When I first saw the preview for the new Power Rangers movie I was stoked. It looked like so much fun. So when the senior editors sent me a message saying that the Yellow Ranger, Trini, played by Mexican-American rapper/actor Becky G, was gay in the movie, I flipped out. I was embarrassed at first that I was so enamored by the movie, but that quickly went away. It’s a ton of fun, the teens act like teens, it’s genuinely funny, it’s genuinely emotional and it takes itself exactly as seriously as it should (or shouldn’t). Plus, Trini is a nuanced and terrific character whose queerness is addressed in a way that seems extremely real and relevant to today’s youth. I loved this movie and I love Trini.
Power Rangers is the first truly millennial superhero movie. With its cast of one white teen, a Chinese-American kid who lives in a trailer park, a young biracial woman, a queer Latina and a black kid with autism, they actually look like real group of modern teens. This movie is funny, it’s not dark or grim or grimdark. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it lets itself have a good time and be full of joy. It’s about friendship and family and teens being teens.
I’m a bisexual Mexican-American. I came out in large part due to Callie Torres and Santana Lopez. I started watching both Grey’s Anatomy and Glee because I heard that they had queer Latinas on them. I just wanted to see myself on TV and those shows gave me a chance to do that. Seeing myself in those characters is something I’ll never forget. Seeing them helped me to publicly become them. Or my own version of them. Now there’s a superhero movie featuring queer Latina character. This would’ve been my favorite movie if it came out when I was 13.
Sometimes we talk about how people shouldn’t get applauded for barely doing anything, and I’ve seen people say that specifically about this Power Rangers movie and its queer character. But I think that criticism, at least sometimes, is missing the mark. This isn’t a movie about a girl and her girlfriend. It’s not a “gay movie.” But it is a movie where queer girls, and especially queer girls of color will see themselves for the first time. And they’ll see themselves as a hero. That’s important. That’s huge. I have a friend who’s fond of saying that as a writer, there’s nothing more important than writing something that will turn a kid gay, and I agree. This movie is gonna serve that role for plenty of kids.
Some spoilers ahead:
Trini is a teen with attitude, and she’s pretty closed off from the other Rangers at first. In a scene where the Rangers are sitting around a campfire getting to know each other, Zachary, the Black Ranger, asks her if she’s having boyfriend problems, and she seems to sarcastically say “Yeah, boyfriend problems.” He follows up by asking, “Girlfriend problems?” She doesn’t say yes, but her silence makes it clear what her answer is. She then talks about how she doesn’t want to talk to her parents about her relationships and that she feels pressured from them to pick a label. She admits to her friends “I’ve never said any of this out loud before.” With polls and data showing that an ever increasing number of teens identify as something other than straight but not necessarily as lesbians or bisexual, it rang deeply true. Trini tells her friends that she’s figuring out her sexuality and that she likes girls, and in the process she finds a family.
Becky G, the actress playing Trini, told Hollywoodlife.com that she understands how important this is role is for young people.
“For me it is super important, I mean Power Rangers has always been about equality, diversity, and unity, and how can we make a movie about the people without acknowledging people being people and especially a coming of age story. I feel that the story is the same story a lot of people who are going to be watching this movie are going through, whether it is from the OG fans or the newer generation that will be introduced. So to me, I am very proud!”
Also, no one, not even any of the straight characters, has a romance plot in this movie. The closest we come is seeing Trini and Kim clearly flirting while fighting over a piece of donut and making eyes at each other. The next closest we come is when Rita Repulsa (played with marvelous camp by Elizabeth Banks) breaks into Trini’s bedroom at night and says “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” while wrapping her hands around Trini’s throat and putting her face right up to hers. This is a movie about the teens learning to be friends, and one of the ways they do that is showing Trini that they support her trying to figure out her sexuality.
I loved this movie, and I can’t wait to see the queer kids it gives birth too. There’s a queer Mexican-American girl superhero in a movie that just made $40 million on it’s opening weekend. That’s so huge. That’s so important. Hopefully this film continues to do well, as sequels are planned, and if they happen, we’re more than likely to see the Yellow Ranger get a girlfriend on the big screen.
Anyone else want to play pretend and fight the forces of evil with me? I call being the yellow ranger!
