So, a little movie by the name of “Power Rangers” dropped last weekend, and yours truly was able to catch it opening night. I loved the hell out of the flick, which re-kindled a passion I thought may have begun to fade. My love for this franchise goes back to that very first episode from 1993, and continues to this day, checking in on episodes of Ninja Steel.
In the spirit of that love, I thought it would be fun to take a week and highlight some of what makes the show so special to me. Thankfully, I have about 25 years of material to work with. Today, I’m showcasing my favorite morphs.
Anyone with even a casual understanding of Power Rangers knows the phrase “It’s morphin’ time!” The show takes the Super Sentai formula of civilian heroes that transform into their helmeted superhero counterparts with some sort of device (that can be shrunken down and sold as a toy). This is a stark contrast to most American superheroes, who have to put on their costumes one leg at a time.
I love the morphing sequence in these shows because I’m a sucker for the anime trope of announcing your attack first. Announcing your superhero transformation is the ultimate version of that. Power Rangers has a lot of ways to play around with these transformations. Each season has a different motif than the last, so the morphs can be drastically different. Plus, directors can mix up the changes in a season, with things like having the characters morph in the middle of a fight (director Koichi Sakamoto is especially great at this). With all this in mind, let’s have a look at my five favorite Power Ranger morphs.
5) Power Rangers Zeo
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers first three seasons will always hold a special place in my heart. However, later seasons of the show definitely improved on the groundwork layed out by the first few entries. The morphing sequence is a great example. The transformation scenes from Mighty Morphin’ were simple cutaways that gave you the idea of a change without actually showing it (juxtapose this with the updated version of the Mighty Morphin’ Black Ranger’s morph for the 15-year anniversary to see what I mean).
Once Zeo debuted, we finally got the goods. Characters call out their ranger color, and you see that costume digitally wrap itself around them. It’s a great sequence that wonderfully highlights just how short Tommy is compared to the other rangers. It definitely helps that the Zeo costumes are some of the series’ best.
4) Power Rangers In Space
Power Rangers In Space was the sixth season of the show, which closed out the “Zordon era.” After this season, the cast and motif would change every year, with a few exceptions. Now, this season DID go back to the Mighty Morphin’ format of cutaways. However, there’s a lot more to unpack here. I say that literally, as it looks like whenever a ranger hits “3-3-5” on the keypad, you’re treated to a burst of data, with the ranger spinning around in the center. If you pause it, you can see the Engrish left from the Sentai version (“GETTING AWAY WITH IT LEAD.”) The very first time the rangers morph in this season, we’re treated to a tiny moment of each ranger looking down, then opening their eyes to the camera right as the change happens. It’s a nice extra touch to an already great morph.
3) Power Rangers Time Force
I’m giving Time Force the number three slot almost exclusively for that morphing call. “TIME FOR TIME FORCE!” is so damn catchy, it’s 75% of they lyrics to the show’s theme. The morphing sequence itself is similar to its Sentai counterpart, with one cool wrinkle. In the show’s story, each morpher is tied to the DNA of its owner. So, Power Rangers added a little DNA strain in each morph, which meshes well with the numbers and other “time-related” items surrounding each ranger.
2) Power Rangers Dino Charge/Dino Super Charge
This team’s morphers are guns that shoot out dinosaurs that bite the rangers on the head to turn into their helmets. Dino Charge is a goddamn DELIGHT, ya’ll.
1) Power Rangers RPM
I was already digging the RPM team’s morphing sequence by the time I got to the episode seen in the above video. Like Time Force, “RPM! GET IN GEAR!” is a really catchy call out. The sequence is quick and to the point, with a bitchin’ guitar riff that really sells the badass fight scene you’re about to watch (seriously, go watch RPM). However, what really puts this over the top is how the show played around with the morphing trope.
The running theme of explosions happening behind rangers for no reason has been around for a while now, with RPM taking it a step further and adding one behind each ranger EVERY TIME THEY MORPH. In this episode, it’s played for laughs, until Flynn, the blue ranger gets the idea to weaponize it. It’s a fantastic meta idea that could only happen in a show with a history like Power Rangers.