Who Are the Power Rangers? A Primer to the Color-Coded Teen Superheroes

2:37 PM 3/23/2017

by Kara Haar

The latest big-screen adaptation of the action-adventure TV series hits theaters Friday.

The colorful group of five known as the Power Rangers were originally introduced to U.S. audiences in 1993 with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television show.

The concept focused on a group of high school students who were infused with unique superpowers and teamed up to save the world. Two critically drubbed movies were released subsequent to the TV series: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie in 1995 and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie in 1997. Now, for the first time in 20 years, Lionsgate is bringing the '90s TV show back to the big screen with Saban’s Power Rangers, which hits theaters Friday.

With the new cast making its debut, it's time to look back at the original stars as well as the next generation.

  • Red Ranger

    AKA Jason Lee Scott

    Austin St. John, left, and Dacre Montgomery
    Austin St. John, left, and Dacre Montgomery
    Courtesy of Saban Films/Lionsgate

    In the upcoming film, Dacre Montgomery plays the role of the Red Ranger, who has been portrayed as a stereotypical jock who leads the pack as the cool guy in high school. He enjoys sports, particularly martial arts. The character is a kind-hearted and confident member of the Power Rangers. Austin St. John played the role in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

    St. John, who has practiced martial arts since age 5, holds a second-degree black belt in TaeKwon-Do and a first-degree black belt in Judo, skills that helped land him the role. After Power Rangers, St. John took a 20-year break from acting — working overseas as a medic — and returns to the screen with 2017's Survival's End. He also continues to make appearances at conventions.

     

  • Pink Ranger

    AKA Kimberly Ann Hart

    Amy Jo Johnson, left, and Naomi Scott
    Amy Jo Johnson, left, and Naomi Scott
    Twentieth Century-Fox/Photofest/Lionsgate

    Naomi Scott plays the Pink Ranger in the upcoming film. Her character is a gymnast who has a Valley Girl attitude. She is witty and sarcastic.

    Amy Jo Johnson played the pink ranger in the original series. Johnson is the most famous star to have stepped foot into the Power Rangers suit, having gone on to co-star in Felicity opposite Keri Russell as well as land roles in The Division, Flashpoint and Covert Affairs. She recently posed a reporter at a film junket to prank the new cast.

  • Blue Ranger

    AKA William "Billy" Cranston

    David Yost, left, and RJ Cyler
    David Yost, left, and RJ Cyler
    Courtesy of Saban Films/Lionsgate

    The Blue Ranger is played by RJ Cyler in the upcoming film. His character is known as the nerdy kid in high school who is a member of the science club and he enjoys conducting experiments. In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, David Yost played the role of the blue ranger.

    In a 2010 interview with No Pink Spandex, Yost said he left the show over allegedly being "called 'faggot' one too many times. I had heard that several times while working on the show, from creators, producers, writers, directors." Producer Scott Page-Pagter denied those allegations, saying Yost left over a pay dispute: "I don't know why he's saying this, but he was the only one no one got along with ... he was a pain in the ass."

    Years after leaving the blue ranger costume behind, Yost briefly served as a segment producer on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

  • Yellow Ranger

    AKA Trini Kwan

    Thuy Trang, left, and Becky G
    Thuy Trang, left, and Becky G
    Courtesy of Saban Films/Lionsgate

    In the upcoming film, Becky G. plays the Yellow Ranger, who was portrayed by Vietnamese actress Thuy Trang in the original series. At the time, there was controversy that arose over the fact that her costume was yellow, with some critics calling the color choice racially insensitive. In fact, the Yellow Ranger was originally supposed to be portrayed by a Hispanic-American actress, Audri Dubois, who was replaced by Trang before the pilot aired (the pilot was reshot with Trang, who died in a car crash in 2001 at age 27).

    In the new movie, Trini becomes the first queer superhero on the big screen, which is revealed during a scene with one character assuming she's having "boyfriend problems" and soon realizing that perhaps she's actually having "girlfriend problems." Director Dean Israelite told The Hollywood Reporter that the scene is "pivotal" for the entire film. "For Trini, really she's questioning a lot about who she is," Israelite said. "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."

     

  • Black Ranger

    AKA Zack Taylor

    Walter Jones, left, and Ludi Lin
    Walter Jones, left, and Ludi Lin
    Courtesy of Saban Films/Lionsgate

    Ludi Lin plays the Black Ranger in the new movie. His character is athletic and energetic, but he's also something of a bad boy. In the new film, the Black Ranger is played by an actor of Asian descent, but in the original TV show, this character was played by Walter Jones, an African-American. For similar reasons to the Yellow Ranger, there were accusations of racial insensitivity after the original series debuted.

    In a 2014 interview, Jones said the color choices were coincidental. "Nobody really talked about me playing the Black Ranger at first," he said. "But after Trang was hired everyone was like 'Wait a minute! The Yellow Ranger is Asian and you’re the black ranger and you’re a black guy.' They were going to replace Audri Dubois with another girl either way, but she just happened to be Asian." Jones continues to act, with recent roles in 2016's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and 2013's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.

  • Zordon

    David J. Fielding, left, and Bryan Cranston
    David J. Fielding, left, and Bryan Cranston
    Courtesy of Saban Films/Lionsgate

    Zordon, the Power Rangers' mentor, is played by Bryan Cranston, who actually voiced the roles of Twin Man and Snizard in the original TV series. He has said he was surprised when ask to return for Saban’s Power Rangers.

    "I get a call saying, ‘We’d like you to be in the new Power Rangers movie.’ I was like, ‘Wow!'" he told Hollywood.com.

    Of the film, he added: “It has a lot of the folklore from the original series, little Easter eggs (inside jokes) that fans of the series will be able to recognize, but it is, in and of itself, its own entity, a re-imagined version of that story.”

    Zordon, who assembles the Power Rangers, is the original ancient Red Ranger and fought for good over evil. Rita Repulsa, his arch-enemy, vaporized him and turned him into his current disembodied-face form. David J. Fielding played the original Zordon in the TV series.

  • Alpha 5

    Richard Horvitz, left, an Bill Hader
    Richard Horvitz, left, an Bill Hader
    Jennifer Lourie/FilmMagic; C Flanigan/Getty Images

    Bill Hader is the voice of Alpha 5, the robot assistant of Zordon. Even though he is a robot, Alpha 5 is a friend and mentor with humanlike emotions. He has a circular head with skinny arms and bulged lights for eyes. Alpha 5 was voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz in the previous Power Rangers installments. Horvitz is a voice actor who has had roles in many cartoons, movies and video games.

  • Rita Repulsa

    Barbara Goodson, left, and Elizabeth Banks
    Barbara Goodson, left, and Elizabeth Banks
    Courtesy of Saban Films/Lionsgate

    Elizabeth Banks plays the role of Rita Repulsa, an alien invader and enemy of the Power Rangers.

    Repulsa is a former Green Ranger, dating back 65 million years ago, before she turned evil. Banks said the transformation to play her character was a process of makeup, fake teeth and face prosthetics.

    "Rita had prosthetics!" Banks told Entertainment Tonight. "I spent a lot of time in the chair basically naked. Every time I went to set, it was like a big reveal."

    In the TV series, Machiko Soga portrayed the villain physically, while Barbara Goodson voiced Rita. Goodson is known for voice acting in many animated films and TV shows.

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