The Ranger suits of the Japanese Sentai series Dairanger are, arguably, the biggest source of rumors and speculation amongst Power Rangers fans. For those not deeply in the know about Power Rangers history, the popular kids franchise is an adaptation of a Japanese series called Super Sentai. Each year Power Rangers takes the footage of the Rangers in suit from Sentai and shoots their own unsuited sequences to create a (mostly) all-new show.
Nowadays it’s a well oiled machine. A Sentai season comes out, an English speaking team of writers and producers create a new season for Power Rangers that incorporates the suits, weapons, and pretty much everything they can use to sell toys. However, when Power Rangers first began it was a very different story. The very first season of the series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, adapted footage from the Sentai season Zyuranger. They used up all the footage they could and, when Power Rangers became a ratings smash hit around the world, they were faced with a problem.
There wasn’t any more Zyuranger footage to use, they had exhausted the fifty episode season. A stopgap measure was put in place wherein they commissioned footage from Toei (the Japanese company behind Super Sentai) of the Zyuranger suits in new battles. However this was only a temporary measure and, as covered in Grnrngr’s comprehensive essay about the creation of this new footage, Saban Entertainment (the creators of Power Rangers) entered into negotiations with Toei to get the rights to adapt the Sentai season after Zyuranger, Dairanger, for the second season of Power Rangers.
However, there was a major issue with this footage. It featured all new Rangers! The Zyuranger suits that had been used for Power Rangers had quickly become icons of the brand and some of the hottest selling toys around. Of course they wouldn’t want to change these suits so instead of adapting the footage as would become the norm, Saban instead only took footage of the Dairanger monsters, zords, and what would become the White Ranger, and shot their own fight footage featuring the Zyuranger suits. The five original Dairanger suits were left on the cutting room floor.
While the Zord transition was more or less smooth and only new cockpit shots were needed, it proved much harder for the Ranger v. monster ground combat. Cutting around the Dairanger suits lead to some tough editing in the early part of the season, with the Power Rangers in their Zyuranger suits often separated in battle from the Dairanger monsters and not able to make direct contact with them.
It thankfully got better later in the season but it still meant a lot of new footage had to be shot. This same style of adaption would continue in the third season of Power Rangers as they adapted the Sentai season Kakuranger but by the time Power Rangers Zeo came out they finally switched over to using the new Sentai suits every year.
This however left the Dairanger suits in limbo. The Kakuranger suits had been used to create the Alien Rangers in season 3 of Power Rangers but the Dairanger suits were left on the cutting room floor. Footage of them from the actual Dairanger season would never see the light of day in Power Rangers.
For years rumors spread throughout Power Rangers fandom of how the suits would have been used. The most well known of these were that they would have been utilized in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy as the “Ancient Rangers” but ultimately went unused because of the season’s production problems including Pink Ranger Valerie Veron being diagnosed with leukemia. You can still find this rumor on forums, fan Wiki’s, and even TV Tropes to this day.
It’s a rumor that, if you’re a Power Rangers fan, you want to be true. A team of Rangers we never got to see? A team that may have predated even the Mighty Morphin Rangers? The idea that the Dairanger suits were so close to making it into Power Rangers and were only stopped because of production issues helps keep the rumor alive. It feels like such a major missed opportunity!
However, after years of this rumor being bandied about, longtime writer and producer Jackie Marchand (who worked on Power Rangers Lost Galaxy) debunked it. She told this writer that, “we were kind of rolling on our own story in Lost Galaxy. There was so much going on in that season that we couldn’t shoe-horn (the Dairanger suits) in.” She also confirmed that Vernon’s illness had nothing to do with the decision.
Marchand further explained that, while the Ancient Rangers rumor was false, they had been trying to use the Dairanger suit footage for years but “we never found a way to fit it in that made sense.” Being able to use the footage would have, as Marchand elaborated, enabled them to do other plotlines they wanted that weren’t reliant on Sentai footage.
“We had this discussion every season because we had purchased it. There’s a lot of great fights and the Zords are great and the costumes are really great. Every year we put it on the back burner.”
By the time of Power Rangers Time Force, eight years after the Dairanger suits had been cut out, Marchand says they weren’t thinking about their inclusion anymore. It makes sense, by that point the Dairanger footage looked older than anything else they had and coming up with a reason for its inclusion would have been harder and harder.
Dairanger wasn’t completely forgotten though. The team’s logo was briefly used as an easter egg in Power Rangers Dino Thunder, seen in the background of Tommy’s office alongside the logos of many other Japanese exclusive Sentai teams.
While the footage from Dairanger itself went unused the suits did finally make an appearance in Power Rangers Super Megaforce, the twenty-first season of Power Rangers. Super Megaforce was adapted from the Sentai anniversary season Gokaiger that featured its Rangers being able to transform into every single past Sentai team, including Dairanger.
In the Super Megaforce episode ‘Earth Fights Back’ the team transforms into the Dairanger suits and they’re only referred to as “new powers” that “have never been seen before on this planet.” A later episode gave the team name as “Legendary Squadron Mode.” This replaced the placeholder name given to the team in casting sides for the season which referred to the Dairanger team as “Star Force.”
Besides the insinuation that these powers are from an alien team of Rangers there wasn’t any other explanation for the suits inclusion. At the time fans were confused at their inclusion but Super Megaforce story editor James W. Bates explained that they simply used the footage that was available.
As much as fans complained about Dairanger’s inclusion in Super Megaforce at the time it may have paved the way for them to be given a more fleshed out part of the Power Rangers universe in the future. Fiveman, another Sentai season whose suits made it into Super Megaforce with little explanation, were given a short story by Trey Moore in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Year Two Deluxe Edition graphic novel. It fleshed out their backstory, gave the team personalities, and even connected them to one of the greatest enemies in Power Rangers. Perhaps in the future the Dairanger suits; aka Legendary Squadron could find a way into the Power Rangers comics as well.
From cutting room floor to longtime fan rumors to slapdash inclusion, the history of the Dairanger suits in Power Rangers has never been one that’s easy to understand. Still, after twenty-five years the suits still hold a special place in the hearts of Power Rangers fans and new information about them is still coming to light. Who knows, maybe we haven’t seen the last of them!