Did anyone expect the new Power Rangers movie to be woke AF? The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers may have presented a world where teens from multiple cultures could perform karate and drive robots together, but the social commentary in the new Power Rangers film is something fierce. If a movie directed at children and older millennials who love karate robots is going to send out a positive message about everything from autism to gender norms then it should be celebrated.
Power Rangers manages to reimagine and translate the corny comedy and color coordination of the original series into a coming of age story that touches on everything mental disabilities to the presentation of female sexuality on screen. You’re not wrong if you stop paying attention to the film and start counting all the times the Power Rangers were woke AF. Power Rangers may not be the best movie ever made, but kids who see this movie in the theater are going to leave with some woke ideas. Keep reading to discover all of the political commentary in Power Rangers.
**Warning: Spoilers ahead**
In most films where the action occurs around a central group of friends, there comes a point in the end of the second act where the friends break up and have a montage to elucidate their sadness and the passage of time they hate each other. But not in Power Rangers. A lot of bad things happen to these characters (one of them dies, Rita wrecks one of their bedrooms, and they all get in a very bad train accident that's never spoken of again), but they never break up. Instead of going their separate ways the gang becomes sad together and decides to go camping near the active mine where they hang out. They bond, they share secrets, and one of them maybe drinks a beer - and then they're all better friends. It turns out that the real power in Power Rangers was friendship.
Going into the Power Rangers movie it's safe to assume that no one is going to die (or if they do die that they'll be resurrected via friendship), but the moment Trini mentions she's gay (or at least struggling with her sexuality) most viewers probably decided to not get too attached to the Yellow Ranger. In everything from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if a character comes out they're probably going to get buried. It's this incredibly strange trope where characters are too gay to live so they have to pay penance for their fabulous lifestyle. It doesn't make sense and it's reductive of an entire sexuality. Power Rangers doesn't do this. While her sexuality is ambiguous (likely so the film can play overseas), Trini is obviously struggling, she's not sure how to come out to her family, and she may not really like her friends, but unlike literally every other LGTBQIA character in cinema history she wasn't killed by her lack of straightness.
And thank goodness. The last thing a movie about a bunch of millennials with robot karate powers needs is for two of those people to fall in love. In Power Rangers lore Kimberly is in a relationship with Tommy. Fans of the show might recall some controversy over Kimberly not being with Jason - and this movie would've been a great change to turn the story into a standard damsel in distress narrative between either Kimberly and Jason or Tommy, but that's not what happened here. Instead, the film cut out all the "will they, won't they" tension between the two leads and even excised a kiss that would have completely changed the film. Good for them.
This might not seem like a big deal, but you'd be surprised how often this happens in a major film release. Go find a movie that was released in more than 1,000 theaters where a woman eats food and doesn't comment on it, have something negative happen to her, or become the butt of a joke. You can't do it. Power Rangers changes that. Admittedly the moment occurs in the middle of a crass bit of product placement, so this unshackling of a female character from the chains of food jail is more of a move inspired by capitalism than anything else, but the restraint in not having Rita say something like, "This Krispy Kreme glazed cruller is going straight to my thighs!" is sadly gargantuan. Let's put this in the win category regardless of the intention.