What the TMNT Reboot Should Be

by Allen D. Lyons about a year ago in movie

Another reboot? Yes. But there's so much they haven't used yet.

What the TMNT Reboot Should Be

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be getting yet another movie reboot. The story of these lovable heroes in a half-shell has been told numerous times.

  • There have been three sets of movies. Fans still call back to the original three from the Nineties. 2007's computer animated TMNT featured Patrick Stewart as a villain that was not Shredder. And there's the two recent ventures produced by Michael Bay.
  • They lived even more lives on the smaller screen. The brothers' first cartoon was in 1987. In 1997, a live-action show from Fox Kids tried to recreate magic from the past movies. 2003 gave an animated series closer to the comics than the first cartoon. After the computer animation in '07, Nickelodeon produced their own GGI, pulling elements from all previous incarnations. Now in 2018, there's a new toon called Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which returns to the traditional 2-D animation.
  • And we can't forget about the source material. Our green friends first lived a not-so green life in Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's black-and-white comics. After fame from the first cartoon, Archie Comics published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. Fellas at Marvel stormed out and created their own imprint called Image Comics. Former Spider-Man artist, Erik Larsen, crossed his Savage Dragon over into something even darker than the original pages. Then Eastman and Laird's Mirage Studios churned out another run in the early to mid 2000's, titled Tales of the TMNT. Now currently under license from Nickelodeon, IDW has been publishing their version of the mutants.

With a multiverse full of Ninja Turtles, folks may be asking if we really need another? The answer to that is yes—shell, yes.

The big screen can be looked at as the ultimate version. You haven't reached your final glory until you're in a surround sound theater doctored with special effects. TMNT realized this in 1990. Then they realized it two more times. There was to be a fourth go at it. This would have added a fifth turtle named after another famous artist: Kirby. History proved Kirby, nor TMNT IV, ever saw the light of day. But eventually, three more movies did see that light.

Many long-time fans will tell you that first glory was the definitive one. Producer Michael Bay and Director Jonathan Liebesman couldn't live up to it. Not even by throwing classic villains into the sequel. But the thing about Hollywood is if first you don't succeed, try, try again and again. Though will the fans be so forgiving?

Me? I don't know how many Spider-Mans I'll watch. I don't know how many Batmans I'll watch. But if Hollywood keeps giving them to me, my arms will always be open. I always continue to envision my own versions. So if Hollywood wants to give us more Ninja Turtles, I got a few ideas.

Turtles: City at War

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At this rate, we all know they're teenagers, mutants, and ninjas. With so many possibilities for subtitles, the prefixes are already a mouthful. You know how winded I was after saying, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows?” Jesus. I'd like to think by now, just saying Turtles would be enough for moviegoers.

Another beloved version exists in the gaming world. Who remembers button-mashing some Foot on Nintendo? I'd like to see a movie that gives you the feel of the classic side-scroll. The games had you throwing your Ninjitsu weapons at levels full of foot soldiers, mousers, and rock soldiers. So if non-stop action has our heroes swimming through cannon fodder, why not adapt the brutal City at War?

The original Mirage Studios run gave us this thirteen issue arc. It was adapted to both the '03 and '12 cartoons. High-time it's adapted for a movie. Gangs battle over turf rights in New York. Shredder's Foot Clan was in both sets of the live-action movies. But yet, no Purple Dragons or their leader, Hun.

City at War also featured the Rat King. He's captured Splinter. The sensei is abused and malnourished to the point of delirium. Rat King taunts him, saying there's no need to starve when there's food all around. Splinter goes so low, he resorts to cannibalism.

Karai is another prominent player in the War. It was great to see her in the last two movies. But they must have forgot she was Shredder's daughter. Like Black Cat to Spider-Man, or Catwoman to Batman, Karai is another femme fatale who teeters both sides of the fence. In City at War though, she serves as a general for the Foot.

