Everything you need to know: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
So the new POWER RANGERS movie just dropped its second trailer a little while ago, and it finally showed off all the things we want to see – the suits, the Zords, Zordon, Alpha 5, The Putties – the whole nine yards.
But I’m sure some people who read that last sentence were like, “what the f*ck are Putties?” And that’s where I come in! I’m going to get you prepared for the new film by dropping some knowledge about where all this crazy shit began – the ‘90s children’s show MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS!
So, a little background. You see, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is based on a Japanese tokusatsu TV series called SUPER SENTAI (which literally translates to “Super Fighting Squadron”) that has been around since the late ‘70s.
While visiting Japan, producer Haim Saban saw the ’92-93 season of SUPER SENTAI called KYŌRYŪ SENTAI ZYURANGER, about warriors – with designated colored armor – who were humans evolved from dinosaurs that fight an evil witch with super-karate and giant dino-bots (this should all sound familiar, save the whole “humans evolved from dinosaurs” part). In the American version, the dino-bots were called "Zords".
After watching that show, Saban's eyes presumably turned into two "$$" signs as they bulged out of his skull. After his eyes turned back to normal, he then created a show where he edited in All-American actors into the Japanese SUPER SENTAI footage to create a whole new story, a proud tradition since the original GODZILLA when American distributors forced a go-nowhere subplot of Raymond Burr as a reporter in it.
Most surprisingly, both SUPER SENTAI and POWER RANGERS are still going strong to this day! Both keep the same concept of “brightly colored karate teens fight monsters with giant robots”, but with different gimmicks each season (from the aforementioned dinosaurs, to ninjas, to cars (?), to…uh, space? It gets convoluted fast), with the American POWER RANGERS using footage from the corresponding Japanese SUPER SENTAI season (for the most part).
Make sense? Good. Now who exactly are the Power Rangers?
TEENAGERS WITH ATTITUDE:
Jason Lee Scott:
Played by: Austin St. John, a trained martial artist and currently working paramedic
Zord: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Bio: Jason is the leader of the team, and the designated “jock”. But, like, the nice kind of jock. Instead of football or lacrosse or something lame like that, he was actually part of the school’s martial arts team, which is a sport my school certainly did not offer. Though, who am I kidding? I was in the D&D club in high school, I would have never been in anything so physically demanding. Jason eventually gave up his leadership duties to Tommy, the Green (then White) Ranger without much conflict – and in a world where witches and giant monsters exist – that’s probably the most unbelievable thing about it.
Played by: Amy Jo Johnson, who had one of the more successful post-POWER RANGERS acting career with starring roles in THE DIVISION and FLASHPOINT, and is currently producing and directing her third feature film, THE SPACE BETWEEN
Bio: The prissy “cheerleader” of the group, who wants to do nothing but go to the mall and shop because she was a teen girl written by thirty-year-old dudes. She was a gymnast, which apparently helped her in the fights (maybe she watched a lot of GYMKATA?). But she wasn’t useless though, and in fact in the episode POWER RANGER PUNKS - when all the other Rangers were eaten by that episode’s monster The Terror Toad - it was up to Kimberly to single-handedly save them.
Played by: David Yost, who left the show (according to him) due to harassment by cast and crew over his homosexuality, or (according to producers) pay disputes over royalties. He eventually went on to produce some TV shows, like ALIEN HUNTER and TEMPTATION ISLAND.
Bio: Billy is the “nerd” of the group. He’s constantly spewing out techno babble and referencing STAR TREK (because, remember, he’s a nerd, you see). And, fun fact, his last name is indeed a reference to actor Bryan Cranston, who used to voice a few monsters on the original series, and who is also going to play Zordon in the upcoming film.
Played by: Walter Jones, who has had a pretty varied and successful career, including a role in the recent POPSTAR: NEVER STOP STOPPING film
Bio: Zack is essentially the “token black guy” of the group. His fighting style involves “dance moves” and when he’s introduced fighting, a CASIO hip-hop beat plays in the background. It’s…a bit uncomfortable in hindsight. Beyond that bit of unpleasantness, he is at least a capable fighter and is a cool fun-loving guy. But the stereotypes are strong with this one.
Played by: Thuy Trang, who died tragically young in a car crash at the age of 27
Zord: Sabretooth Tiger
Bio: Trini was studious and smart; in fact, she would often translate Billy’s nerdy technobabble for the rest of the group (she was basically the one who gave the easy-to-understand analogy). However, in the original SUPER SENTAI show the Yellow Ranger was actually a dude, so in some shots you can definitely make out the Yellow Ranger’s junk while you hear the character over-dubbed by Trang’s voice.
