Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Ben Pearson
Lionsgate may be adapting a property from the ’90s with their new Power Rangers reboot, but the studio is also giving the movie a modern overhaul. Sure, it’s dark and gritty, but that’s not the only way the film is designed to connect with 2017 audiences: it’s also the first to feature an openly gay superhero. Learn more about how Lionsgate is introducing the first gay Power Rangers character below.
(Minor spoilers ahead, if you’re worried about that kind of thing.)
THR brings word that part of Power Rangers’ human element involves the Yellow Ranger, Trini (played by actress Becky G), coming to terms with her sexual orientation. In one scene, a character assumes Trini is having “boyfriend problems,” but quickly comes to realize that she’s having “girlfriend problems.” Director Dean Israelite explains what he thinks is one of the movie’s “pivotal” moments:
“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.”
Another Step Forward
Actress Thuy Trang played Trini in the ’90s TV series, and the character was depicted as straight, so this is new ground for the franchise, let alone for the genre as a whole. Discussion about diversity and inclusion has been ramping up in a big way in Hollywood over the past couple of years, so it’s promising to see studios including gay characters in big $100 million-plus budget blockbusters. Even Disney is joining the party; as you’ve undoubtedly heard, LeFou is gay in the new Beauty and the Beast (a reveal that could have been handled more elegantly, but at least it was well-intentioned).
Hopefully, this is just the latest step on the path toward gay characters being included in major movies often enough that it’ll become commonplace and we’ll no longer even need to write articles like this one.
Right now, though, this news sounds like it could run the risk of being a double-edged sword. I haven’t seen the new film yet, but from those quotes and the trailers we’ve seen, it seems as if this incarnation of Power Rangers is leaning into the idea of these characters being outcasts, which contrasts with the overly cheerful, carefree Rangers we saw in the TV series and 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. If this film treats Trini as an outcast solely because of her sexuality, that could add to the already-tired trope that being gay automatically means there’s something wrong with her. This means it’s the film’s job to dispel this myth. Hey, no one said social righteousness was easy.
It seems like the film has the stamp of approval from a key player in the franchise’s history. David Yost, the actor who starred as Billy, the original Blue Ranger, in the TV show and movie, is openly gay and actually ended up leaving the show because of harassment he received due to his sexual orientation. But he’s seen the new film and appreciates the way it handles Trini’s character:
“They really stepped up to the plate. I think so many people in the LGBTQI community are going to be excited to see that representation.”
Power Rangers opens in theaters on March 24, 2017. Here is the official synopsis:
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Saban’s Power Rangers follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.