“Forever Black.” That was a phrase repeated during the Power Rangers spotlight panel at this year’s Emerald City Comic-Con, and it’s an appropriate one considering the guests of honor. Johnny Yong Bosch and Walter Jones, who took up the mantle of the Black Ranger in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, discussed their history with the Power Rangers franchise and how, after nearly 30 years, it continues to appeal to a new generation of fans. Jones played the original Black Ranger Zack Taylor while Bosch played his successor Adam Park and later transitioned to the Green Ranger in Power Rangers Zeo and Power Rangers Turbo. Bosch had also previously held an ECCC panel where he screened his directorial debut Ark Exitus.
Both Jones and Bosch discussed their auditions for the series during the panel. Jones said that his training in theater helped with auditions and that he was asked to help develop “Hip-Hop Kido,” the fighting style that Zack uses throughout the series. He also said that he did most of his stunts, though not as much in his Ranger uniform due to the series using stock footage from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. Bosch said that he had only seen a handful of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers episodes prior to his audition and didn’t know he was auditioning for the new Black Ranger until he received a script marked “New Black Ranger.” He thought he was just supposed to read for the part of Adam, but the producers asked him to do a few martial arts moves while he was wearing jeans. Bosch made sure to wear sweatpants for his callback.
They also discussed the Power Rangers films, and Jones revealed that a deal surrounding a Power Rangers film trilogy is what led to his departure from the series. In addition to the initial agreement having a lower payday than expected (not to mention that it was struck during the height of the series’ popularity), the film was also a non-union production. Bosch also discussed working on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie; he revealed that he ad-libbed Adam’s infamous “I’m a frog” line in MMPR: The Movie when the Rangers received their Ninjetti powers. When discussing a similar in-joke for Turbo with longtime Rangers fight coordinator Koichi Sakamoto, since Adam’s Turbo Zord was a minivan, Bosch recalled Sakamoto flat out telling him: “Johnny, you are not funny.” He also was supposed to have more stunt sequences in the MMPR movie until script rewrites transferred those sequences to another cast member.
The floor opened to questions, which ranged from heartwarming to hilarious. Both Jones and Bosch revealed that their favorite season other than MMPR is Time Force due to the more mature storylines it tackled. They also briefly discussed their thoughts on the 2017 Power Rangers movie; Jones said his kids enjoyed it, though he felt that the “teenagers with attitude” aspect was a little too gritty for the franchise. Bosch was a bit blunter as he said he didn’t enjoy the Dinozords’ designs and thought that the film’s take on Kimberly was “a horrible person.” They also talked about their returns to the franchise: Bosch said filming in New Zealand for Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive was different from the original series. Jones said returning for the Power Rangers: Wild Force special “Forever Red” helped him become a better voice actor.
I’ve previously covered Power Rangers-related panels at conventions, but the Forever Black panel was a treat. Both Jones and Bosch have a clear love for the world of Power Rangers, and they definitely appreciate their fans as they thanked us for attending their panel. They also pitched the idea of a “Forever Black” story uniting Zack, Adam, and other Black Rangers across the Power Rangers universe; I’d love for BOOM! Studios to turn it into a miniseries or Hasbro to do an animated special with Jones and Bosch reprising their roles.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.