When I was 10 years old, I had no aspirations of being a doctor, lawyer or high-powered executive.
I wanted to be a Power Ranger.
When it debuted on Fox in 1993, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” became an instant pop culture phenomenon with kids flocking to their TVs every weekday afternoon to see the Rangers in action. The series, which repackaged footage from a Japanese show called “Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger,” followed six high school teens (Tommy, Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Zack and Billy) who are chosen to protect the world from alien monsters. When duty calls, the teens “morph” into battle-ready warriors equipped with giant robots called “Megazords.”
Every kid had their favorite Ranger – each assigned a color and animal-themed ’Zord – and my hero was Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, who commanded the mighty Dragonzord.
Played by actor Jason David Frank, Tommy began his morphin’ career as the Green Ranger, but eventually stepped into the boots of the White Tiger Ranger, the Red Zeo Ranger and the Black Dino Ranger as the seasons progressed.
Today, Frank is a mixed martial arts fighter, a frequent comic convention guest and is filming a reality series called “My Morphin Life.” The 40-year-old actor is appearing at this weekend’s Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia, where I caught up with him to chat about the beloved kids’ franchise.
David Onda: What is the question you get asked the most by fans?
Jason David Frank: What was my favorite color [Ranger], probably. I get a lot of MMA questions. But recently, because of the show we’ve been doing, “My Morphin Life,” everyone knows my wife now. The strangest request is, “Where’s your wife? Is she gonna be here? Is she signing autographs?” I’m not used to that.
Onda: What is the strangest type of “Power Rangers” fan you run into?
JDF: I got a lot of guys that support me with tattoos. I had a guy that tattooed a portrait on his foot. They’re pretty hardcore and dedicated. Since I’ve been in the Con world, nothing surprises me. I meet thousands of people a month. I’m happy to have good, loyal fans, to be honest. Most people are like, “Oh, that’s weird, you got a tattoo of his name.” But to me, I feel honored. If they’re gonna take the time to do that, I wanna take the time to give them special attention.
Onda: In the original “Power Rangers” series, a lot of the footage was taken from a Japanese show. How much time did you actually spend in the costume?
JDF: All the other guys probably never put their helmet on. I was the only Ranger in history to put my helmet on and do a fight scene, because I was the one that fought Jason in the Dark Dimension with my helmet on. So, that was pretty cool. But, yeah, the other guys never put their helmet on, always helmets off.
Onda: Were you excited to get a costume upgrade when you did the “Power Rangers” movie in 1995?
JDF: It was exciting, but they were extremely heavy. Super-heavy costumes, man. They can make them now a lot better, a little lighter, but I was excited about it.
Onda: Do people approach you and say they were inspired to go into martial arts because of the “Power Rangers”?
JDF: Oh, yeah. I like it though, because that’s what I do for a living. I definitely hear that a lot.
Onda: The merchandising for “Power Rangers” was insane in its heyday. What was the weirdest product you saw your face on?
JDF: Underwear. Probably the weirdest thing.
Onda: Were you able to keep any memorabilia or props from the set?
JDF: I have some stuff. I have the Dragon Dagger.
Onda: Lionsgate has announced a “Power Rangers” movie reboot. Are you hoping to be involved?
JDF: I’m really pushing for the Green Ranger series right now. I’ve got a great relationship with Saban [Entertainment]. They’re big supporters. They know I’m the face of the franchise, man. I’m the one that’s supporting it, that’s been supporting it for years and years and years. I’ve always supported the brand. I’m just happy and proud to be who I am, man.
Onda: It’s clear, by the number of fans you attract at conventions, that you are still so beloved by “Rangers” fans.
JDF: Because I’m real. I guess I was there when it wasn’t this big, you know what I mean? Your true friends are the guys that are there with you when you’re down and out. So when the show was dropped in ratings, I was still there promoting it and pushing it, and the fans were there. Now they’re just more loyal because I’ve never ran from the franchise and came back. I never said, “Oh, well, there’s an opportunity to make money.” I don’t do this for money. I’ve got my own schools, I’m financially secure. In fact, I don’t charge appearance fees at these things. I’ve never charged for karate classes. My Q&As are free. Sure, I have VIPs they can attend. Sure, there’s pictures you can buy. But that’s not required in my line. You can take photos, videos, do whatever you want, because social media is what’s killing it, and I’ve got tons of social media.
Jason David Frank is appearing at the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center this weekend, June 19-22. Click here for more information.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.