While the world was busy being inspired by Zordon and his pets, the Power Rangers, they nearly forgot about a powerful personality on the villain's side of the ring who had initially beaten Zordon and his first batch of Rangers. Why do you think Mr. Z is a mere shell of himself, a head trapped in a fancy digit-tube? Rita Repulsa was his undoing, and the grave mistress of power has proven that she will not be pushed aside without pushing back in turn.
This brings us to our top-18 list of Repulsa trivia, shockers, omg-facts, and a little extra on the side. Granted, only a handful of the following points can truly be termed ‘disturbing’, but hey, even evil queens need a break from tradition. Villains have often been shrouded in mystery, and their origins and purposes for being seem to be underestimated rather than appreciated. Quiver ye mortals, for we are about to take a look at Rita’s repulsive side. This is in reference to the yesteryear show, the old Power Rangers movie, and the blockbuster 2017 version. That said, let’s begin on a ‘light’ note.
18 The Many Faces Of Repulsion
Whether or not these actresses were trapped inside a space dumpster for a millennium, the character of Rita Repulsa has seen its fair share of roleplayers. We’ll come to the Witch Bandora connection a little later. Just know that the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers footage was originally taken from Zyuranger (a Japanese series). Season 2 of the show saw Carla Perez slipping into the evil queen’s shoes until Julia Cortez was cast as Repulsa in the movie. A major portion of Rita’s voice was dubbed by Barbara Goodson. This changed with Power Rangers Mystic Force where Susan Brady was the voice and Machiko Soga returned to playing the screechy-scary Repulsa. The most varied portrayal of Rita came via Elizabeth Banks in the Power Rangers 2017 movie.
17 An Unexpected Transformation
‘Countdown to Destruction’ was a two-part episode in Power Rangers in Space, where Zordon’s self-sacrifice released a wave of good energy that purified several villains. Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa were made mortal; humans, to be precise. Strangely enough, the couple started dancing together out of joy (the wave must have seriously messed with their heads). Lord Zedd (as the video game Power Rangers: Super Legends reveals) went on to become an archaeologist, uncovers the Time Crystal, goes back in time and reverts to his super-villain self, Rita seems to have taken a different route. More on this in just a bit. Oh, how we love pulling the legs of our readers. Don't worry, we won't leave you hanging!
16 Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You
In another instance of ‘famous people almost undiscovered,’ we have the original Rita Repulsa’s voiceover artist Barbara Goodson who was fired for not conforming to a Wicked Witch of the West ‘sound’. She kept at it, much like the real Repulsa who’d never take no for an answer. In one of her callbacks, Barbara was so angry and frustrated with her turn of ill-luck, or so it seems, that her voiceover accidentally (diabolical chance, perhaps?) sounded harsh, cackling, witchy, and by all means sinister. Thus the voice for Rita Repulsa was found...again. I guess all it took was a little added motivation for Goodson to be able to get into character. Sometimes being angry and cackling can work in your favor!
15 Family Values
Rita’s the first villain to display family connections on the same show. Her character’s brother and father are both bad guys as well (talk about the ‘Baddy Bunch’). Rito Revolto is her brother who, unlike his intimidating Sentai version, is portrayed as a rather moronic personality who came on the scene after villainess Scorpina was defeated. He went on to partner up with his sister and Goldar. The differences in surname have been duly noted; that page has not been found, though. Anyway, the fact that he beat the Thunderzords redeemed his competence in fans’ eyes.
Next, we have Rita’s dad, Master Vile, who’s worse than both his kids combined. His résumé says it all: M51 Galaxy conqueror (ruled for thousands of years), masterful Ranger-Zord, Zeo Crystal capturer, and ace Armageddon party-planner. He holds the record of being the first villain-parent character on the show. The Rangers kicked his a** though, huzzah!
14 A Mystifying Role-Change
We said we’d reveal what became of Rita Repulsa after she was subjected to Zordon’s sacrificial goody-goody energy wave. Here we go! In the ‘Mystic Fate’ two-part finale episode in Power Rangers Mystic Force, we find our frightfully frustrating Repulsa all in white, leading the Mystic Ones, and playing the role of Empress of Good Magic. She has actually involved herself in Ranger welfare by offering inspiration before their final battle with Octomus, granting Clare sorceress abilities, and surviving an attack from Octomus himself; almost Zen-master style. I guess she really did have some good hidden deep down inside of her. It's nice to see she didn't revert back to the same nagging villain we once knew!