In my story, Shredder has Splinter tied up in the TCRI building. Secret of the Ooze changed the initials to TGRI. But they were still responsible for the mutation. TCRI is actually a shadow organization for the Utroms. Though it was never said, Krang was the closest thing the original cartoon had to Utroms. If you're unfamiliar with the aliens, just picture that creepy brain holed up in an android belly, and you got it, dude! Out of the Shadows's Brad Garrett-voiced booger was preparing his portal to Dimension X. In this story, he does the same, setting up further sequels. So while Krang does that, Shredder is busy with Splinter. He's delirious from Rat King's treatments. Yet Shredder digs further into his psyche. He reminds him of their youth in Japan. Shredder wants retribution for the sins Yoshi supposedly committed against Oroku Saki.

Of course, his sons feel the need to save him. Between the sewers and the TCRI building is the war-ridden streets. Karai heads the Foot while her father is busy with Splinter. The Turtles push through the dispute between the Foot and the Purple Dragons. They pay allegiance to neither, but with help from Casey Jones, April O'Neil, and the Turtle Van, they might as well be their own gang.

The games had a boss at the end of each level. This movie would be no different. They would fight Hun and Karai, and even Krang's mind-controlled mutant alligator, Leatherhead.

Along the way, another ally joins their ranks. In the recent IDW comics, Bishop is a cyborg villain. But previous incarnations helped the Turtles, teaching them the good Utroms have done. With a brain in his belly, he wants to stop Krang as much as they want to stop Shredder.

After a climax battle in the portal room of TCRI, Splinter is saved. Though, Splinter and Krang get away. In a final scene, or even a post-credits one, the portal open back up. Out pops a goofy robot. A British accent says he's Professor Honeycutt, a fugitive from the Triceratons.

Turtles: Escape From Triceraton Bay

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You didn't think a great movie could get away without sequels did you? Every franchise must have them—they're a staple. The original had two. An alternate universe only knows what another with Kirby would have been like. The remake only had one sequel. But just like there are four brothers, a true Turtles series should have four movies.

So last we knew, we were introduced to the Fugitoid. Every die hard "Toitles" fan knows what that means. Yep, the Utrom/Triceraton War. Marvel has the Kree and the Skrulls. TMNT has these rival aliens. The Triceratons are self-explanatory: they're triceratops. Aw man, wouldn't they be wild to see in live-action? And where there's Triceratons, there's the Fugitoid. Professor Honeycutt was trapped in his own android creation, and made prisoner to these dinosaur beasts.

Since this is space, it'd be cool to see some other far-out fellas. Krakus wasn't from space, but he came from a very sci-fi episode of the OG show. I really dug the later seasons. Their masks were a little more detailed. The opening theme was remixed with cuts of live-action. And more science fiction elements were brought in. Krakus and his villain, Titanus, would fit well into a space adventure. And how 'bout an appearance from Wyrm?

Last installment, Krang was building a portal to Dimension X. So where does Krang's home realm fit in? If you remember from the OG 'toon, Krang had an army rock soldiers. Dimension X was also home to the hot-rodding teenagers, the Neutrinos. The IDW comics brought both of them into their canon. They would add even more sci-fi greatness to this space opera.

The climax battle of this flick would involve the various heroes and villains collected throughout. It would tear the Triceraton ship apart. The dinosaurs are destroyed, and even some casualties would occur. But our heroes are saved at the last minute. A giant cow's head appears and gobbles the Turtles, Fugitoid, and a couple Neutrinos. Unfortunately though, Splinter, Casey, and April are left behind.

Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

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I was introduced to Ninja Turtles through the '87 cartoon. I came home from school to find my sister watching it. But as I got into comics, I found the Archie Comics on the grocery store stands. I was too young to notice the Eastman and Lairds. Even if I was a little older, I don't think the gritty black-and-white would've appealed to me just yet. Just like the cartoon, the Archie covers were bright and colorful. Kevin Eastman's art may be very iconic to the franchise, but my childhood was painted more by Jim Lawson and Chris Allan.

