Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Creator Not A Fan Of New Movie Makeover

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Creator Not a Fan of New Movie Makeover

The comic creator who helped give Leo, Mike, Raph and Don their iconic looks isn't too sure about the human-like mouths and noses that they will be sporting in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Peter Laird — who helped give birth to the Turtles along with Kevin Eastman back in 1984 — gave an interview to Comic Book Movie about the Michael Bay-produced reboot, where he was critical in a relatively gentle way:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Creator Not a Fan of New Movie Makeover

…the changes to the basic design of the Turtles seemed to me to fall into the "fixing what is not broken" category. It's altogether possible that, in the context of this new movie, these designs will work well and not seem so odd, but I still point to what Jim Henson's "Creature Shop" team did with their rendering of the Turtles in rubber and paint as the best translation (in live action, anyway) of the Turtles as Kevin Eastman and I created them.

…one of the big problems (for me, anyway) with the new look created for the upcoming movie — with those noses and very expressive lips, their faces look too human. Perhaps it is just my own personal preference, but the "noseless beak" look for the Turtles which Kevin and I used in all of our comics, and in pretty much all of the licensed material during the Mirage days (and which was really there from the very beginning, when Kevin drew that first "ninja turtle") is, in my opinion, a great way to immediately show that these guys are not human — they're mutated reptiles. Creatures.

Picture: Daniel Keen/DeviantArt

The dialogue in the recent reboot trailer seems to support previous reports that Shredder will have had a hand in the Turtles' mutation origin. Laird thinks that making such a change undercuts part of what made original-recipe TMNT work:

As you know, in our original conception of the TMNT, the Turtles' existence as mutated beings WAS the result of an accident… or several accidents, if you count:

— TCRI canister jolted out of truck — canister bouncing off head of young guy saving old man from getting run over by truck — canister on new trajectory now hitting and smashing open glass container with the pre-mutated turtles in it — canister and turtles falling into manhole together — turtles crawling around in ooze from canister — Splinter (in pre-mutated form) observing all of this, and then getting into the ooze himself as he gathers up the turtles.

I have always found that accidental, somewhat random series of events culminating in the creation of the TMNT to be a significant part of the charm of the story. Somehow, retconning it to make their origin the result of deliberate action seems like a mistake. However, perhaps the writers have found a clever way to make this seems more palatable. We'll have to watch the movie to find out.

Laird's distaste for the change is pretty mild and, as one of the guys who created the amphibian reptilian martial artists, he's more entitled to his opinion than most observers. He's right in saying that most people haven't seen the finished movie yet and that these changes might work in a new context. And if they don't work, the original iterations of the Turtles are still around, ready to be enjoyed.

[Comic Book Movie, via Badass Digest]


    perhaps the writers have found a clever way to make this seems more palatable

    Yeah, MovieBob explains it's because it's their "destiny".

      Urrrgh. Destiny?

      Reminds me of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvJrNDeogc8, which I saw just the other night.

        What, the movie or that episode?

          Just that moment of a movie making me want to gag.

            What moment?

              Hypothetically hearing that it's 'destiny'.

                What destiny?

                  The destiny you mentioned in your first comment - MovieBob's explanation for the machinations behind the Turtles' mutation is 'destiny', which - as an explanation - evoked in me a similar reaction to that experienced by Mr. Garrison in the clip I linked. :)

    Gentle...? Yes
    Condemning...? I would also say yes

    Let's hope to god it ends up being the blockbuster movie it is penned to be
    Hopefully I'm in before all the BayHaterz.. Nothing like successfully reviving the transformers and being hated for it...


      As a child of the 80s, I was a fan of Transformers as a kid and I enjoyed the movies as well. They did what they were meant to do. People often just want to whine for the sake of it. We've become a bit entitled in my opinion.

      Don't get me wrong, people are entitled to whine but I'm just as entitled to call people out for them being stupid for whining.

      As the article said, if you don't like the new movie, you have the old material to watch. This may find a new audience and it may bring old and new together. Let's wait and see.

    I thought the whole accidental sequence of events leading to the conception of the Turtles was supposed to be a deliberate parody of the superhero origin story, and also draw a clear line between your typical human superpowered badass and, you know, mutant turtles.

    This new interpretation not only misses the appeal of the old character designs, but also, you know, the whole point of why TMNT exists.

      A lot of TMNT was just a spoof of comicbook heroes at the time. Even the title is a collection of what was popular (or what executives thinks is popular).

      Daredevil's origin specifically - i.e. the kid saving the old guy from the truck but blinded by the radioactive canister. And Splinter = Stick.

    The dialogue in the recent reboot trailer seems to support previous reports that Shredder will have had a hand in the Turtles’ mutation origin. Laird thinks that making such a change undercuts part of what made original-recipe TMNT work:

    They did this EXACT THING in the original animated series. It was Shredder that created the mutagen, it was Shredder that MADE them humanoid Turtles! Although granted, it wasn't a deliberate act by Shredder, but he certainly played a big hand in it.


    Not only that, but they changed the origins of Splinter (he was a human mutated into a rat form, instead of a rat mutated into a human form) and they introduced characters never in the original comics such as Rocksteady, Bebop and Krang. They completely changed Raphael's personality from an angsty emo to a wise cracking smartarse.

    If he didn't have a problem with the original animated series, then this guy is a bit of a hypocrite.

    Last edited 09/04/14 12:57 pm

      I loved the animated series as a kid and I'd completely forgotten all of that. They also turned the foot clan ninjas into robots so these ninja turtles could use their weapons every episode without also being cold blooded murderers.

      I guess it's one of those things about stuff aimed specifically at kids - you kind of forgive where it breaks canon in favour of it being more marketable and having action figures to sell (see also: Toxic Crusaders vs. Toxic Avenger).

        Yeah the robot foot clan was another thing they did, I remembered that after I made my post.

        The comics on the whole were quite dark, and that original animated series by contrast was definitely kidified. I liked how they returned to the roots of the comics in the first two live action movies though.

        Last edited 09/04/14 1:28 pm

          the 2003 cartoon was really great, still for kids but quite dark and adult at the same time

            Yeah that was a really good reinvention of the series. I think it's pretty accurate to the feel of the original comics and the characters even though some things were changed.

      Interesting - so the first movie (1990) is actually closer to the comic

        Correct. The first movie stuck pretty close to the comics overall. Second movie didn't do a bad job either. The cartoon series reboot in 2003 also sticks pretty close to the comics.

        The original animated series changed a heck of a lot and got further and further away from the comics as it went on. A few more notable differences were that Baxter Stockman was a Caucasian instead of African-American, and the introduction of characters like the Mutant Frogs and a Robot Turtle (seriously).

        Also in the original series, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi. That's not the case in the original comics (as he's a rat mutated into human form, so he couldn't possibly be Yoshi). Splinter was instead Yoshi's pet.

        Last edited 09/04/14 11:03 pm

    I don't know. I'm more weirded out by their noses and luscious, human-looking lips.

      For the yaoi fangirls (who have already been shipping the Turtles for years).

    Could have sworn I read a while back one of the original creators was working closely with the people behind this movie. Seems not.

    He's only 2 little funnel shaped ears away from being shrek...

      Was just about to say the same thing...


      Already hated them, now I will never get this out of my head!

    Does anyone else find it really sad movies that had absolutely fantastic Jim Hensen creature shop puppets or men in suits are being remade with soulless 3D animation? They don't look real next to the live action actors, while the old creature shop setups just had so much goddamn character and expression.

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