13 A Short But Bold Statement
The fan-film short Power/Rangers won quite a dark reputation. The short film (director and co-writer Joseph Kahn, writers James Van Der Beek and Dutch Southern, and producers Adi Shankar and Jil Hardin) portrays the world after the Machine Empire beats the Power Rangers. Copyright issues aside, the makers came up with a ‘legit’ version that went live on Vimeo and most recently YouTube (20 million views and counting). The film, while having gained positive reviews even from the original cast members, did not star any of them (except Carla Perez who played Rita Repulsa). We understand that it can be a touchy subject when it comes to fan-made films and the protection of intellectual property, but when something comes along that's as good as this, the studio should help promote it!
12 Go Green
Fan theories offer a world’s worth of ideas for potential sequels or spin-offs. There are some interesting opinions out there, one among which is the ‘belief’ that Elizabeth Banks’ image and costume (in the 2017 Power Rangers movie) are hints that she could probably have been the Green Ranger in the past.
As Reddit users go, TheAtomBomb is one avid fan indeed. Their remark of Banks’ costume looking like a battle-worn Green Ranger outfit made all the sense in the world. The actress is even on record stating that Repulsa and the Rangers have a backstory link. Knowing that she defeated Zordon and his first batch of Rangers, it’s not far-fetched to guess that Rita might have been part of the A-Team before power went to her head?
11 Tommy & The Brain
The Power Rangers have their own comic books (published by Boom! Studios, and the longest-running series in the Rangers’ comics franchise). Remember Tommy and Billy? Their illustrated versions travel to a parallel universe in edition #12. In the follow-up edition, Tommy joined forces with Rita Repulsa and took over the Earth (!). It wasn’t contractual per se, more like Repulsa brain-washing Tommy into serving her cause. But why was he still doing her bidding even after escaping her mind-control? He thus became a Drakkon (his look is brilliant, though, a combination of White and Green Ranger). Thank goodness this was just part of the comic series. Although, we wouldn't mind seeing an episode where the Rangers have to battle a mind-controlled former ally!
10 ...To Have And To Repulse
Several fans who have seen these two share screen-space probably went, ‘Boy, they fight like a married couple.’ This is not far from the truth because Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa are indeed bonded in unholy matrimony. Aptly enough in the three-part ‘Wedding’ episode, Rita gives Zedd a love potion and he falls for her – her scheme being to own the Moon Palace. As they watch the Rangers tear their minions apart, the couple aggressively hems and haws; their characteristic sketch in the show. Whether or not Zedd enjoyed any of this is unclear, but he has remained married to Repulsa (they make quite the comic pair). Must have been some love potion. Hey, even villains need love too (arguably more than anyone else, since they're villains for a reason!)
9 ...And Then This Happened
We just covered Zedd and Repulsa’s wedding woes, but did you know that they both had a son together? Enter, Thrax, who, er, entered in the two-part ‘Once A Ranger’ episode (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive). He seems to have embraced his dark side because the good natures of his parents (long story) make him want to do evil things. It’s nice to see that the character artists got some familiarity going for Thrax (uncle Rito Revolto’s jaw, mom’s (her dress, rather) horn ornament, a Z-Staff like dad).
He seems to have inherited his mother’s ill-luck because Thrax too was imprisoned in a space dumpster. There’s an ongoing debate concerning his timeline. Some say he was conceived around the time of Power Rangers Zeo and others say that he was born around Power Rangers Turbo. From time travel to age-acceleration, Thrax seems like he might have a captivating villain backstory of his own.
8 Sheer Power
Fans have seen her be funny, they’ve seen her be strange, they’ve seen her be petty, and oh my lawd, she sounds like she has space-mange. But Rita Repulsa is one thing beyond any doubt, and that’s powerful. Zordon even communicates with the new Rangers the way he does because she trapped him in a time-warp, and the only way he could find the new Rangers was by projecting his image through an energy tube. In fact, she defeated not just Zordon but the first Power Rangers team as well.
Rita has been going head-to-head with Mr. Z for millennia, and killed several of his prize warriors (looks like we know who Thor’s Hela might call over for martinis and a hand of Poker). Even the first-among-firsts Sentai footage has her beating the Rangers black and blue; and red, pink, and yellow too. In a ‘truce’ meeting to discuss the future of the universe, Rita and Zordon came to a mutual understanding (wait, they decided to coin toss to determine the fate of mortal realms). Mr. Z used power coins (in other words, he cheated) and promptly imprisoned Rita and her minions in a space dumpster.
7 Arigatōgozaimashita To Inspiration
Remember that 'Witch Bandora' connection that we promised to expand upon earlier? Here we go! The first Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers show (which many loved and others hated) cast Machiko Soga as the diabolical Rita Repulsa (Barbara Woodson dubbed for her in English). Zyuranger was the Japanese show that got the Morphin’ train rolling, and in that show, Rita was given the charming moniker ‘Witch Bandora’. It’s interesting how art can sometimes imitate other art. To think that we might never have had a Repulsa without Zyuranger. Arigato, indeed. Although, maybe it would have been better to drawn inspiration for her trademark voice from something other than a wailing banshee! Ouch, our ears.
