Power Rangers was a delightful surprise for fans of the franchise. It was funny, colorful and modernized for the 2017 audience. One of these modernizations include the diverse cast of characters that make up the Power Rangers, including the LGBTQ character, Yellow Ranger Trini.
This was a major change from the original Mighty Morphin version of the character, and #PowerRangers writer John Gatins explained in the audio commentary of the DVD the thought process behind the decision:
"I wanted to feel like these teenagers were reflective of 2017. That was my continued argument – that come on, it’s 2017. Do I think that in time to come we’ll have a whole team of gay or questioning superheroes? Sure, why not. It’s the world we live in and we need it to reflect it. And I think we handled it with as much grace as we could. And [actress] Becky G. did such an amazing job and it was important to her too."
However, Gatins also understands that not everyone is as accepting of gay characters in nostalgic movies (Beauty and the Beast taught us that), and that there might be backlash for the decision. Nevertheless, Saban and Lionsgate were willing to take on that risk.
"It was a lot to ask of the Saban company and Lionsgate to go and scratch the surface of this issue."
It was during the campfire scene that Gatins and the rest of the crew really felt that the characters, including Trini, came into there own. Director Dean Israelite said that scene crystalized all the decisions they had made.
"I remember when we were finally in the editing room with everyone from Saban and Lionsgate, and we looked at the [campfire] scene, we all looked at each other and said ‘Yep, we’re going to do this’. And one of our producers started crying because it was such a profound moment for all of us. I’ll never forget that because it made us all feel that yeah we’re in the movie business, and we’re making a movie, and it’s entertainment, but there’s something important too about this."
It was that scene that made Gatins realize that it's 2017, and representation of the #LGBTQ community is very important for this franchise, especially after news came to light in 2010 about why actor David Yost left Power Rangers Zeo. It was initially thought that Yost left due to insufficient pay, but it was revealed that the actor left due to constant harassment about his sexual orientation.
According to Yost, he was often referred to as a "faggot," and the producers frequently questioned other cast members in private about his sexuality. After a week of contemplation and thoughts of suicide, Yost left late in the fourth season instead of continuing work another six months into the second film. He also stated that the co-workers involved with writing, filming and producing the show considered him "not worthy" to be where he was, and that he "could not be a superhero" because of his homosexuality.
It is certainly a welcome change for the franchise to want to correct the sins of the past. Power Rangers is now available on DVD, and the special features will include more exclusive audio commentary with director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins, deleted/alternate/extended scenes and outtakes.
What did you think of the decision behind Trini's character?