Power Rangers video games, performing as several different characters, including Tommy!
Growing up in the '90s, there were plenty of kids who watched Walter Jones dance his way through the aptly named “hip hop kido” on the show, something created specifically to showcase that the Black Ranger was just as much of a dancer as he was a fighter. Kids were quick to notice his moves and try to imitate him as Zack. Kids might not have been so quick to notice that Jones was missing one of his fingers, though.
The missing finger wasn’t noticeable on the show to most kids, since so many of his fight moves involved closed fists -- and there wasn’t a particular focus on his hands when he wasn’t fighting the Putty Patrol. In costume, the actors who portrayed the characters in the Japanese Sentai version of the show appeared with their five-fingered gloves. Interviewers at various Power Rangers themed conventions over the years have continued to ask Jones about the missing finger after the rumor started that he lost the finger during an accident on the show. That rumor can be put to bed. Jones lost the middle finger on his left hand in an accident when he was just four years old.
When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was in development, the series didn’t have a team that included a fight choreographer like modern superhero shows do. While series like Agents of SHIELD and Arrow choreograph their fight scenes down to the tiniest detail, Power Rangers was a bit more free flowing with its fight sequences.
When the series was in its pre-production stages, the producers decided to cast actors who had skills they could translate to the characters instead of initially finding them stunt doubles. As a result, Amy Jo Johnson and David Yost, who were both gymnasts, were instructed to incorporate gymnastic moves into their fights. Likewise, Walter Jones, who was an experienced dancer in addition to his martial arts background, was asked to incorporate dance moves into his own fights. Jones would make up choreography in between shooting scenes with stunt men who were suited up as Putty Patrollers. His dance moves gave Zack a distinctive style compared to the other Rangers.
Because much of the costumed footage for the Power Rangers series comes from the Japanese Super Sentai series, a lot of the team dynamics transfer over from there. As a result, the Pink and Yellow Rangers, regardless of gender, are usually the lower ranking members of the team, while the Red and Black Rangers are usually the highest. With Red almost always serving as the team leader, Black becomes second in command.
There are a few notable exceptions to this particular rule. Towards the latter end of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' run, it was the White Ranger who became the leader of the team, despite being an addition outside of the core group. Of course, that decision paid off when Austin St. John's Jason, the original Red Ranger, left the series, as it allowed a veteran Ranger to continue to lead the team.
Constantly playing second fiddle to the team leader can lead to in-team jealousy, though, which is something the comic series recently explored.
BOOM! Studios has been publishing its own Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series that fleshes out the storylines that appeared on the '90s television series. In it, the teenagers are given quite a bit more depth than their television counterparts. As a result, the story of the Green Ranger entering the picture, widely regarded as the best story arc of the original show, is made even better.
On the television series, Tommy Oliver was brainwashed by Rita Repulsa into being her very own Power Ranger, until the original team managed to break him out of the trance. In an interesting twist, the comics reveal that Tommy wasn't Rita's first choice to pilot the Dragonzord. Instead, she went after Zack, the Black Ranger, who didn’t appear to be getting the recognition he deserved. Even though it was his quick thinking that saved the day in a big fight, it was the Red Ranger who got the credit in issue #5. Rita sought to exploit that oversight, hoping that he would be feeling inadequate and jealous. Zack surprised her when he turned her down, as he was happy to do his part to save the day, even if he didn’t get the glory. As a result, Rita opted to go after someone who wasn’t already a Power Ranger. Those 5 teenagers with attitude were just too loyal to one another.
When you check out the cast list for the upcoming movie The Order, it’s already pretty impressive for any genre fan. Not only does it include Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation), but also Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) and George Lazenby (James Bond). In addition to those big names, the film also features a ton of Power Rangers alumni.
Two of the franchise’s Black Rangers will be reuniting for the film, which follows a group of vigilantes who discover that some of their teammates have turned on them. Original Black Ranger Walter Jones is set to appear in the film, as is Azim Rizk, who played one of the most recent Black Rangers in Power Rangers Megaforce.
Former Yellow Ranger Karan Ashley and Zordon himself, David J. Fielding, teamed up to write the script, and they're also serving as producers on the film. While it’s not officially affiliated with the Power Rangers franchise, it's shaping up to be a must-watch for fans of the long-running series.
Though colors like Red, Blue, and Yellow have featured both male and female characters in the Power Rangers roles, the color scheming of the series has at least two constants: Pink Rangers are always female and the Black Rangers are always male. While the Super Sentai series have featured male Rangers in pink garb in the past, the Power Rangers franchise in the U.S. has yet to do that. But on both sides of the Pacific, every full-time Black Ranger has been a guy, though that doesn’t mean a female character hasn’t been able to wield the abilities of that particular color at any point.
