Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is a cult classic amongst ‘90s pop culture enthusiasts and Power Rangers fans. Even with its fairly standard ‘90s adventure movie plot, wherein the Rangers lose their powers and have to go on a mystical quest to gain new ones, the film still sticks in the mind. Main baddie Ivan Ooze chews all the scenery, there are some impressive fight scenes, and the Rangers save the day by kneeing a monster in the balls. Yes the CG is dated, the story doesn’t hold up to some of the better episodes of the show, and it’s not in continuity with the series but if you want to have a movie night with friends of a certain age, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is a solid watch.
While many love the film exactly as it is, it didn’t go from script to screen completely unchanged. An early draft of the script we discovered, dated October 15, 1994, written by Arne Olsen and David Kemper (the final film credits Arne Olsen with a story by John Kamps and Arne Olsen) has many changes that if included could have made for a very different viewing experience. The script contains new characters, fleshed out backstories, altered scenes, and makes us question the long-standing belief that the people behind the film didn’t “get” Power Rangers.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of every single change from script to screen. There are hundreds of them throughout but we’re focusing on the biggest changes that add new context to the film.
Fleshed Out Backstories
Even though this film isn’t in continuity with the Power Rangers TV series there’s still a lot here for fans to dig into that offer clues to a much bigger universe happening behind the usual stories we’d get in the show. While the script doesn’t have the opening voiceover, which originally gave much of the backstory for Ivan Ooze, here the characters themselves deliver it.
Zordon tells the team that Ivan Ooze “rid entire cities of their adult populations, then twisted the minds of the kids into following in his evil path.” So Ivan’s luring of children and getting rid of their parents wasn’t just a one-off plan for this film, there was some precedent behind it! He further explains that a rebel faction of young people “known as the Order of Meledan” rallied against Ooze and lured him into a hyperlock chamber that was then buried deep underground.
Some of that was given in the movie’s original intro but it still paints a more detailed picture of Ivan. The Order of Meledan, long whispered about in hardcore Power Rangers fan circles, paints an intriguing picture. Later in the script Dulcea tells the Rangers how she knows Alpha and in doing so reveals more about The Order.
She describes it as an interstellar peace keeping force headed by “the finest commander in all the galaxy… Zordon of Altare.” (Yes, they misspelled Eltar throughout the script as Altare.) Zordon was more than a commander though, Dulcea calls him a “legend” and without him the universe would be “a very different place from what it is today.”
This is incredibly significant. Zordon’s backstory in the show was vague. We knew he had a physical form at one point and battled Rita but to get confirmation he was the head of a force of warriors? This is the kind of information fans always suspected before the 2017 film made it a central plot point and the recent Boom Studios comics began to address it. The film isn’t in continuity with the show (or the comics for that matter) but to know at one point Zordon was given more history and was all over the universe saving people, should give Power Rangers fans chills. We can only wonder if this build up of Zordon’s character was only to give added weight to this film or if they were laying the groundwork for further films to explore it.
Dulcea doesn’t directly mention what happened to The Order of Meledan but after “our enemies” were defeated she returned to Phaedos (where she resides in the film) and Zordon and Alpha moved on “to continue the struggle elsewhere.” Did they take The Order with them? Who else was a part of it? Questions we’ll sadly never get the answers to.
The script however does give us more details about “The Great Power.” In the film it’s mostly kept vague, a simple power source that gives the Rangers their suits back and allows Zordon to return from the dead. The script takes more time explaining it (which was likely cut out for pacing and time reasons) where Dulcea explains that it originated in another time and dimension, brought to Phaedos by the now all but extinct “Nathadian” race. They were the ones who built the stone monolith later seen in the climatic “Guardian” fight in the film and stored the power inside to keep it hidden from their enemies.
The Nathadians are continually brought up in the script, with the race actually being the origin of the term Ninjetti. During the team’s training with Dulcea (more on that later) she lays out that, in Nathadian, “nin” stands for “man” and “Jetti” stands for animal. Ninjetti is man and animal, together as one, “the highest state of being.” How does Dulcea know all this? She’s the sole living descendant of the race!
While the film itself gives us precious little about Dulcea and mostly leans on her past connection with Zordon. Here at least we get a bit about her culture and how that ties into the Rangers’ new powers. It makes Dulcea less of a plot device; she gets to be a person.
