I cried. A lot
For the last few weeks, I have been gradually building up to this moment. Slowly but surely my emotions have ranged from tepid excitement to overflowing pure joy. Knowing that the Blue Ranger is autistic was a large part of the reason for my rather extreme reaction.
I was highly skeptical of the reboot when I first heard about it. I saw the pictures of the costumes and was even more doubtful – They looked like multicolour versions of Ironman, not the ill fitted bodysuits that I remember from the first season. When I first saw Rita’s new design I immediate rejected it. Nope. Not for me. Consistency is key.
Then the first trailer came out and it blew my doubts away. It looked amazing but we all know how misleading trailers can be. That was the first time I knew that I intended to watch it, at least when it comes out on Blu-ray. Then a few weeks before release, it was announced that subtle changes that they had made to some of the characters.
Apart from the colours not being so stereotypical (the Black Ranger is not the Black man), the Yellow Ranger is LGBTQ and the Blue Ranger is autistic. I honestly tried to not get too excited but as the reviews came out it became apparent that I would love it regardless. Let me explain why.
I don’t remember watching much TV when I was a child but I do remember watching Power Rangers – the original series that came out in 1993 – it was my first intense interest. My mother knitted the Pink Power Ranger doll and took me to watch the original film at the cinema. I had plenty of the toys including the original Megazord and I had the soundtrack on cassette tape. I used to listen to it repeatedly, but only in private. I never truly verbalised the depths of my obsession because I got teased for the little I did express. So, I buried it deep and hid it all these years.
Now that I am an adult, knowing that I am autistic and that it is okay; I can express it now. I feel no shame in getting excited when I finally got to see the new Power Rangers film on Mother’s Day.
My tears started the first time the characters interacted with Billy Cranston. Later when Billy said “I’m on the Spectrum,” and proceeded to try and explain; Jason’s response warmed my soul. Throughout the film, Billy demonstrated valuable skills that are vital for the team. The subtle moments, such as when he repeatedly sought clarification as to whether they are superheroes “Like Ironman or Spiderman” illustrates why I felt that it was an excellent portrayal of autism: Billy is a person – a hero. He happens to have autism.
We have our first Autistic Superhero on the big screen! A team member who is appreciated and crucial to the plot of the story. R J Taylor is phenomenal considering the fact he is not autistic himself. He has brought to life a realistic portrayal (at least from my perspective), of autism that celebrates the individual and does not make a big deal about the specifics of the condition.
I often like to watch a film repeatedly to fully enjoy the experience. Cinema viewing can be restrictive in my view because I cannot react exactly how I want to. For example, when they played the original theme tune for a few seconds I wanted to jump out my seat with joy. Instead, I settled for a huge grin, a hand flap, and a leg wriggle.
I cried with happiness because the Blue Ranger truly represented hope.
Here is a superhero I can truly relate to.
My tears were of the purest type – Joy.