6 Mirror, Mirror, On Repulsa’s Wall...
Elizabeth Banks (renowned for her roles in The Hunger Games and The Lego Movie) received profound approval ratings when it was revealed that she would be playing the iconic Rita Repulsa in the 2017 Power Rangers film. We’ll cover a related racial incident in a bit, but for now, we’d like to share some filmy gossip about Banks. Her costume seems to have received a mega-makeover, but the staff seems rather familiar.
Also, in a statement to People, she said, “It’s definitely a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita Repulsa... We wanted to give her a backstory that connects her to the new Rangers.” This certainly made fans go gaga over what that backstory entails. What’s really disturbing is that we have Hunger Games’ Effie Trinket literally living her own popular phrase ‘May the odds be ever in your favor’. Watch out, Rangers, this one comes prepared.
This point goes a little past disturbing, in fact, it borders on icky. It’s nearly 2018, meaning the latest Power Rangers blockbuster has come and gone, leaving fans wondering all sorts of things as they try and fill in the gaps that their earlier theories created. How is Rita Repulsa making all that gold to build, um, Goldar? She’s eating the gold, check. She’s made enough to create a gigantic villain-tank (that's MMO-spiel for bulky metal-plated taunter). Three guesses as to what might plausibly have happened in the interim phase. Power Coins that have seen better days aside, the movie has made it quite clear that said doubloons needed to be digested. Now there’s a repulsive image if ever there was one. It's probably why Goldar looks so 'melty.' don't frown, you were warned.
4 The Voice Behind The Face
Julia Cortez, the old Rita (no offense intended), might look like she has dubbed for herself in the Power Rangers 1995 hit, but the real voice behind Rita’s character came from someone else. Barbara Goodson has brought her voice-talent to bear on some of the most memorable characters in animation.
One of Saban Entertainment’s celebrated members, Barbara has voiced Kunba from Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann, Chiyo from Naruto Shippuden, Mandilok in Power Rangers Wild Force, and Mother Talzin / Nightsister in Star Wars: Clone Wars (2011-2014). When auditioning for the yesteryear Repulsa role, her voice was considered ‘not scary enough’; according to ScreenRant. She went back to try again, frustrated as performers get, and her annoyed voice got the part. One could say she was 'repulsed' at having to come in for round two.
3 The Killer Backstory
Villains are often defined by their origins. It’s who they were, and what they did then, that makes fans admire or fear them in later story renditions that involve them on a big scale. With Rita Repulsa, fans have a truly frightening backstory to keep them awake all night. Case in point, the mistress of evil has been trapped for nearly 10,000 years and doesn’t think twice when it comes time to try and take over the world. The Sentai (original Japanese show) version adds more spice to the story. There, Rita’s counterpart (‘Witch Bandora’) was locked away for 170 million years (breathe, breathe).
Dinosaurs and people lived in relative harmony when Bandora’s son Kai went on a T-Rex egg-smashing spree and was killed by way of punishment. So angry was she that Bandora dealt with Satan himself to help her forget what happened.
2 Where Are They Now?
Machiko Soga spearheaded the Rita Repulsa roleplay train with her portrayal of the infamous villain in the Power Ranger shows, especially the Japanese actress’s original Sentai footage of the same. We have not heard from her after 2006 when she did The Space Sheriff Spirits (PS2 title). She died at 68 of pancreatic cancer (we love you Soga, and we miss you). A posthumous commemoration happened on Power Rangers Mystic Force where they remade Soga’s image as the Mystic Mother. Sadly, they didn’t credit her for it.
Barbara Goodson, long-time voice-talent for Repulsa, found work in Digimon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Disgaea. The popular performance of Julia Cortez in the 1995 movie ended there. She’s only ever done The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) after that. Carla Perez, though, is going up the ladder. She’s been cast in 2017’s False Affairs drama and in two sci-fi Nostradamus Mission movies (slated for release in 2018 and 2019).
1 Color Blind
While the voice talents behind the previous Ritas were white, the actors themselves were multi-national. Carla Perez, Hispanic. Julia Cortez, Filipina-Australian. And Machiko Soga, Japanese. It’s strange, the Rangers themselves are ethnically diverse so why not let Repulsa be? The filmmakers still decided to branch away from tradition concerning this prominent ‘bad-guy’. Elizabeth Banks’ performance, however, is golden; pun intended. We actually like the direction that Banks took the character, from a visual and acting standpoint. It's not what we're used to, but it worked well for the blockbuster adaptation. To be fair, she could make any freakish Space Witch look good (and she totally does in the 2017 film).