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Two forces currently dominate the Hollywood landscape: nostalgia and superheroes. With the release of Dean Israelite's Power Rangers later this month, the reboot of the classic 1990s property will capitalize on both of those ideas in grand fashion. Everything that we have seen from the film promises a fantastic return to a beloved universe (albeit with some drastic changes made to the source material), but there's one aspect of the movie that hasn't quite added up just yet: Elizabeth Banks' portrayal of Rita Repulsa.
On that note, we have gone through the details, and it has become increasingly apparent that the "Rita" that we see in this movie might not be Rita at all. In fact, she actually shares many traits with another iconic Power Rangers villain: Scorpina. Let's dive in, go through the evidence, and figure out if this "Rita" is actually another classic villainess in disguise.
Her Character Design Clearly Resembles Scorpina
First and foremost, it's obviously worth pointing out that Elizabeth Banks' Rita Repulsa looks absolutely nothing like the character from the source material. However, her heavily armored appearance bears a striking resemblance to the iconic look of her loyal henchwoman, Scorpina. From the (somewhat revealing) armor plating to the sharp and ornate designs on her armor, the overall character design of Power Rangers' Rita is a dead ringer for Scorpina from the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series. The film has apparently made a ton of notable changes to traditional designs already (Bill Hader's Alpha 5 comes to mind), but the fact that this updated version of "Rita" looks so similar to an existing character from the Power Rangers mythos seems incredibly striking and noteworthy.
The "I've Killed Rangers Before" Quote Lines Up With Scorpina
One of the first things that we learn about Scorpina during her introduction in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is the fact that she has a long history as a warrior, and according to Baboo, she has done "horrible things." The "Rita" from Power Rangers claims to have killed Rangers before, and while it's entirely plausible that Rita has killed Rangers in the past, that's a comment that fits Scorpina's long and violent history as well. This is one of the only pieces of dialogue that we have heard from the upcoming Power Rangers villainess, and for it to apply so perfectly to Scorpina and Rita leads us to believe that the marketing campaign for the film is intentionally vague. Maybe those "horrible things" from the original series involved the murder of the previous Rangers. But maybe not.
Rita Never Got This Involved In The Action
Sure, Power Rangers has clearly made some massive changes to the characters that 1990s kids grew up with, but the sheer amount of involvement this version of Rita Repulsa has with the movie's chaos and carnage doesn't necessarily line up with the evil witch that we have come to know and love. That said, Scorpina is a character who regularly would descend upon Angel Grove with an army of Putty Patrollers, so everything that we have seen from this character so far seems to line up with what we have come to expect from her. It wouldn't be even remotely surprising for the film to end with the genuine Rita looking down through her telescope from her secret base on the moon -- laughing maniacally, of course -- after Scorpina has been vanquished.
Rita Wasn't "Pure Evil" In The Original Series
This is where things get a bit dicier within the Power Rangers mythology. In the trailer for Power Rangers, Elizabeth Banks' character is referred to as "pure evil." However, fans of the Power Rangers TV series know that there's some good in Rita. During the Power Rangers in Space finale, the death of Zordon destroyed all of the evil in the universe, but it "purified" Lord Zedd and Rita into human beings. Then, during the events of Power Rangers Mystic Force, she turned to the side of good and became known as Mystic Mother. The fact that she was not destroyed by Zordon's energy wave seemingly indicates that there's at least some good in her. By contrast, Scorpina was never accounted for after the death of Zordon, which means (because she was "pure evil") she was likely destroyed in the process.
She Has Not Been Called "Rita" Yet In A Trailer
It has become a well-established fact in superhero movies that nothing is confirmed unless we receive definitive confirmation. With that in mind, doesn't it seem odd that the Power Rangers marketing campaign has not referred to Rita as Rita yet? The only real source that tells us that Elizabeth Banks is portraying Rita Repulsa is the film's IMDB page, but that could be intentionally misleading if the movie is building up to a Scorpina reveal. It is entirely plausible that one of the later trailers leading up to the release of the movie could allow someone to utter the name "Rita," but the fact that we have not heard her name yet seems oddly telling and suggests the possibility that the real Rita is waiting somewhere in the wings plotting a new scheme.
We've Come To Expect This Type Of Twist From Superhero Movies
In a broader sense, the Rita Repulsa/Scorpina reveal would not surprise us because we have become so used to this kind of twist over the years -- particularly in superhero movies. From the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 to the reveal of Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, superhero films have continuously kept the "real" villain of the story at an arm's distance while initially sending our heroes up against a henchman or henchwoman. If Elizabeth Banks' "Rita" turns out to be Scorpina (with the real Rita waiting somewhere in the wings) then it will line up with certain well-worn conventions that we have come to anticipate from this genre. The film already appears to be following a very standard "hero's journey" origin story arc, so applying other superhero conventions to it doesn't seem entirely outlandish.