Archie's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures grew even wackier than the cartoon. A giant cow head was about as wacky as they came. Cudley the Cowlick had a knack for chomping up our protagonists and spitting them out wherever. So in the nick of time, Cowlick saves the Turtles, Fugitoid, and a couple Neutrinos from the cold recesses of space.

They're spit out in the middle of an arena. The Archie series introduced us to all sorts of mutants. Here, you'd finally see the live-action incarnations battling it out; from Wingnut and Screwloose, to the Punk Frogs, even Monty Moose and Doctor El.

Then Cowlick gobbles up the victors, and takes them back to NYC. They may have rid the city of Shredder and Krang, but the said war raged on. Somebody had to continue fighting the crime. Since our mutant buddies were missing in action, more mutants rose to the occasion. Enter: The Mutanimals.

Mutanimals (A Spin-Off)

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The Mutanimals has had a revolving door of mutants on their roster. They're currently helping our heroes against Bishop in the latest IDW issues. The '12 cartoon featured them heavily. There was even supposed to be a spin-off series from the '87 cartoon. Sadly, that went the way of Kirby's movie. But they're brightest limelight was from their own Archie title.

Mondo Gecko is one of my favorite Turtle allies. And in this spin-off, he'd be the leader. While the Turtles were off in space, there was a mutant uprising. This “inter-quel” would show what happened during the events of Turtles: Escape from Triceraton Bay.

Hun has mutated. He's teamed up with another mutant named Lord Dregg. The insect baddie appeared in those later seasons of the OG 'toon. Then he showed his buggy face again in the '12 series. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may had been gone, but Dregg would have his own turtles to face the Mutanimals: Slash and Metalhead.

Leatherhead returns. Since he shook Krang's mind control, he's now a good guy. He joins Mondo, Mona Lisa, Ray Fillet, and Pigeon Pete in their fight against Hun, Dregg, Slash, and Metalhead.

Turtles in Time

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The Mutanimals may have defeated a few of the villains. But when the Turtles return, there's still mayhem in the streets. The fourth and final installment would start by finishing the fight. Slash turns good. Hun's Purple Dragons are shut down, but the Foot are still at large. For now though, Karai has vowed to stay out of the way.

Peace may be restored, but they can't forget their fallen. Splinter, Casey, April, and others were presumably killed out in space. How are they able to reverse that? An answer to their queries appears before them. From a portal pops out a girl in an odd helmet and an outfit spotted with clocks.

It is argued that Turtles in Time is the best TMNT game, perhaps the best Super Nintendo game. Sega Genesis had its own version, called Hyperstone Heist. A great fourth movie would be an homage. The only thing missing from the game was Renet Tilley.

She tells them that Shredder has stolen the Hyperstone and awakened the demonic Savanti Romero. So they go to a prehistoric age and recruit Cerebus. In the Mirage comic featuring Renet, Cerebus crosses over from his own indie comic by Dave Sim. Then they go to Japan and recruit Usagi Yojimbo, another crossover character. The samurai rabbit is from Dark Horse Comics, and has teamed up with the Turtles many times in the comics and the cartoons.

The Japan setting would also pay homage to the third movie of the original set. The 2012 cartoon had a great episode involving a young Saki and Yoshi. It also involves an infant Karai. Time-travel could play a part in, perhaps not saving Splinter, but recruiting a young Hamato Yoshi.

The climax battle of climax battles would pit our heroes against Shredder and Savanti on the outer rim of space and time. Maybe Wyrm could even show his ugly face one last time.

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One of these days, I'll be in a position to make movies like this. Maybe not in time for this new reboot. But who knows? With the way Hollywood dilly-dallies (ahem, DC), I might have a chance. Any case, I sure hope some of these characters finally get their chance in live-action.

Allen D. Lyons
Allen D. Lyons
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Allen D. Lyons

Author of Hostage 100 and Full Steam Ahead. Co-host of the Fatty/Slim Podcast

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