Five teenagers with attitude are suiting up on March 24th for the new Power Rangers movie, and they'll be joined by the first major villain the Rangers ever faced off against in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television show: Rita Repulsa! This queen of evil wanted to conquer the universe and was trapped inside of a space dumpster for ten thousand years before she found freedom. She's back to her wicked ways, and the trailers for the new film suggest she's more deadly than her original television counterpart.
There are a lot of things fans don't know about this wicked witch. You may be familiar with her ear drum-splitting voice and her hatred of the Power Rangers, but did you know she becomes a hero? Or that she married Lord Zedd? Or that she may have been the Green Power Ranger? Find out all this and more when you read Power Rangers: 15 Things You Didn't Know About Rita Repulsa.
The woman who portrayed Rita Repulsa on screen and the woman who voiced her were not the same person. The person behind the screechy voice of Rita Repulsa is Barbara Goodson, one of Saban Entertainment's voice actors. Her voice roles include Chiyo of Naruto Shippuden, Mother Talzin / Nightsister in Star Wars: Clone Wars (2011-2014), and Kunba in Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann. She also voiced Mandilok in Power Rangers Wild Force.
During her audition for Rita, Goodson was asked to do a Wicked Witch of the West style voice. However, the studio decided she just wasn't scary enough and fired her. But Goodson didn't give up. In an interview with Complex, she mentioned how she "asked them if I could try something else, but they said they would open it up to other people.... And at the point, I had already done the pilot. So I said, ‘Come on guys, let me audition at least.’ I was pissed off. … I came up with that [hoarse Rita] voice out of being annoyed, and it lasted for five years." So despite almost being fired, Goodson won her job back by being just annoyed enough to give us the villainous, ear-splitting voice.
There were several actresses who donned the costume of Rita Repulsa. The footage used for Rita Repulsa in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers came from the Japanese series Zyuranger. So Rita's character was actually originally called the Witch Bandora, who was played by Machiko Soga, and dubbed into English by Barbara Goodson.
Carla Perez put on the Rita Repulsa costume halfway through the second season of the show and physically portrayed her until Power Rangers in Space. The character was still voiced by Goodson up until that point as well. Julia Cortez took over the role for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995). When Rita was reintroduced in Power Rangers Mystic Force, Soga resumed her physical portrayal of the character with Susan Brady lending her voice to the role.
In the upcoming Power Rangers movie, Elizabeth Banks will be Rita Repulsa, both visually and vocally. Her portrayal of the character is the most different from every other interpretation thus far.
Rita has been fighting Zordon for thousands of years while trying to conquer the universe. In the course of her battles against Zordon, she killed many of his warriors, including his first team of Rangers. Several times during the first season, Rita's defeat of his previous team is brought up. Original Sentai footage of the Rangers from the original Japanese television series was even used in flashbacks to show Rita defeating the Rangers.
The only reason Rita didn't continue to destroy Zordon's allies was because of a meeting she had with Zordon that would determine the fate of the universe. She bizarrely agreed to a coin toss with Zordon. With the power coins, Zordon won the challenge (what a cheater) and sealed Rita and her creatures into the dumpster she was trapped in for thousands of years.
However, Rita did manage to trap Zordon in a time warp. He could only be on Earth by using an energy tube that projected him as a giant floating head. So not only is Rita responsible for the countless deaths of Zordon's friends, but she's also the reason we know Zordon as a giant floating head. Which means she might be the reason Bryan Cranston looks like pin art in the upcoming Power Rangers movie.
Rita certainly comes from a family of like minds. She is actually the first villain shown to have familial ties to other villains in the show.
Her brother is Rito Revolto, a dim-witted foot soldier (unlike his Sentai counterpart, who was much more menacing) who works for Rita. He took the place of the villainess Scorpina after she was defeated (and because the actress could not return to the show), became partners with Goldar. Despite his low IQ, Rito did manage to destroy the Thunderzords and the ranger's powers. And no, he and Rita having different last names is never explained. We guess Rito Repulsa just didn't have the same ring to it.
Rita's father is Master Vile, a much more dangerous and capable villain than both his children. Master Vile is the first villain who is also a parent on the show. He actually conquered and ruled the M51 Galaxy for thousands of years. He was able to capture the Zeo Crystals and the Rangers' zord, celebrating his victory with an "End of the World Party." Of course, Master Vile did fail to defeat the Rangers, but he didn't let that keep him down.
