NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The new Power Rangers movie finally arrives in theaters this weekend and it features Ludi Lin (Black Ranger) — the first Asian superhero in a major film.
The Chinese-born Canadian is one of two Asian actors in the main cast. The mother of Naomi Scott (Pink Ranger) is of Gujarati Indian descent. Scott summed up the theme of the movie in a recent tweet: “Diversity only makes us stronger, so embrace it.”
The movie does indeed boast a diverse cast. Its heroes are a gay woman and an autistic man who speaks of “being on the spectrum.” Of the five, only two are white. It shines a light on how poorly DC and Marvel are doing with featuring superheroes of Asian or Latino descent (they painted Zoe Saldana green!), openly LGBTQ superheroes, or superheroes with ASD or other disorders. Lin said he was a fan of Marvel movies, but it was hard to relate to the Iron Man character-types, and Power Rangers wanted to fix that problem.
The original American made Power Ranger television series from the 1990s had a diverse cast but failed to step away from obvious stereotypes. Their only Asian character played by the late Thuy Trang was the Yellow Ranger. Their only Black character, played by Walter Jones, was the Black Ranger. Jones’ character also became known for breaking out into a hip hop dances during fight sequences and speaking in “urban” vernacular.
In the new movie, Lin has been described as a sex symbol. “I feel that Asian men in film have been really emasculated,” Lin told the Angry Asian Man blog. With recent criticism about the lack of diversity in Hollywood films and “whitewashing” controversies, Lin said “I’m hoping my work in this film can augment that wave [of Asian representation on screen] and push it forward, and give it more momentum.”
Lin shared how his personal life experience helped shape his character in Power Rangers. “I was an outsider a lot of the times, and Zack is that way as well. He’s the only kid that doesn’t really go to school because of [his] family situations too. I didn’t want Zack to relate to the cool kids. That wasn’t my intention. I wanted the other kids — the kids that are being bullied [to see] that the cool kids have that insecurity inside of them too — why they are acting out, why they’re bullying people.”
Lin and his character also share a bicultural background. “In the script, there was never any mention of [Zack] having to speak Mandarin because Zack — he didn’t have to be Asian,” said Lin. “After I was cast, we actually had a conversation with the director, and we intimately discussed how Zack would act around his mom — his family setting. Definitely for me, it felt important that he speak authentic fluent Mandarin with his mother. It was the only way to go about it.”
Lin told Teen.com, “As a Chinese person, as an Asian person, I grew up watching a lot of American films and they’re just, Americans are always saving the world. We can do it too, man!”
When a fan asked if Zack can help pave the way for more Asian superheroes, Lin tweeted, “All Asians can pave the way! Let’s all speak out represent ourselves and be Heroes!”
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