In the Power Rangers Megaforce and Super Megaforce seasons of the series, two of the team members were female. The Pink and Yellow Rangers were both able to use Black Ranger “keys” to draw on the abilities of the Black Rangers that came before them. Technically, the Pink Ranger is the first female Black Ranger as she utilizes the Black Ranger RPM key a few times over the course of the series. The Yellow Ranger would also eventually go on to use Black Ranger keys at various times as well.
Of the original six Power Rangers, three of them have returned to work for the franchise in character. Amy Jo Johnson reprised her role in the Power Rangers: Turbo movie after leaving during the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers run. So did Austin St. John, who left before Johnson did, though he also returned to take on the role of the Gold Ranger for a little while. Jason David Frank, probably the most well-known Ranger of them all, returned for multiple versions of the show, even serving as a mentor to a new generation of Power Rangers at one point.
Neither David Yost nor Thuy Trang ever returned to the series after leaving, though the latter, who played the original Yellow Ranger, died in a car accident in 2001 and never had the chance to return. The only actor who hasn’t been a part of the series beyond the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers run who did have the chance, though? That would be Walter Jones. Jones has never made a comeback to the franchise in character, but that doesn't mean he's forgotten his roots. Jones teamed up with Austin St. John to host a Power Rangers special that included an airing of the “lost episode,” the pilot that was shot to sell the show. Jones and St. John filmed segments that featured behind the scenes information for longtime fans.
With the series ongoing, and the movies having five sequels planned, there’s always a chance that Jones's Zack Taylor could pop in for an appearance or two at some point.
In 2007, likely as a ploy to capitalize on the nostalgia associated with past Power Rangers series, Disney Interactive released Power Rangers: Super Legends to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the franchise. The video game was created for PC, Playstation 2, and Nintendo DS, with different characters playable in each version. In it, the Future Omega Ranger enlists the help of various other Power Rangers to go up against Lord Zedd, who has found the Time Crystal as the human archaeologist he became after Zordon saved the galaxy. Unable to resist the temptation of power, Lord Zedd is evil again.
The game featured various Power Rangers from Mighty Morphin, Zeo, Wild Force, Ninja Storm, SPD, Lost Galaxy, Operation Overdrive, and Time Force seasons, depending on which console was being used to play the game. In the case of the original Power Rangers, players could go through the game as the Red, Pink, Yellow, or Blue Rangers on the PC and Playstation 2, or the Red or Pink Rangers for the Nintendo DS. The Green Ranger also appeared as a helper character. The only Ranger from the Mighty Morphin era to not be a part of the game play in any way was the Black Ranger, an oversight that went entirely unexplained by Disney Interactive.
With so many Power Rangers having a love for martial arts before they even get their superpowers, it’s probably not a big surprise that at least a few of them go on to teach martial arts to a new generation. Most audience members would probably expect Tommy to be among them, given his constant presence at tournaments in the early days of the show. But Mr. Oliver goes on to become a science teacher with a doctorate in paleontology and a mentor to the Dino Thunder Rangers instead. It’s the first two Black Rangers of the Mighty Morphin era that look to pass their knowledge on to the next generation.
On the show, Adam is revealed to be teaching martial arts when he returns for a team-up episode. In the past, the show had already demonstrated his gift for teaching by having him coach underclassmen on the soccer team. Meanwhile, in the comics, Zack brings his hip hop kido to a new generation of kids. While the show featured him giving lessons at the Angel Grove youth center, the comics have him teaching the classes in a whole new country. When Kimberly tracks him and Trini down in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink series, Zack is teaching a class, with the former Yellow Ranger serving as his assistant.
The miniseries is meant to fill in the gaps for what Kimberly is up to between her leaving in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series and the the new team gaining Zeo Ranger status, but it also gives plenty of updates on Zack as well. In addition to training kids, he’s also dating Trini.
When Tommy Oliver emerged on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as the Green Ranger, he began a tradition of that one extra Ranger making a “surprise” appearance at some point in other seasons. Those additional Rangers weren’t typically Green, though. They were often White, Gold, Silver, and many even had a different name or title than the core team. Instead, the Green Rangers of later seasons were actually the counterparts to Black Rangers from the earlier seasons, becoming the second in command in many cases. In fact, there are quite a few Black Rangers who were also Green Rangers.
Adam Park, who was the second Black Ranger on the Mighty Morphin team, became the Green Ranger for both the Zeo and Turbo teams. His Turbo successor, Carlos Vallerte (Roger Velasco) would also pull double duty, as he became the Black Ranger during the In Space season. Megaforce Black Ranger Jake would go on to become the Green Ranger in Super Megaforce. Of course, there’s also the original Green Ranger, Tommy Oliver, who would later become the Black Ranger in the Dino Thunder season.
