Color-Coded Power Rangers

Power Rangers 1- Mighty MorphinSince the dawn of recorded time (aka: the early 90’s) the Power Rangers have fought the forces of evil with their flashy suits and even flashier fight scenes. Initially there were five Rangers, eventually joined by a sixth, and their characters seemed to be irrevocably entwined with the color of their suit. Not only did the characters wear street clothes of the same color as their Ranger suits, but as they left the team and their suits were taken on by new members, the character traits seemed to remain largely the same.

For example, the Red Ranger will invariably be the leader (unless some upstart punk joins the team late and decides he’s in charge now) and will typically be full of bravado and inspiring speeches. He will also always be male. The Pink Ranger will always be female and she will probably embody very traditional ideals of femininity: gentleness, a fondness for nature, grace, etc. The Yellow Ranger will typically be a spunky young woman, more spitfire than the girl donning the pink.

Also sometimes the colors will be really racially insensitive

Also sometimes the colors will be really racially insensitive.

Despite the frequently changing Rangers, there always seemed to be a tie between the color of the suit and the personality of the one wearing it. It was often the case that the new team members seemed to be new variants of the person they were replacing. Not only do the colors seem to determine what kind of person will wear them, they also seem to be very gender-specific. For the majority of the Rangers’ history Yellow and Pink have been exclusively female while any and all other colors were reserved for the guys.

Even though the Japanese series on which the original Power Rangers were based had a male Yellow Ranger, the American version cast a female in the role instead. While it did offer more female representation on the show it also did something very limiting for women in the series by relegating them exclusively to the “girl colors” of Yellow and Pink from the get go while every other color seemed to be open to the men. Because Yellow and Pink were never the leaders of the team, female Rangers seemed to be precluded from this position, though one early exception to this rule came in the form of the Alien Rangers whose leader was a female White Ranger. They were a very special case though, coming from another planet and really only being around to help out Earth’s Rangers when they were incapacitated for an extended period.

For many years the Power Rangers continued on in this fashion until the Time Force Rangers saw the first Pink Ranger in the lead. Somehow, though, I don’t remember much about her being the leader…

I wonder why that is?

I wonder why that is?

It wasn’t until Power Rangers Ninja Storm that the Power Rangers really started breaking out of their color-coded gender norms. While the leader of the Rangers was still the Red Ranger there were two firsts: the first female Blue Ranger and the first male Yellow Ranger. Not only was a girl allowed to wear one of the traditionally male colors (and there’s probably no more male color in American culture than blue) but a man was actually allowed to wear one of the female colors which seems even more surprising.

Power Rangers 4- Ninja StormIt’s one thing for a woman to be shown with masculine characteristics, that’s usually associated with strength in the media, but a man, especially a straight man, taking on feminine characteristics is usually seen as degrading since being female is given so little respect in our culture.

Thankfully the Power Rangers have shown some growth in their many years fighting evil. Hopefully they will do so even more as they continue their battles. Maybe one day we’ll see a female Red Ranger or even a male Pink Ranger! The former seems more likely than the latter, but one can dream! I think the Ninja Storm Rangers showed us that the gender-restrictive color-coding should be defied more often because they were a kick-ass team.

Power Rangers 5- Ninja Storm

10 thoughts on “Color-Coded Power Rangers

  1. If I remember correctly, the Pink Ranger in Time Force became the leader because her fiance, the Red Ranger, died. Then they traveled to our time and found a new guy to be the Red Ranger, and the story focused more on him. I hear that there has been a female Red Ranger in one of the later series, but I haven’t kept up with the franchise since Dino Thunder.

  2. There was a female red ranger, Charlie from Power Rangers S.P.D.. Other than that I don’t have much to contribute except since the 20th anniversary of the series is coming up I am looking forward to everyone from my childhood come back. Preferably like this: http://youtu.be/9BRlZ2am0wU except American.

    Great article by the way.

      • As far as I know the red and yellow for Hurricaneger were both male and the blue was female. The other two were brothers. Then there was the sky ninja who had many forms. It’s been a loooooooong time since I watched it so I may be wrong but I just remember the chick’s name because every time I heard it I always felt like watching/reading Nana. The video is awesome tho. Too much excitement in one video.

        • Right, that’s what I remembered too which was why I was confused by the presentation in the video with female Yellow and Navy and male Blue. Someone commented on the page and said they weren’t supposed to be the actual teams from the seasons shown, but rather the current team in all the different seasons’ outfits. I guess that’s why they weren’t always the right sex.

  3. First I’d like to simply see the SixthRanger be a female giving them a gender equal alignment.

    Thing is eventually the Japan source series also starting making the Yellow ranger Female, mostly since then Power Rangers hasn’t been changing the gender alignment.

    The Power Ranger have always tried to be ethnically diverse, but still in limited roles. Besides Tommy’s promotion Red/The Leader is always White. And all most always there is only one Asian, and the females are almost always 1 Asian and 1 white.

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