Rita worked alongside Lord Zedd for awhile and the two had a rather... complicated relationship, which usually involved a lot of shouting and name-calling. However, in one of the best episodes, a three-parter called "The Wedding," Rita hatches an evil scheme that changes her relationship with Zedd forever. She makes Lord Zedd fall in love with her by giving him a love potion, her plan being that he'll marry her and she can get the Moon Palace.
The two are married, but quickly go from a loving relationship to a bickering old married couple as they watch the Power Rangers defeat their monsters. However, despite being tricked into the marriage, Zedd remains married to Rita and the two become one of the funniest married couples on TV - to the chagrin of some fans and the amusement of others. Surprisingly the two do seem to learn to love each other, despite their constant bickering.
Amidst all their bickering, Rita and Lord Zedd found time to get busy and have a child. Going by the name of Thrax, he only appears in the two-part episode of "Once a Ranger" during Power Rangers Operation Overdrive. Thrax is disgusted by his parents' goodness and strives to be the vilest creature he can be.
He shares quite a few physical similarities to his father and even has his own Z-Staff. His similarities to his mother include his partially human face and the orange ornament he wears around his horns, which are reminiscent of Rita's dress. Also, just like his mother, Thrax was imprisoned in a space dumpster. His jaw looks like his uncle Rito Rivolto's.
There are a few fan theories as to when Thrax was conceived and born. The most prevalent theory is that he was made during Power Rangers Zeo and born during the events of Power Rangers Turbo. It is speculated his age accelerated because of his parents' alien and magical background. Others believe he may actually be thousands of years old, and traveled from the future into the past when he made his appearance in "Once a Ranger."
During to two part episode "Countdown to Destruction" in Power Rangers in Space, several villains are purified by a wave of good energy Zordon created by sacrificing himself. Both Rita and Zedd try to escape the energy but fail and the two of them become human. After turning into humans, Rita is actually happy that she and Zedd were purified together and they begin dancing.
The only information we get about what happened to Lord Zedd after he gets purified by the good energy wave is in the video game Power Rangers: Super Legends. Lord Zedd actually reverts to his evil form, but the game establishes he became an archaeologist after being purified. While working as an archaeologist, he found the Time Crystal and the Lord Zedd of the past convinced him to become evil again. He is the game's main antagonist, with the goal of altering the timeline permanently. But gamers never get to see Rita, she is only mentioned. So what became of the former queen of evil? Well...
Rita does not appear again after her purification until Power Rangers Mystic Force, in the two-part finale "Mystic Fate." Apparently in her down time she's decided to become a hero. Calling herself the Mystic Mother, Rita dons a new, totally white outfit. She is the Empress of Good Magic and leads the Mystic Ones. She even gives the Mystic Force Rangers the link to the morphing grid, which allows them to defeat evil.
She was almost killed by the villainous Octomus, but survived his attack by turning into energy before his final blow hit her. Rita even gave supporting character Clare the ability of a true sorceress and gave the Rangers some encouraging words before their final battle against Octomus. Then she returns to give the Rangers a pat on the back for their victory and reminds them that they may need to be called upon again to save the world.
As the Mystic Mother, Rita is clearly capable of some impressive magic. She may be even more powerful than when she was evil. Hopefully, for the Rangers' sake, she doesn't return to her wicked ways.
Witch Bandora is the original villain who was the source of Rita Repulsa's footage. She is from the Japanese show Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. Her story differs in several ways from her counterpart.
Unlike Rita, Bandora has a tragic backstory that led her down the path of evil. About 170 million years ago, she lost her son Kai when he was killed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex for smashing its eggs. Bandora, in tremendous grief, sold her soul to Dai-Satan to get magical powers. She lost her memories of Kai and decided to start a war with all the other tribes. She drove the dinosaurs to near extinction, which forced the Guardian Beasts to seal her on the planet Nemesis.
Like Rita, she is freed and becomes the main antagonist of the Zyurangers (the Power Rangers in our American version). After numerous battles with the Zyurangers, the finale of the show leads to Kai (because he didn't stay dead the first time) dying a second time. Bandora cries for him, which causes her to lose her powers. This leads to her being sealed away again.
In the current, and longest running, comic book series of the Power Rangers (published by Boom! Studios), a lot is going down. In this canonical comic book, the Billy and Tommy from the Power Rangers universe we're familiar with travel to an alternate universe that is not all sunshine and flowers in Power Rangers #12. They find out in #13 that, on this Earth, Tommy actually joined up with Rita Repulsa and the two of them took over the world.
Apparently, just like in the universe we're familiar with, Tommy was brainwashed by Rita and fought against the Rangers. What's different is that, when Tommy is free from her mind control, he chooses not to join the Rangers but continues to serve Rita. The Rangers try to fight back, but Tommy goes from being the Green Ranger to becoming Drakkon, which includes a pretty awesome villainous costume that combines the Green and White Rangers.