Perhaps one of the most fun backstory additions in the film is also tied to a changed scene. In the final film Alpha uses the last remaining power in the Command Center to transport the Rangers to Phaedos. In the script however they travel by a spacecraft that belongs to Alpha.
Hidden in the command center is “a Stinger PX-3000 with dual thunder-cams, long held to be the most reliable Interstellar Craft in the Galaxy.” Alpha relates that he arrived on Earth in the craft over four hundred years ago. Kimberly isn’t impressed, suggesting they swing by a car wash because it’s so dirty inside.
It’s a small beat but it’s fun and suggests that Alpha arrived on Earth independently of Zordon. Maybe the two parted ways at one point and he went off to have his own adventures. We know Alpha has karate chopping action, so maybe he’s the hero of a far off galaxy!
While reading through the script I noticed that while the structure of it isn’t all that different from the finished film, a lot of sections were cut, likely for time or budgetary reasons. A few side characters didn’t make it to screen, one of which is the long rumored Snoggle. Glimpsed in behind-the-scenes photos and videos for years, Snoggle has held an air of mystery as a huge dropped part of the movie.
For anyone out there wondering what his point in the movie was, his role in the script isn’t that significant and he’s mostly there to be a sidekick to Dulcea. He’s described as “a helper, an anteater-like creature” who doesn’t speak English. His biggest contribution to the plot is lightly mocking the Rangers as they train with Dulcea.
Far more interesting is the never before seen Queen Tengu. Yes, while in the film the Tengu simply obeyed Ivan Ooze’s commands. here they have a leader. She’s created out of a bolt of energy from Ivan and is described as having a different color than the rest of the Tengu along with “glowing red eyes.” It’s also specified that she speaks with “squawk subtitles.” She gets to play an integral part in a cut fight scene we’ll get to later.
Also, Fred’s mom is in script. She doesn’t do much but hey, she’s there for the lead kid character to worry about!
Most scenes in the script have at least a few differences, changed words, small bits of description that didn’t make it into the film, etc. We’re going to focus on the biggest changes, scenes and moments that would have made a significant difference to the film.
Remembering the Cast Changeover
Kimberly’s mini speech about how Zordon has been like a father to them all is in the scene just after Ivan attacks him. Her heart to heart with Tommy also take place not on Phadeos but on Alpha’s old ship as they travel to the planet. The other Rangers join in on the conversation with Aisha’s touching addition, “you know, meeting Zordon… teaming up with all you guys… it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Rocky chimes in with, “it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to ALL of us.”
It’s a great little moment that not only brings the team closer together but also acknowledges the then recent cast changeover that happened in the TV series.
The biggest changes though begin when the Rangers are given their Ninjetti powers. Instead of just a swirling light the Rangers put their hands in an urn. There they see and take on the shape of their animals, the costumes appearing as Dulcea describes their traits. In a bizarre omission most of the Rangers get flowery descriptions of their animals (“cunning and swift”, “agile and sublime”, etc.) Rocky doesn’t get any! Dulcea just says “Rocky, you are the Mighty Ape” and moves on. Ouch.
Adam’s now legendary line “I’m a frog” isn’t present in the script but a slight variation of it is. He simply says, “a frog” when given his powers. Dulcea at least tries to make it sound cool, calling the frog “the artful jumper.”
There’s a bigger ticking clock added when the Rangers head to the monolith in the forest. Dulcea relays that once they cross the threshold to the inner sanctum they only have about two minutes to release the power or it’ll self-destruct, “causing a thermonuclear reaction of such magnitude that the entire planet will instantly burst into a billion flaming particles hurtling through space.”
That’s…. a lot. In the film we just had the threat of Zordon losing his life but here the Rangers themselves will bite it if they don’t unlock the power fast enough. If that idea was kept that would mean they couldn’t have a long fight outside the monolith so that’s probably why it was cut.
Tommy Is An Idiot
The scene at the monolith itself of course lasts longer than two minutes worth of screen time, with the Rangers all trying to find a way to unlock the great power. In the absolute funniest moment of the script, Adam suggests they have to break through as “our Ninjetti animals.”
Tommy takes this hilariously literally and the script delightfully describes how he “dives through the air, hits the monolith with a resounding crunch.” Don’t vote for dummy, am I right? For all of Tommy’s status as the most legendary Ranger of all time, in the show itself he’s actually pretty stupid. How he became a doctor I’ll never know.
