Lionsgate’s big-budget Power Rangers reboot reunites the original team of mighty morphin’ martial artists who fought their way onto television in 1993, followed by a big-screen adventure two years later. And fans of that inaugural line-up can probably still recite their names from memory: Jason, the Red Ranger (played in the new film by Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly, the Pink Ranger (Naomi Scott), Billy, the Blue Ranger (RJ Cyler), Trini, the Yellow Ranger (Becky G), and Zack, the Black Ranger (Ludi Lin). So every Ranger is present and accounted for before go going into battle against Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), right? Not quite. One key team member is MIA for the duration of Power Rangers, introduced only in a closing credits sequence that will delight viewers familiar with Rangers-lore and likely to confound those still learning the difference between a Zord and a Zeo Crystal.
That missing Ranger is Tommy Oliver, a.k.a. the Green Ranger, whose role spanned multiple versions of the TV series. Introduced midway through the first season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Tommy subsequently morphed into other guises — including the Red Turbo Ranger and the Black Dino Ranger— on later editions like Power Rangers Turbo and Power Rangers Dino Thunder, respectively. In all those appearances, he was played by Jason David Frank, who has a brief cameo in the new Power Rangers, though not as his signature alter ego. In fact, Tommy doesn’t appear on screen at all in the post-credits scene, suggesting that, should there be a Power Rangers 2, Lionsgate will launch a high-profile hunt for the right person to play the new Green Ranger.
Here’s how it goes down on screen (spoiler alert!): Midway through the closing credits, the movie cuts back to the detention room where three of the five troublemaking Rangers — Jason, Kimberly, and Billy — first encountered each other, Breakfast Club-style. This time, they’re joined by Trini and Zack, who had blown off enough school to earn a semester’s worth of weekend detentions. As the quintet trade notes about the crazy adventure they’ve just been on, the hapless Richard Vernon stand-in announces that they have a new student joining the detention crew: Tommy Oliver. At that point, director Dean Israelite directs our attention to an empty desk with a green jersey hung over the chair. Then we cut away to a quiet school hallway that’s rocked by a sudden explosion. In case that stinger leaves any doubt that the Green Ranger cometh, the official Power Rangers Twitter account tweeted out this poster the night before the film’s opening weekend.
So what does Tommy’s arrival mean for Power Rangers 2? Well, if they’re planning to follow Ranger canon, the Green Ranger was originally a foe, rather than a friend. Debuting in the 17th episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Tommy was already a skilled fighter under the command of perpetual Rangers foe Rita Repulsa, who instructed him to clear a path for her ultimate triumph in her Earth-conquering plans. She picked the right surrogate: With his Green Ranger abilities, Tommy deals the other costume-clad adventurers some significant body blows, until the Red Ranger manages to eke out a last-minute victory in a head-to-head battle. But in defeat, Tommy also triumphs: Rita’s spell is broken, leaving him free to join the good guys…and become Kimberly’s off-again, on-again love interest.
As the launching pad of a planned six-film franchise, Power Rangers certainly lays the groundwork for a similar narrative arc. After all, in this version of the story, Rita happens to be a former Green Ranger, who turns against her team in the film’s prologue, killing them all on a prehistoric Earth in pursuit of the planet’s energy-generating Zeo Crystal. She’s equally hungry for that mystical object when she reawakens to face a new group of Power Rangers some 65 million years later. And while the neophyte warriors win this round by literally punching Rita into deep space, her fate is far from sealed. If and when she finds her way back, she’s going to be in an Empire Strikes Back kind of mood, and Tommy — who, as the mid-credits teaser implies, is already a bit of an explosive personality — can serve as the Darth Vader to her emerald-colored Palpatine. (It’s worth noting that Rita already tries to play spoiler once in Power Rangers, cornering Trini in her home and forcefully suggesting that the Yellow Ranger should turn against her friends.) Anyone else find the looming alliance between Rita and Tommy…disturbing?
Bryan Cranston Morphs Into the Red Power Ranger on ‘The Late Show’:
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