December 11-12, 2021
When reminiscing about the ‘90s, one fondly remembers neon colours, Windows 95, the Sony Walkman, N’Sync, and of course, the Power Rangers. That iconic guitar riff is something etched into the minds of kids across the world, who were exposed to a world filled with giant robots, alien monsters, an evil witch on the moon, and a group of high school teenagers that catapulted into pop culture fame and brought about a franchise that would not only span two decades, with multiple spin-offs and films, but also a popular line of action figures, comics, video games and other merchandise.
This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Power Rangers, a franchise that began on the 28th of August 1993 with the premiere of the Saban produced series, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Since then, it has changed hands from Saban, to Fox, to Disney, back to Saban, and now to Hasbro, who seem to know a few things about giant transformable robots, and we’re interested to see what they can do in the future (more on that below!).
Twenty five years is not too bad for a series that manages to splice American-filmed and Japanese-filmed footage together to create something truly unique, not only for its time, but insofar as nothing else has come close to replicating its formula or success worldwide. Hasbro has marked the 28th as ‘National Power Rangers Day’ to celebrate the momentous occasion, but it’s also the air date of the highly anticipated Power Rangers 25th Anniversary episode, which takes place as part of the Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel series.
The episode, titled Dimensions In Danger, will follow Lord Drayvon, who intends to destroy the multiverse by kidnapping Rangers throughout the multiverse and creating evil clones of them to amass a huge army. To stop him, the Time Force Red Ranger will travel across dimensions to recruit other Rangers to battle Drayvon. Like previous special episodes in the past, this particular episode will see various Rangers from throughout the franchise make cameo appearances, which will no doubt be to the delight of adults who grew up watching the various series, and to the children captivated by the current incarnation.
Since its original release in 1993, the Power Rangers franchise has grown exponentially with over 20 different series released, and multiple films across the past 25 years. From high schoolers to space police, ninjas to samurai, emergency services to post-apocalyptic survivors, each series brings together a team of heroes and bestows upon them the ability to morph into the Power Rangers; powerful, colourful superheroes with the ability to summon and pilot fantastical assault machines called Zords, to defeat their enemies and protect the planet.
Not only do the colourful costumes and characters make for great toys, but the franchise also does well to play on its fans’ sense of nostalgia. Though multiple actors and characters have donned the coloured spandex over the years, the franchise has always included special episodes that saw former rangers make cameo appearances. From massive team ups like Forever Red, or the upcoming Dimensions in Danger, to seasonal crossovers like Trakeena’s Revenge, or Wormhole (in which the current rangers team up with the previous season’s heroes to defeat a common enemy), the series has always shown that coming together and working as a team can solve even the most insurmountable of problems, and if that somehow fails, then it’s time to get a bigger team.
Though popular among children, the Power Rangers franchise also quickly proved a fan favourite among adults, particularly hobbyists and cosplay artists. Each series brought with it new ranger costumes, a variety of villains and of course different Zords to pilot, which allowed fans the opportunity to be creative in their cosplay, build their collection of action figures and Megazords, and produce numerous fan-made films (one of the most notable being a short film which saw the Green Ranger, played by Supanova’s Supa-Star alumni Jason David Frank, fight the legendary Street Fighter character, Ryu).
For kids, the series is much more than just a flashy colourful toy commercial; it weaves virtues and values within its relatively simple storytelling. Whether it’s Billy learning to stand up for himself against the bullies Bulk and Skull in MMPR, Wild Force‘s Danny and his personal motto of “Never Give Up!” (a few years before a certain invisible wrestler would make it his own), Calvin getting over his fears in order to save the rest of the Ninja Steel team, or even Astronema’s personal journey from series villain, to friend and confidant, to answering the call and becoming a ranger herself, the show promotes and encourages things like friendship, confidence, teamwork, and standing up for what’s right… you know, in amongst all the other things like cool backflips and giant robots.
For adults, however, there’s such a wider universe out there to sink your teeth into! There’s the awesome tabletop RPG Power Rangers Hyper Force streamed over on Twitch, with cameos from past rangers, stories from across many timelines, to Paul Schrier FINALLY getting his time to shine as the Hyper Force Yellow ranger, it’s definitely something to check out if you’re looking for something a little different to the usual swords and sorcery that a tabletop RPG can bring. There’s also a wide variety of mobile games out there, from endless runners, to live PvP, if you’re looking for something to play while commuting, or during your downtime, or while writing long articles on the internet about your favourite show ever.
If you somehow missed out on the whole phenomenon, just want to relax in the warm glow of nostalgia, or even introduce a new generation to them, our friends at Netflix just happen to have all 24 seasons thus far just sitting, waiting to be binged over the course of a weekend or two. Pick a season, settle in, and you’ll be screaming out for Megazord power in no time! (Author’s recommendation is Power Rangers RPM: A computer virus turns the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and won’t stop until everything is under its control. Humanity’s last hope lies within the domed city of Corinth, and the Power Rangers that protect it.)
We talked to Catherine Sutherland about the legacy of the show and the memories that will withstand the tests of time.
