I did not want to admit it as a kid because I was not comfortable at the time thinking about my sexuality, but I had a huge crush on Billy Cranston aka the Blue Power Ranger from the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger series. I related to his character so much more than all of the other characters. He started out very similar to how I felt in real life. I was the dorky clumsy kid with glasses that was anything but a superhero. What is funny is that I did not even contemplate or think that the actor that played Billy, David Yost, was in fact gay himself. That revelation came years later after I had become an adult and made me fall all over the character again. That completely solidified my love for the character.
When Billy first appears in the show, he was more close to being the helpless victim because he could not fight and he was no where near the levels of accuracy that his team members possessed. The late Trini played by Truy Trang, (sadly passed on in 2001 from a car accident) and Jason, played by Austin St. John (who is not a porn actor, despite what you might hear) were the two fighters while Kimberly, Amy Jo Johnson and Zack, Walter Jones, both had more an acrobatic background with dance and ballet. Poor Billy was the only one that had limited martial arts training and was shown to only be able to fight when he morphed into the Blue Ranger.
Luckily, that changed drastically! He started to take his training seriously. There was even an episode that directly references this and he graduates to yellow belt. Although his real world experience of fighting and taking on super monsters regularly proved that he was gaining much more experience than simple classes could provide. Also being that he was the smartest of the rangers at the time, he was able to help fix things at the command center with Alpha 5 at a level that was far beyond any of the other rangers.
One of my favorite moments in the show is when Billy takes on Goldar in a direct fight and NOT morph. Up to this point in the series, he has only fought Goldar in a group or morphed as the Blue Ranger. So to see him evolve from originally barely escaping from a mere Putty attack to the point of taking on one of the big bad’s of Rita/Zed’s army general was a huge confidence boost for me. It was very minor and all of the rangers at some point took on Goldar in some fashion but it was a big deal. It showed that the nerdy kid who was previously dismissed as the weakling of the group, could actually be THE hero. Billy had stand alone episodes here and there during the course of his run as a ranger, but this one stood out the most to me.
It is arguably valid that Billy evolved more than any other ranger. Tommy was given upgrades with his Green to White Ranger and later Red Ranger status. Trini, Zack, and Jason all left mysteriously (the actors had issues with contracts and pay) to become student ambassadors. Their replacements – Aisha, Rocky and Adam were great in their own respects and I liked them more than I did their counterparts but they also seemed to already be badass fighters after just a few episodes.
It is unfortunate that David Yost was bullied behind the scenes and felt uncomfortable on set because of his sexuality. Billy was the last of the original 5 Power Rangers to leave the series. He held on for all of the Mighty Morphin Series and most of the Zeo Ranger series. I hated seeing him de-powered and it hurt to see that he was reduced back to being a helpless victim during the Zeo run. I was one of those that imagined he did take up the Gold Ranger mantle as he should have.
Regardless of everything, Billy was and still is my favorite of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I like him so much that I have two costumes of the Blue Ranger. One of him in his Morphed blue version and one as a slutty underwear version that I made as a joke for superhero costume party at convention last year (see above pic). I am excited about the new upcoming movie and the casting seems pretty cool. I am hoping beyond hope that RJ Cyler remains true to the character and is nerd like in the original series. This is a complete reboot so anything can happen.
I got to meet David Yost briefly at a con a year ago but unfortunately it was during his off time and I could not get a picture with him. That will change and I will get a picture with him at the next con that we both attend. He is a really awesome guy. Anyways, did you watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as a kid? Who was your favorite character?