On March 24th, Lionsgate’s lavish Power Rangers reboot will become the first superhero film to feature an openly gay protagonist.
That’s according to director Dean Israelite, who told The Hollywood Reporter that Becky G’s character Trini (Yellow Ranger) will experience “girlfriend problems” in a scene that’s been described as “pivotal” to the outcome of the movie. THR’s findings stay clear of spoiler material, you’ll be pleased to know, but the revelation that Power Rangers boasts an LGBT character in its ranks is a welcome, progressive step forward for Hollywood’s crowded superhero genre, particularly when you consider that the likes of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow have all featured gay and lesbian storylines since their inception.
“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.”
LGBT representation is an important issue for what is no doubt one of Hollywood’s more popular genres, and the fact that Power Rangers, an origin story that skews toward a younger demographic, incorporates a gay protagonist in a way that isn’t forced or disingenuous ought to be celebrated.
This news was accompanied by the first wave of admittedly mixed reviews for Lionsgate’s budding franchise-starter. Those snippets below are relatively spoiler-free, and it remains to be seen whether the critics have much of a bearing on the film’s box office performance.
Variety: “The new version tries to get all ironic and designer-techie and “ambitious” about rebooting the “Power Rangers” concept. Yet it’s all franchise window dressing. It can’t disguise the reality that the characters in “Power Rangers” have all the depth and idiosyncrasy of walking talking robo-teen action figures.”
The Wrap: “It’s a testament to these five actors and their collective charisma that they not only breathe real life into underwritten, cookie-cutter characters but also wind up being more interesting as regular teens then they are as color-coded superheroes. Yes, this is silly stuff, although the movie manages to play most of it with a straight face.”
THR: “For longtime fans, the newest installment preserves some of the most beloved characteristics of the original franchise, updated to reflect technological advances. Whether they’re dealing with bullying, alienation or peer pressure, these teens are more three-dimensional than their Ranger predecessors, but eventually, this repetitive effort to emphasize their relatability becomes so heavy-handed as to appear transparently manipulative.”
Screen Daily: “A teen group therapy session disguised as a superhero movie, Power Rangers is numbingly predictable and cynically made, recycling myriad blockbuster tropes but draining their adolescent pleasures in the process.”
Good, if not great looks to be the critical consensus thus far, but the big question will be whether that cautious optimism translates to a healthy box office return. All throughout production, Israelite and other creatives involved in Power Rangers have hinted at the possibility of exploring a sequel – heck, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer once claimed the studio’s franchise revival could span up to seven movies in total – but only time will tell if such sequel chatter is warranted.
Power Rangers opens on March 24th. Keep your peepers peeled for WGTC’s own review of Lionsgate’s budding franchise revival, which will be live on the site over the coming days.