When you think of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, you undoubtedly imagine the five heroes – and their nemesis: the great space witch herself, Rita Repulsa. Throughout the show’s first season, she was the main adversary and then played a major role in future seasons until her purification. She might not be around on the TV show much anymore, but she still remains a fundamental and significant part of the franchise’s folklore and made a recent appearance in 2017’s Power Rangers.
Speaking about her role as Rita in Dean Israelite’s film, Elizabeth Banks told Syfy Wire, “She’s very unpredictable. She feels very dangerous, but it’s all about this unpredictability and wry sense of humor.” That pretty much sums up the character’s modus operandi in a nutshell. Still, there’s so much that we don’t know about her – and that’s why we’re here to change this. We’ve dug around and sniffed out some of the most intriguing things about the Rangers’ foe. This isn’t only limited to one version of the character, though, and we’ve included a whole lot of trivia from the different iterations of Rita. So join us as we delve deep into the dark secrets of this evil witch. Let’s hope you won’t have a headache afterwards.
When Machiko Soga was cast as Witch Bandora in Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, she couldn’t have imagined the influence that this role would have on popular culture as a whole. The episodes of Zyuranger were sliced and diced and utilized for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, including Soga’s character who became the Rangers’ evil, dumpster-diving nemesis Rita Repulsa.
Barbara Goodson provided the voice of Rita in the U.S. version of the series, while the visuals were of Soga. In a strange turn of events, however, Power Rangers was broadcast in Japan after it was a smash-hit in America, and Soga found herself having to redub her lines for the Japanese version of the show. Sadly, Soga passed away in May 2006 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
14. THE WITCHING HOUR
As we all know by now, Power Rangers wasn’t a unique concept. It was a bit of this and a bit of that, and we ate it up like our mom’s lazy Sunday stew. Considering how the producers ripped off Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, they went all in and took the show’s evil antagonist, Witch Bandora, as well, turning her into Rita Repulsa.
Bandora’s history, though, is a little different from Rita’s. She was originally Queen of the Dall Tribe and went mad when her son Kai was killed by a Tyrannosaurus for smashing its eggs. Wanting revenge and consumed by grief, she sold her soul to Dai-Satan for magical powers, which also resulted in her losing all memory of Kai, to eliminate all dinosaurs. In other words, this is probably the plot for Jurassic World 3.
13. ENTER THE DRAGON
Throughout her appearances on Power Rangers, we found out a lot about Rita Repulsa’s past via anecdotes. While they were mostly done for comedic relief and turned out to be completely wacky, there were a few memorable stories. One of the best was about her fire-breathing dragon pet, which was given to her by her younger brother, Rito Revolto.
As the tale goes, Rita wanted a planet to take over, but Rito decided to give her a pet dragon instead – we’ll refer to this dragon as Puffy from here on out. Upset by this gift, which wasn’t a planet, Rita used Puffy to attack her brother and burn down their parents’ house. No one knows what happened to Puffy, but maybe this is the reason she’s such a fan of the Dragonzord.
12. FIRED AND RE-HIRED
Show business doesn’t work like regular business. Weird and irrational decisions are made on a daily basis, hence all those stupid seasons of Two and a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher. Power Rangers wasn’t immune to strange choices, either, as voice actress Barbara Goodson was fired and then re-hired as the voice of Rita Repulsa.
During her audition, Goodson was asked to do a Wicked Witch of the West impression for Rita. The studio wasn’t impressed and told her to pack her bags. Goodson didn’t give up, though, and pleaded for another shot at the role, which she finally received. Speaking to Complex, she said, “I was pissed off. I came up with that [recognized Rita] voice out of being annoyed, and it lasted for five years.” Go figure.
11. RITA AND LORD ZEDD’S SON
When a man and woman love each other, they develop feelings. These feelings usually manifest into more physical explorations… Oh, wait, this is the internet, so you don’t need an explanation of how babies are born. Right. Well, even though Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd fought like Al and Peggy Bundy, behind closed doors they let the love flow. The result of their union is their bouncing, baby boy known as Thrax.
Thrax appeared in the two-part episode of “Once a Ranger” (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive). If you thought his father was a looker, then you would’ve fallen in love with Thrax’s rotting teeth and his Freddy Krueger-like steel gaze. Proving he’s a chip off the old block, he strived to be the vilest creature he could be. How sweet.
Most Power Rangers fans are well aware of the 2015 fan film Power/Rangers. Produced by Jil Hardin and Adi Shankar, and directed by Joseph Kahn, it was a dark and violent 14-minute film that explored a different, R-rated side of the mythos. Most of the original Power Rangers cast members weren’t too happy about it, criticizing the short film for straying from the original product that was meant for children.
While the film did feature the big-name talents of James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff, it only had one cast member from the Power Rangers franchise: Carla Perez, who portrayed Rita Repulsa. It was a nice nod and tip of the hat to the source material, and showed that not all former cast members were bitter about the R-rated reimagining of the Power Rangers.
9. IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY
Psychologists have long argued the nature vs. nurture debate. Are people born evil or do they learn these mannerisms from their upbringing? Well, in the case of Rita Repulsa (and to quote Korn): “it’s all in the family.” They proved that dastardly deeds were dirt-cheap when you’ve got your family to back and support you.
While her mother’s identity was unknown, her father, Master Vile (what the name!), was a warlock and warlord, who conquered many worlds and was feared by all. Her brother, Rito Revolto, was also raised to dabble in nefariousness and practice dark magic. Then, the cherry on the cake was, she married Lord Zedd – another pristine example and hunk of an evil man. It was a true dynasty of chaos and anarchy.