Seriously though, this made me really happy. I haven’t felt this represented since I watched WWE Smackdown long ago. Yeah, Eddie Guerrero didn’t exactly portray Mexican Americans in the most positive ways, but that was the only time I would see my culture on mainstream media. I’d rather say “I lie, I cheat, I steal” than to see another Mexican American woman act like a maid or like some helpless idiot that needs to be saved by a white man. It’s actually sad when I look back on this. So this movie is unexpectedly important for me and I can’t wait to watch it. I just need to drag my wife along with me.
This is such a great article! I just wanted to add that Naomi Scott, who plays Kimberly, is actually Indian, not white. So, 4/5 of the Power Rangers are actually POC.
thank you! we’ve edited the article!
I *thought* that was her! And now we’re all going to pretend that I recognize her from something other than a Disney Channel movie.
My friends dragged me to see it opening night and I’m glad they did! I really really liked this movie, it was fun from start to finish. Also my friend who is really into the power rangers and knows all the lore was happy, so I think this movie did a really good job.
I’d give a lot for a Gaysian Yellow Ranger, but queer Latina Yellow Ranger is also exciting!
I was going to see Beauty and the Beast but my timing was off so I decided to see Power Rangers instead (it was going to be seen soon, anyway, so it was really just one-now-one-later) and it was exactly what I was looking for.
I’m hoping that they keep the Native American background to the Green Ranger, but I’m hoping that they gender bend him to a her. That way the team is further gender balanced, instead of becoming further imbalanced. I’ve been advocating for Amber Midthunder from “Legion”. I also wouldn’t mind if she became Trini’s girlfriend instead of bringing in a guy to do a triangle with Jason and Kim.
There’s probably no way I’ll pay money to see this in a theatre, but I am really happy it exists. I’m 31 and my first gay lady crushes were the Pink Ranger and Alex Mack.
I went as the Red Ranger for two Halloweens and somewhere a gay lightbulb went off.
I’m glad this is happening and that the next generation of gay kids will grow up watching this.
So I was too old for Power Rangers when it debuted. So yeah, I think I will skip this one. But hey, if they bring back Mr T show with the gymnastics team and a lesbian romance between fellow team mates then I am all for it.
Full disclosure, I’ve seen this movie twice already. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see a biracial woman who is half Indian get cast as a superhero. I was totally obsessed with Power Rangers Dino Thunder as a child, so it’s basically my five-year-old self’s dream come true.
The fact that Kim and Jason didn’t kiss in the scene where she breaks into his room was thrilling to me. They could have pushed the romance between them, but they didn’t. I was smiling like a total geek during that scene where Kim and Trini are fighting over food. And can we talk about how Kim and Trini are so focused on covering each other’s backs in training and battles? Even the robot Alpha-5 comments on how they keep looking at each other in the ship. Whether the editors did this on purpose or not I do not know, but I hope they’re aware that they have some really natural chemistry.
I’m also of the opinion that Kim is the natural leader of the group, considering she most often comes up with creative ideas and her speech after Billy’s death was way more moving than Jason’s. She’s also often shown looking in a mirror, which from a film studies perspective is evidence that her subject formation is of major importance. I have a lot of thoughts on this movie ok
I don’t think it’s accurate to conclude from the campfire scene that Trini is not gay. The context implied she has internalized homophobia, vide being uneasy with the topic and calling her family so “normal”. So I would be cautious with praising the movie for showing “label-less” teen when most likely, as it’s hinted in interviews, she’s actually gay and will fully come out the next movie.
By the way, it reminds me of all those praises Kristen Stewart received from AE and AS for “f*ck labels” attitude, and then she came out as gay.
And speaking further about this part: “polls and data showing that an ever increasing number of teens identify as something other than straight but not necessarily as lesbians or bisexual”, the study that the article you linked to actually didn’t suggest so.
The study asked young people where are they on Kinsey scale. The majority still chose Kinsey 0, but second the biggest group were people who chose Kinsey 1. It doesn’t suggest they didn’t identify as straight since most people who feel some shallow attraction to the same gender (Kinsey 1) still identify as straight. Also, the number of people who choose Kinsey 5 and 6 is stable in studies across years.
Last but not least, I would definitely not be OK with Trini ending up as Kinsey 1 and media suggesting it’s actually very progressive portrayal.
It very interesting blog post. Trailers video is just awesome
It very interesting blog post. Trailers video is just awesome