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After news broke that Power Rangers features the first big-screen LBGTQ superhero in a studio movie, Vincent J. Roth could be found on social media pointing out that years earlier, he brought the first out gay superhero to the movies with his indie film Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes.
The 2004 action-comedy was written by and starred Roth as Gavin Lucas, a corporate attorney who gains superpowers and fights crime. Roth’s character, who returns in a new sequel, is an out superhero.
When Roth started screening his new film Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel in 2016, he would say in interviews that there hadn’t been another gay big-screen superhero since his first film.
“Maybe the universe heard my words and brought about another gay superhero movie,” says Roth of Power Rangers, which was released last month by Lionsgate and has earned more than $73 million worldwide.
Those behind the Power Rangers movie have described that film’s groundbreaking character, Trini (Becky G), as “questioning” her sexual orientation. Though there’s just a small nod to this in the film, Power Rangers has earned praise from original Power Rangers actor David Yost, who left the original show after being harassed over his sexual orientation, as well as from GLAAD.
Roth notes the difference between his film’s portrayal of an LGBTQ character and Power Rangers.
“I watched Power Rangers, and I’m not sure I’d call the Yellow Ranger a gay superhero. If Trini is gay, you can’t really tell. There is only one moment in the movie that barely grazes the topic,” Roth says. “My character, Surge, however, is quite obviously gay, already out, and comfortable with himself. He talks about the perils of homophobia. It is stated in both movies that he fights hate crimes. He has a male romantic interest in both movies. It is unquestionable that Surge is gay in his personal life, and the import of that trait influences his superhero mission.”
Roth, who is a corporate attorney when he’s not playing a superhero, has a passion and persistence for his projects that helped him land more than 50 celebrities cameos in Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel. Each cameo he got, he’d use to leverage even more recognizable stars, until names such as Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig and The Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno joined. Original Power Rangers star Austin St. John, as well as former Yellow Ranger Karan Ashley, are also among the cameos. Walter Emanuel Jones, the original Black Ranger, will also appear in Roth’s web variety show, Surge of Power: Big City Chronicles.
In the comic book world, mainstream superheroes and villains are portrayed as LBGTQ, such as DC’s Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batwoman and Harley Quinn, as well as Marvel’s Ice Man. But when those characters have made it to the big screen, so far they have been portrayed as straight. When does Roth think a DC or Marvel movie will include an LBGTQ big-screen hero?
“I didn’t think it would take 12 years since the first Surge of Power movie for another gay superhero movie to show up,” he says. “There certainly is momentum with LGBTQ inclusiveness, but I couldn’t tell you when a big studio will bite that bullet. I can tell you that I am motivated to make a third Surge of Power movie, and while the sequel is bigger and better than the first movie, I intend the Surge of Power threequel to be even more so.”
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