Bringing Zordon Back to Life
The Rangers do finally unlock their powers thanks to a communication from Zordon just before the monolith explodes. He tells them to keep their spirits up which somehow makes the Rangers realize they have to master the spiritual side of their Ninjetti powers.
The team wins the day but instead of teleporting from Phaedos to the city as they do in the film, they instead go back to the command center. There the scene largely plays it as it did later in the film with the team using their new powers to restore the command center and bring Zordon back to life.
It’s hard to know whether this scene was shot in the film with the intention of it being used after they left Phadeos but was switched around in editing but eagle eyed fans might want to give it a watch again.
With the Rangers bringing him back to life Zordon gives the Rangers new power coins as “a reward for your amazing bravery” which will unlock their new Ninja Zords. No explanation is given for where the Zords came from which… is the most Zordon thing this script could do. He always had an extra Zord fleet just hanging around whenever the Rangers learned a lesson. Maybe the writers of this film understood Power Rangers more than we give them credit for!
The Final Zord Battle
The Megazord fight in the city goes for much longer than it does in the film, the CGI costs most likely preventing some of the wilder events the script describes such as the Megazord getting tossed into Angel Grove First National Bank and the Megazord delivering double punches, drop kicks, roundhouse hooks, and spinback kicks. Would have loved to see that PS1 cutscene Megazord try and pull those off!
Later in the fight Ivan grabs the Zord and takes them to “Westside Bluffs” where he tosses them off a cliff but of course Tommy saves the day by swooping in with the Falcon Zord and attaching himself to the back so they can fly. This is almost immediately undercut as the fight continues underwater. Ivan ends up landing in an active underwater volcano, which was, again, probably deemed too expensive to pull off with the limited CGI resources of the film.
One of the most well known cuts from the film is that the Rangers were originally shown without the visors in their helmets. This was done to better convey the actor’s emotions during filming of the action scenes. The idea was thankfully scrapped but it’s prevalent in the script. Alpha tells the team he’s retro-fitted their helmets with new “Omni Scan devices.” We aren’t sure if this is just another power-up or if “Omni Scan” is just a fancy description for “we took the visors out of your helmet so I guess you have a slightly bigger range of vision and your identities are now completely exposed.” The Rangers go visorless again later in the film when they get their powers back.
The Rangers also get new individual powers. Billy has an “Audio Enhancer” that takes the form of an “Auto Phonic Receiver” that pops out of the side of his helmet. Rocky has a Power Tracker that’s basically a scope that snaps into place over his left eye. Presumably this would have been inside the helmet. This is an earlier version of the scanner he ended up using in the finished film.
Ivan Ooze also gets a few new powers of his own. Instead of the scene when he tricks the Rangers into thinking he’s a security guard and then morphs into his true form, in the script Ivan makes an even showier entry. The Rangers spot a “grotesque horned creature” that springs out of a cave and lands in front of them. It snarls, exposing long dripping fangs. Only then does it shape into Ivan Ooze. He then doesn’t unleash the Oozemen on the team but instead zaps six rats. Previously mentioned in the script, they’re transformed into “six hairy rat-beasts.”
These rats were built for the film but were scrapped for not being high enough quality. However, they did find a use when filming on the movie went over schedule and they had to shoot episodes of the TV series in Australia (these scheduling issues caused several planned episodes to be scrapped and lost to time, which you can read more about here). The rats were deemed good enough for the show and appeared in the “Return of the Green Ranger” mini-series.
Back in the film, Tommy gets to show off a new power when he shoots laser blasts from his eyes. Saba, called the “Saba Saber” here, doesn’t get to save the day as he does in the film. When the rats are incinerated by Tommy’s blast they turn back into the six original small rats.
Even the Megazord gets a cool… old/new power? While in the film the Rangers just whip out a sword, here the script describes the Rangers summoning the “POWER SWORD.” It even drops from the heavens like in the show! This probably wasn’t supposed to be the original Megazord’s power sword… but what if it was? How much of an amazing callback would that have been? Mostly likely though it would have been the same design as in the film, just dropping from the sky like the original Power Sword did.