8. SHE HATES DIVATOX
There’s a belief that all villains have cordial relationships and share common goals, such as killing the heroes. Much like politics, though, everyone is out for themselves and alliances are only formed if they further individual interests. In the case of Rita Repulsa and Divatox, there’s no love lost there.
You see, most villains want to defeat the heroes themselves. There’s a certain pride in being the one to annihilate your greatest foes, and you don’t want to see anyone else doing it. Additionally, there’s probably a bit of jealousy as Divatox was the main antagonist for Power Rangers: Turbo and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. But hey, Rita surely got a kick out of Divatox calling her and asking for advice on how to defeat the Power Rangers.
7. THE LIMELIGHT IS ALL HERS
Even though Rita Repulsa played a major role in the Power Rangers TV show, she never really had the full limelight in the live-action films until 2017’s Power Rangers. In 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, the main bad guy was Apocalypse Ivan Ooze. While in 1997’s Turbo: A Power Ranger’s Movie, the primary antagonist was Divatox.
Fortunately, Dean Israelite’s Power Rangers allowed Rita, as portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, all the major screen time and even bumped her up from a bumbling madwoman to a legitimately powerful villain. Due to the film’s gross underperformance at the box office, though, it remains to be seen whether we’ll get another chance to see Rita in a live-action film in the near future. Truth be told, it doesn’t seem all that likely right now.
6. THE GREEN RANGER?
2017’s Power Rangers took several liberties as it tried to reimagine the mighty morphin’ heroes for a new generation. While it worked for the most part, there were a few controversial tweaks to the origin story – namely in the handling of Rita Repulsa. Right off the bat, it implied that Rita and Zordon worked together as Rangers centuries ago.
What’s even more shocking is that she was heralded as the Green Ranger in this origin story, hence all the green in her outfit. At the same time, the costume designers for the film decided to adjust her outfit to include elements of Scorpina. Longtime fans will instantly recognize Scorpina as one of Rita’s most faithful aides (aside from Goldar), so this was a bit unusual to see her combined in Rita’s updated look.
5. MAX LANDIS’ VERSION OF RITA
Screenwriter Max Landis loves to talk trash on the internet and tell people how movies should be made; however, he’s been rather quiet since those damning accusations against him. Nonetheless, it should come as no surprise that he took a stab at the Power Rangers and wrote a script for a potential reboot film years back.
As expected, his take would’ve been weird – and one of the most controversial points was his handling of Rita Repulsa, who would’ve turned into a major talking point among fans. Artist Matt Frank revealed his wild take of Rita that was used for Landis’ 2013 treatment on his Facebook page. It does feature the classic Rita costume from the show, but it’s far from the Rita we all know and love. In fact, she would’ve been extremely alien-looking.
4. SHE TURNED OVER A NEW LEAF
After Rita was purified in Power Rangers in Space, we didn’t see her again until Power Rangers Mystic Force. It’s revealed that Rita regained her magical powers in that period; however, this time, she was using them for good. No longer was she known as Rita Repulsa, but as the Mystic Mother, the Empress of Good Magic and leader of the Mystic Ones.
Additionally, she donned a new white outfit and gave her eternal enemies, the Power Rangers, some encouraging words before their final battle against Octomus. It was a complete 180 of her original character, but this version of Rita might be even more powerful than when she was evil. Thankfully, she’s using her powers for good, so the Rangers have nothing to worry about… for now.
3. HER HISTORY WITH ALPHA
In the TV series and films, Rita Repulsa and Alpha don’t really interact besides being on opposite sides of the battlefield (oh, and the time that her goons reprogrammed poor Alpha to betray the Rangers). Still, their only gripe with one another is work-related – and so, under different circumstances, they might actually get along and enjoy a stiff drink together.
In the Boom! Studios comics, a lot of history has been explored and continues to unravel. It’s hinted that there’s a relationship between Rita and Alpha as she mentions to him that he could’ve been better off serving her instead of Zordon. Hopefully, one day, we’ll receive an Alpha prequel series where this and all other questions about our favorite robotic assistant can be answered.
2. SHE’S A WEAK SPELLCASTER
While Rita Repulsa might be constantly cited as the quintessential Power Rangers villain, she’s far from the most powerful of the lot. In fact, her brand of magic might be one of the weakest in the series. Shame. Maybe it was all those headaches that caused her such distress and weakened her spells.
Jokes aside, Rita’s spells weren’t all that impressive considering since she had to rely on Finster and his Monster-Matic to conjure up monsters and putties for her. On the other hand, her husband, Lord Zedd, and father, Master Vile, were seen creating their own monsters without any hassle. Perhaps it was all the evil inside her that prevented her from reaching her full potential, since she certainly appeared more powerful as Mystic Mother.
1. THE ASIAN INFLUENCE
The first live-action version of Rita Repulsa was portrayed by Japanese actress Machiko Soga. Thereafter, she was played by Filipino actress Carla Perez and Australian Julia Cortez. What’s interesting to note is that the producers wanted “Asian-looking” actresses to portray Rita, but they always had non-Asian actresses doing the dubbing.
It begs the question: if you want an Asian-looking actress for the part, why don’t you want the voice as well? Rita’s appearances always came off as a bit off and strange because of the mismatched audio that made it look like a really badly dubbed martial arts film. So, what was the solution for 2017’s Power Rangers? Just forget about the Asian influence altogether and cast a U.S. actress in the role instead. Um, okay…
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