Ever since we heard that Michael Bay would be leading the charge in bringing back our favorite childhood “heroes in a half shell”, the Internet collectively groaned. Then we heard he was changing them from mutants to aliens and the rage was palpable. But before you bring your pitchforks and torches to Bay’s doorstep, know this: it’s going to suck, here’s some reasons why it may not that hard.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III set the bar incredibly low
There is one thing that most Turtles fans can agree on: the third movie was a steaming pile of cowadunga. With a poorly contrived time traveling to feudal Japan plot and not one, but TWO characters based around Brooklyn douche-nozzle Casey Jones, the movie was doomed from the start. Not only that, but the turtles themselves became the stuff of nightmares. Look at this shot from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Now compare it to the turtles in the third movie.
This is what happens when you drop Jim Henson’s Creature Shop from your character design department; you get Gary Busey with a skin condition.
‘Ninja Turtles’ isn’t exactly Shakespeare
Sure, I just ripped on the third movie, but the truth is I find it a guilty pleasure. Plus, it’s not like the rest of the movies were exactly works of art. Even the first movie, which is often considered the most loyal to it’s comic book counterpart, wasn’t exactly a critical darling. An hour and a half of one-liners, pizza addiction, and Corey Feldman might be fine to the kids who grew up with the Turtles, but to an older audience it became grating.
The turtles you remember haven’t aged well
The Turtles you know and love are deeply seated in the late 80s/early 90s, and thus their lingo, while cool during the times, just sounds awkward and cheesy today. There is nothing wrong with a little nostalgia, but trying to recreate it is severely limiting the intended audience (namely the parents dragging their kids along. This also works in reverse, as if they try to tack on modern lingo and pop culture in with the old. If you try to draw in the older audience with promises of “xtreme bodacious pizza”, then follow it up with a little “All the single ladies” dance number, you’re going to piss off both sides of your audience. As an audience, we know what we like, but dammit are we fickle about it.
Aliens are pretty low on the absurdity chart.
Are you seriously going to get all flustered over the fact that Michael Bay is going to drop the “mutant” factor of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Please, the series has seen much, much worse disservice. Take for example the cover art I’ve provided to the right, which comes from Volume 3 of the comic book series. Notice anything odd about it? If you said “everything”, go ahead and claim your prize. While Michelangelo is, for the most part, unharmed in this series, the rest of the turtles where not as lucky. Donatello is now a cyborg (he was paralyzed from falling out of a helicopter shell-first), Leonardo had his hand bitten off by a lizard, and Raphael is deeply scarred and running the Foot Clan. Oh, and don’t even think their master walks away unscathed; Splinter gets even more mutated and turns into a giant bat. Yes, you heard me right: a giant bat. Allegedly, the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peter Laird, was so dissatisfied with what Volume 3 did to his franchise that he wrote it out of continuity with Volume 4.
So remember, the next time you feel the sense of enragement by the fact that Michael “Splosion Man” Bay has taken over your precious Ninja Turtles, keep this in mind: there is nothing he can do to harm the franchise that the franchise hasn’t already done worse to itself.