Power Rangers is the most diverse superhero team ever put to film. Seriously. It’s so far above the competition that it shines a light on how poorly DC and Marvel are doing with representation in a genre that practically demands it by virtue of its stories.
The annoying – and almost unbelievable – fact is that neither the Marvel nor the DC big-screen universes feature superheroes of Asian or Latinx descent (Zoe Saldana got painted green!), openly LGBTQ superheroes, or superheroes with ASD or other disorders. There have been some side characters and villains, but when you look at the lineup for Justice League or The Avengers, there are some glaring absences. To DC’s credit, the shows on CW like Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash are showcasing a lot more diversity, but the films are woefully lacking.
Power Rangers manages to feature a previously unheard of level of diversity, in addition to a far better male-to-female ratio in its cast. They make it look easy (spoiler: BECAUSE IT IS, HOLLYWOOD).
So here you have Power Rangers, a budding film franchise aimed at a younger audience, showcasing more diversity in one film than any of their competition has done in numerous blockbusters. And that’s freaking awesome because representation really matters. Thanks to social media, the positive effect of representation is easily seen and measured.
When we interviewed Ludi Lin about his role as Zack, the most asked questions polled from fans, by far, was about Lin’s debut as the first Asian superhero in a major film.
— LudiLin (@ludi_lin) March 1, 2017
When news leaked that Becky G’s character, Trini, has a girlfriend in the film, Twitter lit up with cheers.
I see spoilers are out that Trini is queer, something I’m happy to see in a superhero movie aimed at young people. It’s a powerful scene. pic.twitter.com/v0f5I0OU1J
— Joshua Yehl (@JoshuaYehl) March 20, 2017
Trini (Yellow Ranger) is the first openly gay screen superhero! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/FbFKF9TGoC
— laura (@daisyrdley) March 20, 2017
Hearing RJ Cyler talk about the research and care he put into portraying Billy’s autism is surprising and refreshing news for a big budget superhero flick.
— Screen Rant (@screenrant) March 20, 2017
While some of these details about the characters are very very minor in the film, don’t mistake this for tokenism. Becky G’s portrayal of Trini is not defined by her sexuality. Ludi Lin’s Zack doesn’t fall back on stereotypes. They’re relatable, well rounded characters whose diverse aspects aren’t boxes for the studio to tick, but rather an integral part of their character’s makeup.
It’s very clear that the direction of Power Rangers is to be an inclusive, progressive superhero film. Seeing someone you identify with portrayed as a hero on film is a powerful thing, and if Power Rangers can showcase so many different types of people, then what’s Marvel and DC’s excuse?