Sutherland is known for her portrayal of Kat Hillard, the second generation Pink Ranger, following Amy Jo Johnson. Quickly settling in as a fan favourite, Sutherland formed long lasting friendships on and off screen. The Season 3 mini-series A Different Shade of Pink ushered in a new era for the Ranger team, giving Sutherland her grand entrance.
Throughout her 98-episode run, Sutherland recalls her favored moments. “My first day on set comes to mind. It was the first time meeting all the Rangers and there were so many people there to watch me. I was extremely nervous but feeling exhilarated at the same time,” Sutherland said. “Any time we got to travel was awesome. We went to Mammoth to film the episode There’s No Business Like a Snow Business“; “I loved an episode I did in Turbo called Weight and See because it had such an important message about accepting who you are and your heart being more important than what you look like on the outside”.
No one could predict its success at the beginning, but during Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ long television reign, it struck a chord for many reasons. “When I came onto the show, it was really at its peak. The first movie was just coming out and they were like rock stars in the world of kids,” Sutherland said. “I had no idea I would be here 23 years later. It’s a huge blessing and honour to be part of this franchise, we have the most amazing and loyal fans”. Attending conventions all over the world, Sutherland is deeply appreciative of her fanbase. “Fans have been so generous over the years and most of the things I have is from them,” she said.
Toy collectors and nostalgia-seekers alike have been well and truly #blessed over the last few years, not only with the re-release of classic Zords, figures, and props from the original series through the Legacy line of toys from Bandai, but also with high end collector items through the Japanese Soul of Chogokin and S.H.Figuarts labels. The Megazord (DaiZyuJin) and Dragonzord (Dragon Caesar) saw collectors add some of the most detailed, realistic Zords ever released to their collection, and now with the recently revealed Titanus (King Brachion) they can combine together for a whopping 3.5 kilograms of die-cast Ultrazord action.
Speaking of, while Power Rangers definitely didn’t invent the idea of the “Giant Robot” (that honour goes to Tetsujin 28-go), spending a quarter-century summoning giant robots and combining them in various ways leaves a mark among pop culture as a whole. Series like Voltron, Transformers, even Gurren Lagann have all taken a page out of the giant combining robot book, to the point that some franchises have even created toys of their own that dive head-first into it (see the awesome clip below!). Whether influenced by Power Rangers, or it’s Super Sentai roots in Japan, a team of heroes coming together to defend the Earth from the forces of evil in their awesome robots is a trope well and truly ingrained in the history books for eternity.
Like all things popular in the ’90s, tales of the Power Rangers weren’t just confined to the TV screen. Companies like Marvel, Valiant, Image, Tokyopop and Papercutz have all produced various takes on the Power Rangers franchise over the years, with Boom! Studios being the latest to pick up the torch and create some of the most amazing worlds and stories we could only dream of seeing played out on our screens. With little wink and nod references for older fans, great stories to hook new readers, and an entire range of variant covers based on classic films, it’s safe to say that the Power Rangers are safe with the team at Boom! Studios.
In conjunction with the 25th Anniversary, and to commemorate 25 issues of the comic book series, Boom! Studios and Saban have released a special crossover story event in the comic book series titled Shattered Grid, which was set to run from March to August this year. A special trailer for the event was released early this year, which saw Jason David Frank return as Lord Drakkon, an evil alternate version of Tommy Oliver.
If you like the idea of different Ranger teams coming together and kicking butt, Shattered Grid is the storyline for you! Bringing together the two concurrent comic titles Go! Go! Power Rangers! and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the teams must join forces across time, space, and all dimensions in order to stop Lord Drakkon from gaining ultimate access to the Morphing Grid itself. This series introduced an awesome foe in the Ranger Slayer and her Gravezord (a Megazord built from the destroyed remnants of other zords), provided some twists and turns, and a massive shakeup of the status quo. (Hot Tip: if you’re a ComiXology user and want to catch up on this awesome series, they currently have a SALE going on just for Power Rangers Day!)
That’s not all on the comics front though. Comic Supa-Star Tom Taylor recently penned a short crossover series called Justice League/Power Rangers, which is every bit as amazing as that sounds in your mind as it is on the pages. Between Superman trying to pull over the Pterodactyl Zord mid-flight, and our de-powered rangers suiting up in some appropriately fitting JL gear, it’s a wonderful short series you should definitely look into picking up next time you visit the comic store!
The Power Rangers franchise is certainly vast and, like the Megazords themselves, has only grown exponentially in the past 25 years, with no intentions of slowing down. With talks of a sequel to the 2017 film already happening as part of the Hasbro ownership, Boom! Studios shaking up the post-Shattered Grid landscape by introducing new rangers (and shuffling some old colours around), and plenty more TV seasons to come, with all kinds of concepts to adapt from the Japanese Super Sentai shows (bring on the trains!), it’s an exciting time to be a Power Rangers fan.
In fact, they’ve already released a trailer for 2019’s series Power Rangers Beast Morphers, in which our team of heroes suits up (in leather this time!) to face off against an evil sentient computer virus, using the latest in high tech weaponry, animal robot companions, and hangars full of amazing Zords.
The future of Power Rangers is so bright, even the helmets have sunglasses on them.