I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid. I had all the toys. Thanks to my Dad, I was always there for opening weekend when one of the movies came out. I watched the cartoon daily. I even know who Ace Duck is.
That’s why I was quite startled to hear that Michael Bay is producing a TMNT reboot. A lot of people on the Internet are upset at one of the changes he’s making to the Turtles’ origin story. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“When you see this movie, kids are going to believe one day these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie,” said Bay as he took the stage to discuss his new vision for the reptilian reboot. “These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.”
Let’s break this disturbing quote down, line by line:
When you see this movie, kids are going to believe one day these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie.
I was 7 when the first TMNT came out. There was no CGI, but it looked good enough. You know what I never once thought, in my stupid little kid head? “How’d they find turtles as big as people? And how’d they get ’em to talk?” The Turtles didn’t look real, and I didn’t care. My enjoyment of a movie has never depended on whether or not I thought it was actually happening. Example: Batman is not a guy in real life. Still dug the movie.
These turtles are from an alien race…
Hold it. Before we get into this, let me say that there are PLENTY of good reasons to change the Turtles’ back story. For one, in real life, radioactive waste doesn’t make animals into wisecracking ninjas. Here’s a sad fact, sports fans: with their exposure to toxic chemicals at a very young age, the Ninja Turtles aren’t making it to 50. So as a fan of the characters, I’m fine with them removing the toxic waste element. No one wants to imagine a middle-aged, liver-spotted Donatello feebly shuffling into the hospital for chemo.
Altering canon does not have to be sacrilegious. If done for the right purposes, changes to long-accepted story conventions can offer a refreshing take on classic characters. Nolan did it with Batman. Raimi did it with Peter Parker. But those were delicate alterations executed with precision, forethought, and care. That isn’t the case here. The Ninja Turtles are now aliens because Michael Bay jerked off to Armaggedon one morning, walked into a room full of writers and yelled, “Let’s make the karate frogs from space!” before going home to chug Red Bull and watch police chases on YouTube.
…and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.
First of all, anyone who describes something they’re doing as “edgy” is, by definition, not edgy. Second of all, who cares if they’re edgy? I love the damn thing, and even I admit that it’s just a stupid cartoon. I don’t need to see Mikey and Raph protesting at OWS. I don’t need to see Leonardo getting his AIDS test. During the late ’80’s, no one looked to TMNT for its subversiveness. This entire quote reeks of insincerity. “Edgy, funny, and loveable.” All phony sounding adjectives with no real substance to them. This comment feels like Bay just now remembered he’s been paid to produce this movie, and he’s struggling to think of something to say. “Ninja Turtles? What the…oh, right, those guys. Yeah, they’re going to be edgy, and funny, and completely loveable…they’re going to do lots of ninja kicks, and do other turtle-y stuff, and uhh, mutant…and at the end of the day, they’ll eat some burgers and fries with their old master, Yoda.”
Listen, I’m a 28 year old man. My years of enjoying the Ninja Turtles for non-nostalgic purposes have been over for almost 20 years now. But there are lots of kids out there who’ve never seen the show, comics, or movies. Who knows how much enjoyment they could get out of the Turtles as they were? The original cartoon and movies weren’t high art, but they were lots of fun, and they had great characters kids could relate to. What kid didn’t like pizza? What kid didn’t like skateboarding? What kid didn’t like fighting robot ninjas employed by a talking brain?That’s what’s so confusing part about this. You don’t really need to change it. You’re going to make millions either way. Now, is there room for improvement? Of course. Any existing property can be improved upon.
But not by THIS guy.
You’re talking about Michael Bay. This man turned one of the worst tragedies in the history of the United States into a three hour Super Bowl commercial. This is man gave us copulating rats. This man gave us a car chase withcorpses thrown out the back of a speeding van. This man thought, “Yeah, the Constructicons are cool and all, but do ya think it would be better if they had a giant nutsack? Yeah you know what, we should go ahead and give them a giant nutsack.”
Go ruin somebody else’s idea, or think up your own. But stay away from Leo, Raph, Donnie, and Mikey.
And if we see the return of Super Shredder, only this time with a giant nutsack, I am heading for the frigging hills.