Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers stands as one of the most iconic and familiar of all the children’s shows from the ’90s.
In 1993, Saban released Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers to critical success. In fact, it was even a rival of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Power Rangers hit America hard by combining colorful costumes, comedy, martial arts, and essential life lessons.
Saban’s show was an American adaptation of Toei’s Super Sentai series in Japan. Power Rangers borrowed stock footage and costumes from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, but each has its own take and flair. Actually, both franchises are still going on today!
Now, thirty years have passed since MMPR was created. What made MMPR so famous that it would become one of the most popular media? Let’s take a closer look.
Who Are The Power Rangers?In the sleepy town of Angel Grove, a galactic being named Zordon selects five teenagers. He and his companion, Alpha, ask these people to help him protect Earth from the evil witch Rita Repulsa. After being awakened from her imprisonment, Rita and her lackeys plan to attack Earth with an army of alien mutants.
Zordon was once able to battle Rita. Alas, after being reduced to a floating head in a tube, Zordon is now in need of assistance to defeat the witch.
Armed with the cosmic powers of the Morphing Grid, Zordon transforms these teens into Power Rangers. This transformation gives each of them enhanced speed and strength, access to powerful weaponry, and their own personalized animal mech units known as Zords. When combined, the Zords turn into the Megazord.
Using their combined strength, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers take on Rita’s armies and alien mutants to protect Angel Grove from her grasp. Even when Rita brainwashes Tommy Oliver to get her own Ranger, the Rangers find a way to turn her best-laid-out plan against her. She literally turns one problem into six afterward.
A Group of Teens Turned Heroes
Who are these teenagers?
Jason, the Red Ranger, trained in karate prior to his transformation. Arter, he adopts the role of the group’s leader. Billy, the Blue Ranger, might not be the most brave Ranger, but Billy is very clever and smart. Trini, the Yellow Ranger, practices kung fu, which comes out in her superpower days: her moves have style.
Meanwhile, Zach, the Black Ranger, enjoys dance so much that he made his own fighting style called Hip-Hop-kido. Finally, Kimberly, the Pink Ranger is a graceful gymnast and the most agile of the group. Her fighting style incorporates her gymnastics skills, enabling her to flip and jump over any foe.
As mentioned earlier, the Rangers eventually get a sixth member, Tommy. His karate skills rival Jason’s. However, his talents are a more recent acquisition, since he got his power through Rita Repulsa. Once he gets his free will back, he continues as the Green Dragon Ranger for a bit before coming back again as the White Ranger.
Jason, Zach, and Trini would eventually leave the group to go a world peace conference. When this happens, they hand over their powers to their friends Aisha, Adam, and Rocky. Kimberly also leaves eventually to return to a normal life. She leaves her powers to Katherine, also known as Kat.
Every Ranger returns in other shows in one form or another.
Mixing Everything Into A BlenderPower Rangers isn’t always about intense martial art scenes and giant robots. Between sequences lie moments of the Rangers trying to live their best lives during high school. They dealt with romance, fitting in, and even dealing with the local bullies, Bulk and Skull.
The series blends comedy and action really well, with one not being too overly dependent on the other. While Power Rangers was once controversial for its violence, the reality is that the fight scenes aren’t nearly as brutal compared to most martial arts movies.
As the series got more popular, Power Rangers also became part of PSAs to promote anti-bullying and anti-drug initiatives. The actors even took part, coming out in their costumes to talk to kids. Frankly, it was as close as you could get to meeting your favorite superhero in real life!
A Difference in Culture – But Not Success!As mentioned before, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from a popular Japanese series called Super Sentai. Specifically, it draws from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger or Dinosaur Squad Zyuranger.
Super Sentai is much darker in tone. Characters even die during the series. There were times when it often felt like a Japanese soap opera with superheroes. Conversely, Power Rangers maintains a much more light-hearted tone, suitable for children.
Still, on top of borrowing the costumes, likenesses in characters, and stock footage of fight scenes, you’d think this series would be a cheap rip-off.
However, it was far from it.
Power Rangers was not only a huge success in North America but across the world. MMPR was lightning in a bottle, leading to merchandising, movies, video games, toys, and even live performances. From 1993 to 1996, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the most talked-about show and is still considered the hallmark for all Power Rangers shows to come.
Some Controversial Power Rangers Decisions
Alas, not everything was going well behind the scenes of the series. Many cast members were treated poorly. For example, David Yoast, the actor for Billy the Blue Ranger, was a victim of homophobic bullying on set. He toughed it out for a little while, although he eventually left around the time Power Rangers Zeo ended.
After two seasons, actors Austin St. John, Thuy Trang, and Walther Emmanuel Jones also ended up leaving the show due to poor working conditions. Producers eventually recast them midway through the third season.
Saban would try to Americanize other tokusatsu, or live-action Japanese shows, like Kamen Rider and Metal Heroes. They created V.R. Troopers, Masked Rider, and Big Bad Beetleborgs, once again borrowing stock footage and costumes from Japan’s respective shows. However, their attempts would not yield the same results Power Rangers did. To be honest, the less that’s said about Masked Rider, the better.
The Power Rangers Special We Never GotMighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always was released on April 19 of 2023 on Netflix. Meant to celebrate both the 30th anniversary of MMPR as well as serve as a tribute to the late actors Thuy Trang and Jason David Frank, it surpassed everyone’s expectations. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that it’s best possible reunion we could have asked for.
Rita Repulsa returns as a robot and attacks the Rangers directly. She ends up killing Trini, after Trini saved Billy’s life. When the news reaches Trini’s daughter, Minh, she aims to take revenge for her late mother. Meanwhile, Billy and Zack try to bring their old gang back together as they set out to stop Robo Rita and give justice to their fallen comrade.
Despite critics having polarizing opinions, the fans of the original series were shedding tears of joy. Not only was it refreshing to see the old actors reprise their roles, but we also got a new Yellow Ranger. The special received much positive feedback that it may have also inspired a possible mini-movie, if rumors are to be believed1