Shirley Li
March 27, 2017 AT 01:39 PM EDT

Love was in the air for a pair of Power Rangers — until test audiences said no.

In a scene from the Power Rangers big-screen reboot that wound up on the cutting room floor, Kimberly the Pink Ranger (Naomi Scott) kisses Jason the Red Ranger (Dacre Montgomery) after sneaking into his bedroom to talk and confess why she wound up in detention. The smooch made it into trailers including this one, around the 1:29 mark:

At test screenings, however, audiences liked the moment about as much as Zordon liked Rita Repulsa, director Dean Israelite tells EW, which is why it was ultimately excised from the final cut. “Nobody liked the kiss,” he says of viewer reactions early on. “It’s one of those rare times in a preview when something is so unanimous.”

But the audience didn’t react negatively to the kiss simply because it was a kiss; instead, fans pointed out that having the pair lock lips distracted from the intention of the scene itself, which up until then was showing Kimberly’s growth as a character from a mean girl to a Power Ranger. Israelite says he agreed, noting that the transition from an intense conversation to a romantic spark shifted the story from being about Kimberly supporting herself to being about Kimberly supporting Jason.

Kimberley French

“For that scene to culminate in some kind of romantic moment between her and Jason undermines her character and feels a little old-fashioned and becomes a movie trope of the female lead there to support some kind of male arc,” he explains. “I think it was actually kind of lovely that the audience pushed so hard against that, and the moment we took it out, everybody liked Kimberly way more and felt she was much stronger, and I loved that we got that reaction.”

“I loved that we did it,” he adds, “because my intention was never to have a female character try and be there for the male’s arc. It was always that she needed to stand independent of him.” And besides, with more films likely to come in the franchise (especially after its better-than-expected box office over opening weekend), there will be plenty more opportunities for Ranger romance.

Power Rangers is now in theaters.

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