In what appears to be a new recurring theme with nostalgic movies and remakes as of late—most recently when Disney teased LeFou’s “exclusively gay moment" while promoting Beauty and the Beast—it’s been announced that for the first time ever one of the Power Rangers in Lionsgate’s upcoming reboot of the 1990s series, in theaters this weekend, will be gay.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news yesterday, Power Rangers will be the first big-budget superhero movie to feature an LGBT protagonist. In an interview, the film’s director Dean Israelite announced that there’s a scene in which Trini, the Yellow Ranger, struggles with coming to terms with her sexuality.
Here’s the plot reveal as so far reported, without Playboy having seen the film: Trini speaks with another character about her relationship foibles. Others ignorantly assuming she’s in a relationship with a man, but it’s actually with a woman, which is realized later. It’s a small moment, but one director Dean Israelite calls “pivotal” for the entire film.
This sounds mighty familiar. It’s almost exactly what director Bill Condon said about LeFou: a tiny moment you could almost miss if you skip out for a bathroom break. Ultimately, it’s no more than a tweak to the story’s original narrative and otherwise adds nothing to the film’s plot, nor the character’s development, throughout the story.
As Israelite continues, “For Trini, really she’s questioning a lot about who she is. She hasn’t fully figured it out yet. I think what’s great about that scene and what that scene propels for the rest of the movie is, ‘That’s OK.’ The movie is saying, 'That’s OK,’ and all of the kids have to own who they are and find their tribe.”
Obviously, such representation is important, but as of late, it now seems gay characters are being used as a marketing tool. Only time will tell how Trini’s sexuality progresses in the film and franchise, but at the moment, we can’t help but feel it’s more opportunistic and sensationalized than inclusive and progressive. Regardless, with more than 20 seasons of the television series, most of which featured a different recruitment of crime-fighting teenagers, we can’t argue that it’s about time one of the teens broaches sexuality so head-on.
In the past, the Power Rangers haven’t been regarded as the most progressive series regarding representation, what with their color-coded racism and all. In the show’s first series, Mighty Morphin’, the Black Ranger was a black man and the Yellow Ranger was an asian woman. The Pink Ranger, of course, was the pretty girl whose uniform came with a skirt, in case you didn’t know she was the girly one.
With that said, like us, the Power Rangers have grown up. A first glance at the big-screen Rangers reveals that only two of the cast members are Wonder Bread-white and neither their races nor their outfits coordinate with their corresponding Ranger color. Not to mention, one is gay and another, Billy (the Black Ranger) registers on the autism spectrum. Online, the response to these character announcements have been overwhelmingly positive, with people frantically taking to Twitter to show their support.
ijs, yellow has always been my fav power ranger color. and now we get a beautiful, gay, AND latina ranger???? im gonna die?— jin 🌈 (@jinfallible) March 21, 2017
Me: i don’t really care about power rangers— Klaudia Amenábar #SWRepMatters (@kaludiasays) March 20, 2017
New power rangers movie: *yellow ranger is a gay latina and blue is black and autistic*
woah yellow power ranger is gay and latina, blue power ranger is black and autistic, this movie is becoming very appealing to me!— gf-Celly! @LBM MK254 (@CellyInMaBelly) March 21, 2017
TRINI AKA YELLOW POWER RANGER IS GAY RT AND SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK pic.twitter.com/SBLCTg9jiX— fan account saddy (@lesbihayley) March 21, 2017
This may not seem like a big deal in the more progressive cultural climate of today, but back when Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers debuted in 1993, this kind of inclusiveness was unheard of. For instance, four years after the series debuted, Ellen Degeneres would come out and break the Hollywood mold to mixed reactions, with some writing her off entirely until the debut of her talk show, which today rules daytime television. Now, 20 years after Degeneres’s coming out, a Power Ranger is gay, and though this kind of news shouldn’t make headlines, it still does—which is proof we have a lot of work to do.
Catch the Power Rangers on the big screen on Match 24.