Why ‘Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles’ is a Terrible Idea

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You’ve most likely heard by now that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are about to become the Teenage ALIEN Ninja Turtles in the upcoming 2013 film produced by Michael Bay.

In a video quote that has gotten TMNT fans’ collective panties in a bunch to the point where even ex-TMNT celebrities and major news outlets are weighing in on the backlash, Bay said:

“These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny, and completely lovable.” [Source]

As a huge TMNT fan, I’ve been furious  since I heard about it on Twitter, and the fact that Michael Bay has a track record of ruining beloved franchises from our childhoods doesn’t help.

But I understand that Bay is just the producer and didn’t write the ‘Ninja Turtles’ script, so I’m not here to bash Michael Bay specifically (at least not today). So consider this blog post directed at whoever is responsible for the idiotic, horribly ill-conceived idea that the Turtles should be aliens.

Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles

Image credit: Goongasnootch @ Technodrome Forums

Now that I’ve had a few days to calm my nerdrage and collect my thoughts, it’s time we discussed:

6 completely rational reasons why Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles is a terrible idea:

1. Their name is Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles for chrissakes. It’s obvious, I know, but let’s not overlook the basic facts, ok? Because whoever wrote the new script sure as hell did. I guess now we know why the new film will just be called ‘Ninja Turtles.’

2. It’s a completely unnecessary change to one of the core elements of the Turtle’s mythology. How would you feel if Spiderman was never bitten by a radioactive spider? Or if Superman wasn’t from planet Krypton? (Feel free to substitute any of your favorite superhero’s origin stories here.) The Turtles are, and always have been, actual turtles who were transformed into what they are by mutagen ooze. This is an essential component of the origin story that you’ll find in every incarnation of TMNT, including the comics, films, TV shows, and video games.

3.  If the Turtles are aliens, it means they weren’t created by accident.  The shock of discovering the fact that they were essentially created by accident and the resulting struggle to find their place in the world is a crucial part of the Turtles’ backstory. It’s a major theme that has shaped each of the Turtles’ personalities and story arcs in some way. Take that away and you’ve removed one of the most essential drivers of the Turtles’ character development.

4.  It means the Turtles are much less unique.  “Alien race” implies there could be lots of other Turtles out there. If there’s suddenly a whole home planet of Turtles, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don’t really seem so special, do they? The idea of adding more Ninja Turtles beyond the original four into the Turtleverse is an idea that TMNT co-creator Peter Laird describes on his blog as a “weak, facile, creatively bankrupt idea.” Ouch. Then again, I suppose that’s what he gets for selling the franchise.

5.  It downplays the importance of Splinter’s role in the Turtles’ lives.  Splinter—a rat who is of course also a mutant and not an alien—is the Turtles’ sensei, caretaker and father figure who raised them since they were babies, having been mutated from the same puddle of ooze. Sharing the Turtles’ same fate is what gives them such a strong bond. How does Splinter fit into the new alien origin? Would the Turtles still look upon him as a father if they have an alien family chilling back on the home planet? Is there another whole planet full of rat people?? (Again—unnecessary complications to to an origin story that is already quite complicated enough.)

6. It makes the actual alien stuff in the Turtleverse a whole lot less interesting.  Now I know some of you are sitting there thinking, “But wait a minute, the Turtles already kind of have an alien origin!” Yes, it’s true that the Turtleverse is already rife with aliens (e.g. Krang, Triceratons, Utroms…). Even the mutagen that transformed the Turtles is an alien substance created by (wait for it…) aliens. The point is there’s already ALL KINDS of alien creatures, characters, plot lines, universes to draw from if they want to go that route. Do we really need to make the Turtles aliens too?

To sum up:

If Bay and company want to put aliens in the new Ninja Turtles flick, I’m totally fine with that. Krang, Beebop and Rocksteady? Awesome! But for God’s sake–

LEAVE THE TURTLES ALONE!!!

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