In every season of Power Rangers, there are four different levels of monsters the Rangers fight. There’s the big bad: the person or humanoid monster who sends the threats to the Rangers. There’s the sidekick: the monster who acts as the right hand to the big bad and appears throughout the season. There are the monsters-of-the-episode: the ones who don’t usually make repeat appearances. Last, at the lowest level, are the minions: the foot soldiers who are created en masse to battle the Power Rangers all the time. They’re basically disposable. In every season, these foot soldiers get a new version to go with the new iteration of the Rangers. One Ranger has actually battled 11 different varieties of these all-too-easily-defeated goons.
Over the course of the franchise, Tommy Oliver has taken on Rita’s Putties, Zed’s modified Putties, the Tenga Warriors, the Machine Empire’s Cogs, Divatox’s Piranhatrons, Divatox’s Putra Pods, Lothor’s Kelzaks, Mesogog’s Tyrannodrones, Zeltrax’s Triptoids, the Troobian Empire’s Krybots, and the Armada’s XBorgs. By the time Tommy Oliver is a Black Ranger for Dino Thunder, he’s pretty much a legend. In fairness, he also happens to be the only Ranger who actually created some of the minions he and his team were forced to war against.
The Tyrannodrones that plague the Dino Thunder Rangers were created by Tommy and a coworker by combining dinosaur DNA with advanced technology. When that coworker went on to become Mesogog, he reprogrammed their creation to act as his own minions.
Not all of the Power Rangers series use animals for the team inspiration and abilities. When they do, though, there’s usually a pattern to the kind of animals they use. Pink Rangers often are assigned the graceful animals, while Red Rangers get large and imposing animals, Yellow Rangers get animals with immense strength, and Blue Rangers get animals that are smart and move in packs. The Black Rangers' animal patterns are a bit less well-defined, though there is one common thread: no one ever has a snake as their Ranger symbol.
We imagine this has to do with the animal commonly being associated with treachery and deceit in mythology and literature. Power Rangers likes to put a good spin on its animals. The trend was broken with Power Rangers Megaforce, where the Black Ranger became the first one to be tied to a snake. Jake Holling identified the creature as his own animal spirit, and even yells “venom of the snake” during the use of his abilities, calling on the snake zord.
Megaforce premiered in 2013, the 20th anniversary of the franchise, and it's best known for utilizing “ranger keys” to help the current Rangers call on past powers. So much of the series acted as a callback to previous teams that the use of the snake was one way to differentiate it from the past.
In every season of Power Rangers, the audience is introduced to the core team of Rangers in the first two episodes. Several episodes later, they often get a little help from a new friend. These sixth Rangers usually stand out from a crowd as Green, White, or Gold Rangers, but on rare occasions, they actually stand in for the Black Ranger.
Power Rangers Turbo didn’t have a Black Ranger on their core team, having rolled with green instead. During their tenure, they got some assistance in their fights courtesy of someone known only as the Phantom Ranger. He wore a black suit, but he had some high tech abilities (like being able to make himself invisible) that came in handy. His identity under the mask was never revealed, though, unlike Anubis Cruger or the Magna Defender.
Anubis Cruger, an alien being who resembled a canine, acted as the Shadow Ranger during the SPD season of Power Rangers. Interestingly, though his uniform was mostly black, it also had traces of blue in it. The Magna Defender was also from an alien world, and he traveled to the space colony Terra Venture during the Lost Galaxy season. Though he began the show on a quest for vengeance, when he sacrificed himself, he passed his abilities onto the former Red Ranger Mike, making him the sixth Ranger for his friends in another season where a Green Ranger was on the core team instead of a Black Ranger.
Saban has brought its franchise full circle by bringing it to the big screen with the very first iteration of the Power Rangers characters taking up the mantle once again. Of course, the story has been updated for a new generation, with a new look and fleshed out characters. Now, it’s Ludi Lin who takes on the role of Zack Taylor that Walter Jones made famous.
Like Jones, Lin has experience with martial arts. He’s actually competed professionally and was interested in bringing a variety of techniques to the role of Zack. So, like Jones, Lin was able to provide input for his fight scenes to help create Zack’s style and influence the choreography. Also like Jones, Power Rangers is Lin’s big break. Despite some work in short films and the Chinese film Monster Hunt, 2017's Power Rangers is serving as the actor's first introduction to a wider audience. He’s most definitely a worthy successor to the Black Ranger title.
Did you learn anything new about the Black Ranger? Did we miss out on some interesting facts that you happen to have hidden up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments!
You can catch all the Power Rangers action in theaters now.