Despite their new armored suits, the Power Rangers are still both very mighty and morphin. Director Dean Israelite and Saban Entertainment made a conscious decision to drop the Mighty Morphin moniker from Power Rangers (in theaters now) to delineate the film franchise as its own entity, but the new movie hasn't ditched everything that made the cheesy '90s series so special.
Sure, the film panders to our collective nostalgia for coming-of-age teen movies and fighting robot dinosaurs (dinozords!!!), but it's so fun and self-aware in its pandering that it's admirable. Power Rangers knows exactly what it is, and more importantly, what its audience wants (more dinozords!!!). Perhaps even more impressively, it manages to capture the silliness of the original story while adding to its mythos in a believable way. Let's take a look at some of those new additions. (Spoilers ahead, obviously.)
Zordon: The Original Red Ranger
One of the coolest mythology changes the new film makes is establishing Zordon as a former Ranger — specifically, the original Red Ranger. The movie opens with a prologue set 65 million years in the past, as Zordon's team of Rangers have just been decimated by Rita Repulsa. In a last-ditch effort to save the world, Zordon buries all five Power Coins in the middle of the Earth for a future generation to find. He then sacrifices himself to destroy Rita.
Zordon's past as the Red Ranger — a.k.a. the leader — drives his motivations throughout the film. Unlike the peaceful sage we knew from the TV series, Bryan Cranston's Zordon has some unexpected grit, especially when it's revealed he only wanted the Rangers to morph so he could cross some sort of astral plane into the world of the living. He was using them! That's a total dick move, Zordon. But don't worry: He makes up for it by reviving Billy.
Zordon And Rita Repulsa’s Complicated History
Zordon isn't the only original Ranger in the movie. In that same prologue, it's revealed that Rita Repulsa was the original Green Ranger, until she went rogue and became an enemy to her former team. (This probably has something to do with Lord Zedd, but it's never mentioned.) It's an interesting dynamic I wish the film would have explored a little more. There's some obvious tension — and maybe some hurt feelings — between Zordon and Rita.
Of course, this all means that when Rita awakens 65 million years later, she's in possession of the green Power Coin. As eagle-eyed fans already pointed out, it's the green crystal in her staff. Sadly, there doesn't appear to be Dragon Dagger or a Dragonzord, unless Zordon has been keeping them stored in his ship all these years. (Though there's a possibility that Rita's staff, which she made from gold, could be her enhanced dagger.) There's also no additional shield for the Green Ranger, which is a serious bummer.
The Power Coins
The Power Coins, which now look like colored crystals instead of golden coins with dinosaurs imprinted on them, are the source of the Rangers' powers. In the Mighty Morphin series, these coins drew power from the prehistoric dinos that were depicted on them. But these all-new Power Coins draw energy from someplace else: the Rangers themselves. This effectively gives the Power Rangers their superpowers, which is a significant change from the original series. The Mighty Morphin Rangers could only fight, whereas these Rangers have enhanced speed, strength, and power. They can scale walls and jump across 100-foot chasms. There's also the fact that in the original series, Zordon was the one who gave the Power Rangers their coins, but in Israelite's film, they find them on their own. (Technically, it's kinda like the Power Coins found them.)
Since the Power Coins draw power from the Rangers, morphing is a slightly more arduous process. (Don't be alarmed: The Red Ranger still has to say the words, "It's morphin time.") In order to morph, the Power Rangers have to be a team. They have to open themselves up to their teammates and be in sync. Yes, this is a cheesy plot device to get Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, and Zack to bond — but it works.
No Bulk And Skull
Angel Grove High's dopey bullies, Bulk and Skull, don't appear in the film, but there is a generic teen bully who functions as a Bulk-and-Skull substitute. He harasses RJ Cyler's Billy — who's on the autism spectrum — during Saturday detention because, in case you weren't aware, these new teenagers with attitude are also delinquents. But they're good kids at heart!
I Repeat: Billy, A Superhero, Is On The Autism Spectrum
In the TV series, none of the characters ever managed to transcend their teenage archetypes, but the movie digs deeper. Trini, the Yellow Ranger, is questioning her sexuality. Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, is dealing with her own regret for texting a former friend's nude photo to a guy. Jason, the Red Ranger, is buckling under the weight of his father's disappointment. Zack, the Black Ranger, puts on a tough-guy front so no one can see how sad he is on the inside. But Billy, the Blue Ranger, is the true standout. He's the heart of the film, the twitchy genius who's always one step ahead of his fellow Rangers — not to mention, he's a superhero who's proudly on the spectrum. And that deserves a lot of praise.
Tommy Oliver Is There — Kind Of
This isn't so much a change as it is a cause for celebration, but after much speculation, Tommy does appear in the film — but only by name, and you have to stick around after the movie to see it. The Green Power Ranger tease happens during the film's mid-credits scene and features the Rangers' Saturday-detention teacher calling out Tommy Oliver's name. Tommy isn't there, but we do see a green jacket at his desk. This all but confirms Tommy's role in Saban's proposed sequels.