When talking about the upcoming live action version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie his Platinum Dunes production company is helming, fan favorite and media whipping boy Michael Bay wandered into a non-controversy that is apparently still news.
Fans of TMNT and Bay-haters alike got all up in a tizzy after the Transformers director made a statement about the film and casually dropped the info that the turtles will actually be aliens, not mutants. I’m surprised you didn’t feel the earthquake that happened shortly thereafter, because the world is ending.
Before I tell you why this does not matter in the slightest, let’s see what Bay said:
“These turtles are from an alien race, and they’re going to be tough, edgy, funny, and completely lovable. Kids will believe one day that these turtles do exist when we’re done with this movie.”
OH SNAP. I think I just caused a mega-volcano eruption just by reprinting that. Hold the presses. Or not.
People are apparently very upset about this, with absolutely no good reason. There seems to be some idea that being mutants is central to the Turtles story, as presented by even our own Cole Abaius here. Elsewhere around the web, people were so upset they busted out all of their Bay jokes, teasing that he’ll be remaking The Care Bears Movie next, but that they’ll be walruses or something. Tee-hee, except not relevant in the slightest.
Mutation is essential to the story of say, The X-Men, or anyone in the Marvel Universe. It is not essential to the Turtles. For these ninja
amphibians reptiles, mutation was merely a way to create giant ninja turtles and it provided for some mystery and a few storylines.
These storylines were basically when the Turtles went searching for answers to their existence, eventually infiltrating the Techno Cosmic Research Institute, or TCRI, the company responsible for the ooze that transformed four turtles and a rat into a team of ass kickers. You might be thinking “Hey, that sounds pretty important.” But here’s the rub: TCRI is actually a building full of aliens in the first place. Further, most of the stories that you remember don’t have anything to do with TCRI.
The Turtles live on the outskirts of civilization and sure, they wish they could integrate with regular humans, but here is the big difference between them and the X-Men: they were turtles to begin with. They never, not in a million years, would have had an opportunity to live a normal human life. Any Mutant in the Marvel Universe had that. They could have grown up normal, gone to school, had girlfriends, all of that stuff, except a mutation happened. Because of that mutation, they can never live a normal life and are forever outcasts.
Without their mutations, the turtles would have died in the sewer after a few years, or possibly been killed and eaten by Rat-Splinter and his Rat buddies long before they learned ninjitsu.
Further, aliens have a long history in the TMNT universe. There is the alien Krang, a seminal villain, and his entire race, the Utroms. We also have the Triceratons, who are a race of anthropomorphic triceratops people, but with technology and lasers and stuff. If you’re going to pose the question ‘Why would aliens look like turtles?’ you can pose it right to the creators of the series, as they introduced the Triceratons and several other aliens.
Change is also no stranger to the Turtles world. I’m sure any fan remembers the original comics were violent. The turtles were killers. They weren’t color coded. It was a serious book, there was drinking of alcohol, alien boobs, and lots of blood. Then they got turned into a beloved children’s property. Why aren’t we crying about that?
Within the comics, there were a group of characters called the Mutanimals, which were a variety of “mutant animals” except that they weren’t. Or they weren’t consistent. Several were people who had turned into animals (mutation would be pretty important here), at least one was a lizard who fell into the ooze as well (like the turtles), and one was a bastard child of a human and a Jaguar spirit. So one was hardly a mutant, while the others were mutants by different ways.
The point of this is, other than the title not making as much sense (like how The Karate Kid knows Kung Fu), not much is going to change. The Turtles will still be on the outskirts of civilization. They’ll be outcasts without a real hope of integrating into society. They will have never been human, nor will they have ever had a chance to grow into humans. They may even still be on the search for answers to their existence.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of things you can get upset about, but I really don’t think changing the origin of the Turtles should really bother you that much. If anything, this would provide more backstory and logic to the series. After all, why would turtles mutant into pretty intelligent and sentient beings? Doesn’t it make more sense that they’re aliens?
After the disastrously terrible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, shouldn’t we be happy for any competent TMNT film as long it doesn’t suck terribly?
Let’s face it, remakes and reboots often change things. I don’t see how making the Turtles into aliens rather than mutants changes their characters. Like I said, the mutation is a huge and defining factor in a series like The X-Men, but within the Ninja Turtles world, it didn’t actually make that big of a deal. There were always aliens and the mystery was always “Why do we exist?” not “Why are we mutants?” Virtually every single thing can be the same, save for some green goop.
What this really is about is probably more Michael Bay hatred. Get over it. The guy makes fun movies. The TMNT film is a long way off and the script would be amazing. There’s no reason to get all butt-hurt over it now. It’s not a big deal. I think it’s telling, and supportive of this point, that when Michael Bay basically said “Relax, the movie will be good” the Internet got butt-hurt over that too.
Seriously. Relax. In my mind, the mind of a long time Ninja Turtle fan, this is ultimately a minor change. Sure, it’s stupid because then the title doesn’t make sense, but overall, in terms of the characterizations of the Turtles and their relationship with Splinter, April, and the world, it will make little to no difference. In fact, I’m pretty excited by what else Bay said: Kids will believe one day that these turtles do exist. To me, I’m hoping for some ultra-realistic Turtles. Maybe Bay brings a comparable level of realism to the Turtles like he did with the Transformers. Say what you will about the movies, the robots looked amazing.
We really don’t know much about this project. It could end up being the coolest, most ass-kicking TMNT movie we’ve ever seen and if takes a little alien intervention, sign me up.