Last night, I saw Power Rangers, the modern reboot of the Power Rangers franchise specifically using Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as a source.
First off, it’s great. It has flaws to be sure, but it’s a damn good superhero film that rejuvenates the franchise for a brand new audience. And it’s in fact a lot better than some other superhero movies.
Secondly, something that hit me about the film which was also completely incredible and amazing was the sheer diversity and inclusiveness in the film, that it manages to achieve effortlessly, and that far outstrips the vast majority of other superhero movies from much bigger companies and productions.
It had already broken before the films release that one of the Rangers was now queer. What is wonderful is it does it in a very natural way, as the character is still coming to terms with their sexuality and identity as a person, so they never specify or limit her queer identity as a result.
Moreover, whilst the original show certainly made efforts towards diversity, perhaps more than some other shows at the time, this movie raises the bar on it and makes it less…on the nose. The black character is not the Black Power Ranger for example; and the film includes black, Asian and Latinx characters. In a group of five characters, that means two white characters to three people of colour. The characters also come from varying financial backgrounds and home lives, something we never really saw much in the original show.
It also passes the Bechdel Test, as the two female characters. Kim and Trini, form a friendship through the film, never talk about men or their relationships with men.
And perhaps the big one, the film includes a character who is on the Autism spectrum. It handles this character sensitively and very well, and in fact makes him a crucial character for the film.
Finally, the teens themselves have real issues with depth, instead of the usual shallow teen issues of will that boy like me, or some such. No these characters struggle with a father-son relationship suffering a communication breakdown; an identity issue and inability to fit into the image their neurotic, overbearing mother wants of the family; a child caring for a sick parent, to name just a few.
What’s awesome, is Power Rangers includes all of this in one film, which also juggles the origins of the Power Rangers, setting up their world and threat and all the other necessities for a movie. The first in it’s series.
It’s at this point that I’d like to point out that certain other superhero movie making studios haven’t reached anywhere near that level of inclusiveness, even after ten years. In fact, one such company has yet to have it’s first female led film.
One film. Multi-level diversity handled with care and respect. And it works for the film too. Just sayin’. Because diversity and representation matters and it’s about time those other studios upped their game.