Played by: Jason David Frank, who had a semi-successful professional MMA career post-POWER RANGERS
Bio: Tommy Oliver was the Ranger everyone wanted to be – he was basically the Wolverine of POWER RANGERS. He came into the series as a classmate who is taken under Rita’s spell and becomes the powerful Green Ranger, who actually succeeds in f*cking the other Rangers’ shit up. They eventually defeat Tommy and release him from Rita’s spell. Afterwards he becomes part of the team, then as the White Ranger, became its leader (which, again, Jason was somehow totally cool with).
Rita was an evil witch that was defeated and put in a space dumpster 10,000 years ago, until she was rediscovered and accidentally released by astronauts. She then creates a castle on the moon and makes it her base of operations. There she spies on the Rangers in their hometown of Angel Grove, and uses magic clay to create monsters that’ll attack them.
You keeping notes?
Anyway, when the Power Rangers inevitably defeat said monsters, Rita uses her wand to make the monsters grow to, like, 100 feet or something. Afterward, the Rangers use their giant dinosaur robots (or Zords) to kill the crap out of the now-giant monsters, doing MAN OF STEEL-style damage every episode. Rinse-and-repeat. Hell, her repetitious plots make SCOOBY-DOO look like GAME OF F*CKING THRONES.
Goldar is Rita’s metal-as-f*ck looking right hand man…who honestly, kind of sucks. He’s cowardly and is much more bark than bite. However, he does have the distinction of being one of the few monsters Rita turned giant to fight the Zords, and who lived to see another day. I guess that’s impressive…if running away is considered impressive (because if it is, I am the most impressive fighter ever). Still, his awesome armor and demonic wolf face look like they belong on a Megadeth cover, so that definitely counts for something.
Dumb, bullshit golem-like creatures who make stupid noises that sound like a barrage of El Chombo’s “Macarron Chacarron”, ad nauseam. They're also pretty useless as the Power Rangers always make quick work of them. Maybe next time don’t make your kill squad out of f*cking clay, Rita.
OTHER NOTABLE CHARACTERS:
The blue floating head guy in the giant tube who gives the Power Rangers their powers. He’s an inter-dimensional being who is trapped in a time warp after a battle with Rita thousands of years ago (the same battle that put her in the space dumpster). Uncomfortably, when needing to recruit the Power Rangers to stop Rita, he utters the phrase, “I need teenagers with attitude”, which means he’s explicitly drafting a child army. So, maybe not such a cool dude after all. I guess he did stop Rita for awhile, but still. Not cool Zordon.
A whiny little robot that is Zordon's helper, and who also doesn’t really seem to have any useful skills other than pressing buttons, giving exposition, and getting scared. He’s like a wimpier C-3PO without Threepio's charm or an R2-D2 to balance him out. Best known for his catchprahse "Aye-aye-aye-yaiii!!!"
Bulk and Skull:
Two douchebags who have the worst theme song of any show, ever. Seem like guys who would listen to ICP if the show had come out just a few years later. They were the ostensible "bullies" of the show, but when you're main characters are fighting giant monsters on the reg, it's hard to give a shit about two losers who dress like...that...
There were two theatrical films that came out during the MIGHTY MORPHIN era. In 1995 there was MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, a non-canonical and overly-campy kid’s film starring Ivan Ooze, while in 1997 there was the sequel POWER RANGERS: TURBO, which is just…abysmal. Neither shared the entire cast, however, with Trini and Zack recast in the first film, and only Jason and Kimberly showing up for the second.
Also, while most of the footage for the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS seasons were taken from the SUPER SENTAI show KYŌRYŪ SENTAI ZYURANGER, there were some instances of footage taken from GOSEI SENTAI DAIRANGER and NINJA SENTAI KAKURANGER (mostly new Zords and footage of the White Ranger, who actually never interacts with the main cast).
Furthermore some MIGHTY MOPRHIN POWER RANGERS actors - like Jason David Frank, David Yost, and Austin St. John - actually crossed-over into different POWER RANGERS seasons (like TURBO and ZEO), so even if the Rangers' gimmicks changed, there is a long-ongoing arc within the disparate POWER RANGERS shows.
The current POWER RANGERS show is POWER RANGER NINJA STEEL, which is airing sometime later this year:
However, the new 2017 Lionsgate film is going to be a completely new, rebooted continuity with a new cast playing the classic MIGHTY MORPHIN characters of Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, and Zack.
So, there you have it, a primer on the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS, which is the basis for the new POWER RANGERS film. Now, this show has gone on for 24 (!) consecutive years, and there are no signs of it stopping. So this is just the tip of the iceberg for the show's convoluted – and frankly – nonsensical mythology. But it should be enough get a basic handle of the premise and characters in preparation for the film.
Now IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME!
...sorry, couldn’t resist.
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|Extra Tidbit:||I used to play as the Black Ranger, because I liked the color and everyone else wanted to play as Tommy.|