March has been a big month for "historic" LGBTQI moments in film. First, there was the controversial "exclusively gay" moment in Disney's remake of Beauty and the Beast, which amounted to LeFou (Josh Gad) dancing with a man for a few moments and received mostly criticism. And, for that matter, it didn't amount to much of a statement. But Power Rangers, which will arrive in theaters this Friday, promises something more: a questioning character. Director Dean Israelite told The Hollywood Reporter that the Yellow Ranger, Trini, is coming to terms with her sexual orientation. A scene in the movie features Trini (Becky G) struggling with "boy problems" that turn out to be "girl problems."
"For Trini, really she's questioning a lot about who she is," Israelite said. "She hasn't fully figured it out yet. I think what's great about that scene and what that scene propels for the rest of the movie is, 'That's okay.' The movie is saying, 'That's okay,' and all of the kids have to own who they are and find their tribe." The director calls the scene "pivotal" in the film.
With this development, the movie successfully features a character who fits under the LGBTQI umbrella. Unfortunately, this is a first for mainstream superhero films. For all the genre blockbusters that have emerged from the big studios in the past four years — it feels like there have been 87 million — none have featured a LGBTQI lead.
David Yost, who played the Blue Ranger in the original Power Rangers series in the 1990s, sees the decision as inclusive. Yost himself is openly gay and, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, left the original show due to harassment.
"They really stepped up to the plate,” Yost told THR. “I think so many people in the LGBTQI community are going to be excited to see that representation.”
Of course, for every small step in big-budget blockbuster films, there are leaps and bounds occurring in more niche mediums. The CW show Supergirl recently featured a lesbian character, and comic books have been featuring inclusive story lines for decades. (Marvel's Astonishing X-Men first featured a gay character in 1992.) In 2017, CW Seed will premiere Freedom Fighters: The Ray, in which the lead will be a gay DC Comics superhero of that name. The series will only be on the digital platform, and it's animated.
The Yellow Ranger's identity struggles in the upcoming film seem paltry in comparison to these more impressive bounds, and the inclusion of a "questioning" character in such a film is long past due, but it's something. Like they say, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. And, apparently, Power Rangers.