Machiko Soga, the Japanese actress who starred in the Sentai footage the American show took for Rita Repulsa, last appeared in the Playstation 2 game The Space Sheriff Spirits (2006) before dying of pancreatic cancer when she was 68 years old. Later, footage of her was used in the Power Rangers Mystic Force episodes as the Mystic Mother to honor her place in Power Rangers... though her appearance went uncredited.
The longtime voice actress of Rita Repulsa, Barbara Goodson, voiced numerous characters afterward. Some of her roles (not previously mentioned) included various voices in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Digimon, as well as the role of Laharl in Disgaea.
Julia Cortez, who played Rita in the movie, never did any acting again. The only other acting credit she had was a minor role in the comedy music movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). She now works in creative management and finance.
As for Carla Perez, who portrayed Rita in a few seasons, she has several things in the works right now. She will be in the upcoming drama False Affairs (2017) and the two upcoming Nostradamus Mission sci-fi movies in 2018 and 2019. But before all that...
In 2015, a fan film was created about the Power Rangers franchise called Power/Rangers. This much darker take was directed and co-written by Joseph Kahn, written by James Van Der Beek and Dutch Southern and produced by Adi Shankar and Jil Hardin. The fan film takes place after the Machine Empire wins against the Rangers, causing the government to negotiate a truce with the enemy and disband the Rangers.
The fan film did have some copyright issues with Saban Entertainment, leading to it being removed, but a not safe for work version has been reposted to Vimeo (where it currently has 1.6 million views) and a safe for work version is now on Youtube (currently with over 20 million views). A lot of the original cast are fans of the short film.
The only cast member from the actual Power Rangers franchise who made an appearance in this film was Carla Perez as Rita Repulsa.
Several images of the new Rita Repulsa, played by Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie, The Hunger Games), had the Internet buzzing. Supposedly, Rita will be controlling the same Putty Patrol from the original show. Her goal in the movie will be to steal gold bullion from the Central Bank of Russia, which she plans on using to resurrect Goldar. In an interview with People, Elizabeth Banks commented: "It’s definitely a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita Repulsa," and "We wanted to give her a backstory that connects her to the new Rangers."
She sports a very different look from her original incarnation, though she does carry around a staff similar to the signature one from the TV show. Instead of an orange dress (complete with a cone shaped bra), this Rita Repulsa sports a green skin-tight outfit reminiscent of a Power Ranger costume. This new look and Banks comments about Rita being connected to the Rangers led to the following fan theory...
Fans enjoy creating fan theories about characters from beloved (and even not so beloved) television shows and movies. Despite not even being out yet, several fans have speculated that the new incarnation of Rita Repulsa appearing in the Power Rangers movie used to be the Green Ranger. This was originally brought to our attention thanks to the Reddit user The AtomBomb, who speculate her green costume looks like a battle-torn Green Power Ranger uniform.
Interviews further enforce this theory, with Banks stating that Rita has “a backstory that connects her to the new Rangers.” She also has a history with Zordon, previously having killed other Power Rangers. The suits are alien in nature and Rita is from another planet. Could she be from a previous Power Rangers team Zordon created? Then, could she have been craving for more power, resulting in her killing the rest of the team?
We'll have to wait and find out in Power Rangers (2017).
There was some outcry against having Elizabeth Banks, a white actress, play Rita Repulsa. Fans even started the hashtag #RitaRepulsaSoWhite. None of the actresses who played Rita Repulsa were white. She even made our list of the 12 Biggest Whitewashing Controversies Of 2016.
Rita was previously played by the Japanese actress Machiko Soga, the Hispanic actress Carla Perez, and the Filipina-Australian actress Julia Cortez (though her voice actresses were both white). This whitewashing was somewhat mitigated by the fact that the rest of the cast of Power Rangers was very diverse, with the Rangers being from a variety of different races/ethnicities. They include Mexican-American actress Becky G, African-American actor RJ Cyler, Chinese-Canadian actor Ludi Lin, and Indian-British actress Naomi Scott.
Carla Perez, one of the people who played Rita Repulsa, had this to say about the actress and fan reaction to her not being Asian on Broadly: "I was quite surprised when they announced it, but she's such a good actress. I don't think the fact that she's not Asian really matters. There's a new generation of kids who will watch it so it really doesn't matter. Rita's alien anyway."
Are you looking forward to seeing Rita Repulsa in the new Power Rangers movie? Let us know in the comments!