The biggest sequences cut from the film feature the Rangers training as Ninjetti. While in the film they were given the powers very quickly, here we get several extended training scenes with Dulcea. She trains each of the Rangers individually, walking along a bamboo log on her hands with Kimberly, lifting a giant boulder with Aisha, fighting Billy with a whistling stick blindfolded, and Tommy flying through the air from a rope. Adam and Rocky don’t get any training because I guess this script really has it out for those guys. Throughout all this Snoggle watches and is just a sassy little jerk to them.
These scenes were probably scrapped either for time or the fact that they’d been shot with Mariska Hargitay, who’d replaced Gabrielle Fitzpatrick after she was injured just before filming began. However after months of shooting the producers then decided to reshoot all of the Dulcea scenes which they brought Fitzpatrick back for. We’ve seen behind-the-scenes footage of Hargitay performing these scenes so perhaps they were deemed too expensive to mount again or simply cut even after the reshoots.
In what is perhaps the best idea cut from the script, the Rangers are all struggling to master their Ninjetti powers. Rocky, at least getting one moment of character, lashes out at Dulcea,
“I don’t even know why we came here in the FIRST place! Without our Morphin Powers, we’re just a bunch of TEENAGERS!”
Duclea doesn’t let this stand when she tells the team, “you have been relying on your Morphin Powers for so long that you’ve forgotten how to rely on yourselves.”
Putting aside that the Rangers regularly fight unmorphed, this is actually a really great idea. This could have made a fantastic arc to the film that would justify only having one morphed ground fight at the beginning. The Rangers learning they need to be powerful even without their powers could have been a great test of their characters. By undergoing this training they’d realize the value in not just relying on their morphed abilities. This lesson isn’t really stressed throughout the script but it’s still an absolute gem of an idea I wish had been expanded.
Later during a new action scene that replaces the bone dinosaur fight; the team goes up against the Tengu Queen. This fight takes place near a chasm, with the Tengus blocking the team’s path across a tenuous rope bridge. The Rangers get to show off their new skills and even deliver some groan inducing one-liners such as “pheasant dreams!”
In a move directly ripped from the show, the Rangers can only defeat the Tengu by aiming for their beaks. Z Putties, much? Adam gets his moment to be cool when he defeats the Queen Tengu by leaping toward her, looking her dead in the eyes and quips, “polly wanna cracker?” This is how he defeats her, I kid you not.
This fight is the main action set piece for this part of the film. We don’t get the “Guardian” warrior fight outside the temple. While those designs would be missed it at least keeps the Tengu a bigger threat in the film than simply being blown up by Ivan.
The film ends not with a display of fireworks but with perhaps the cheesiest scene in the entire script. The Rangers are in the command center and Alpha holds up a camera and asks them to say cheese. I’ll just quote the description of the rest because it’s perfection.
The kids share amused looks and all together they LEAP INTO THE AIR, PUMPING THEIR FISTS UP VICTORIOUSLY.
WE FREEZE FRAME.
Okay, the writers of this script DO understand Power Rangers.
Was The Script Better Than What We Got?
With all these changes in mind, would the movie have been better if this draft of the script was left intact? Not really.
In isolation some of these changes are fascinating but taken as a whole the script really isn’t that much better than the movie we ended up getting. Yes some of the little additions of lore are fascinating for Power Rangers fans but they don’t add much to the story. The movie still doesn’t have a character arc for any of the Rangers or the rest of the cast for that matter. It’s a generic 90’s adventure movie with the Power Rangers mixed in.
It also suffers from desperately trying to give all the Rangers something to say in every scene they’re in. While I appreciate the sentiment, this leaves large chunks of the script dedicated to giving each Ranger a line of dialogue whether it’s needed or not. That dialogue is also completely interchangeable. No work has been done to try and distinguish how each of the Rangers talk (you could say the show had this issue too). They’re all just generic heroes, except for the odd smart guy line from Billy or heartfelt declaration from Kimberly.
Without that the movie just moves from set piece to set piece, only wringing emotion out of Zordon’s near death which is undercut by his revival before the Megazord climax. The filmmakers made the right call by placing this scene later on.
But if we’d gotten this script as is it’d still maintain its cult classic status. Power Rangers was an absolute juggernaut at that point in entertainment and that alone would earn it a warm place of nostalgia in fans’ minds. Yeah it’s a sloppy movie but who cares when you can watch (or read it) and get that same feeling you had when you saw it for the first time as a kid.
But for real, why does this script hate Rocky so much?