“The Movie Is Saying, 'That's OK.'"
When Lionsgate’s Power Rangers opens in theaters this weekend, it will reportedly offer moviegoers more than nostalgia for the 23-year-old franchise. In a first for a mainstream film of its genre, the reboot will also offer an LGBT protagonist.
The franchise, which has generated 20 television spin-offs and two full-length films since Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered in 1993, will reboot its original source material, following five teenage superheroes as they combat both homework and henchmen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, however, the reboot will also see Yellow Ranger Trini (played by actress/singer Becky G.) struggle not just with superheroics, but also with sexuality.
Minor spoilers follow.
“For Trini, really she's questioning a lot about who she is," director Dean Israelite said of one scene in the film, described as a “pivotal moment.” In it, the other leads in the film realize that the character is coming to terms with her sexuality – struggling with “girlfriend problems” rather than “boyfriend problems,” as they’d assumed.
While the film may be morphing to new ground with its LGBT superhero, the Power Rangers franchise has an unfortunate history with LGBT ‘Rangers – at least off-screen. David Yost, the out actor who portrayed the original Blue Ranger, quit the hit television series in 1996 after struggling with homophobic harassment on the set for years.
“Basically I just felt like I was continually being told I was not worthy of being where I [was] because I’m a gay person,” he revealed in his 2010 coming out interview. “[I wasn’t] supposed to be an actor… [I wasn’t] a superhero.”
In 2013, Yost revealed that since coming out he’d received support from friends, family and fans alike. Now an advocate for LGBT youth, he called for LGBT representation on a show like Power Rangers, as “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex young people need to see themselves reflected in [the] world around them.”
Though likely unrelated, it’s fitting that Lionsgate has answered his call for LGBT representation with its upcoming reboot. (“They really stepped up to the plate,” he told THR.)
“I think what's great about [Trini’s LGBT] scene and what that scene propels for the rest of the movie is, 'That's OK,’” director Dean Israelite said. “The movie is saying, 'That's OK,' and all of the kids have to own who they are and find their tribe.”
It’s unclear if conservative groups that boycotted last week’s Beauty and the Beast for LGBT inclusion (currently the #1 movie in the world) will bolster a campaign against Power Rangers. But if anyone can handle it, it’s a superhero.
Go, go Power Rangers.