Sunday Sunrise: Micheal Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the resulting backlash

I got some shocking news a week ago when one of our readers brought it to my attention that Micheal Bay is planning a live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. When I read a few articles and discovered that he’s changing the origin story from “baby turtles are mutated by radioactive sludge” to “something something something ALIENS!” I became enraged.

Then, after the fiftieth time I read someone’s comment stating that Bay had ruined his/her life, I started to feel silly for getting so worked up. Bay can direct what he wants, say what he wants, stand on top of a pile of Turtles fans and take a giant-robot-testicle-sized dump all over them if he wants, but nothing Bay accomplishes (or fails to accomplish) can go back in time and erase what we’ve loved for three decades. We’ll always have the first movie and original TV series. Besides, this isn’t the first time Turtles fans have dealt with ridiculousness. Have we forgotten Turtles III? Coming Out of Their Shells? Venus de Milo?

Actually everyone has forgotten about Venus de Milo, but I digress…

My point is that I think we fans have a tendency to be…fanatical about someone making changes we don’t like to a property we love. I’ve read a lot of exaggerated statements like “He’s ruined my childhood!” “My memories are never going to be the same!” and “He needs to die!” No, he hasn’t; yes, they are; and that’s debatable. Guys, is it so radical to suggest that we just ignore this? Of course I think it’s fine to be against these kinds of changes, and it’s also fine to voice that opinion, but I don’t think that legions of overzealous fans acting as if the world has ended is going to have the desired effect of Hollywood being sympathetic or even taking our concerns seriously. I think that our time could better be spent drawing attention to the movies and directors out there that deserve our respect, and not giving people like Micheal Bay any more publicity or “buzz” than he deserves (which is none).

Are you tired of all of this hubbub and think everyone should move on? Do you think I’m wrong and that we should scream about these injustices until…something happens? Sound off in the comments!

Bonus: Coming Out Of Their Shells! (Skip to 2:03)



  1. Point of interest. There was an article in Smithsonian Magazine back in the Nineties (can’t recall the specific issue and it appears to not be in their online archive) about TMNT. One item I recall concerns how the turtles got their names. Apparently Eastman went up to his bookshelf, closed his eyes, and grabbed a book at random. As it happened, the book was one on Renaissance art. It also gave a brief mention of the Palladium Books produced role-playing game that was made well before the property became a big hit as a cartoon. The writer of the RPG Kevin Siembieda always makes the point that it’s based on the original comic books.

  2. I might also point out that the movie hasn’t even come out yet – people have announced all sorts of crazy things about movies that never actually come to pass. If the powers-that-be pay any attention to all the uproar this has caused, they may well tell Bay to knock it off.
    Anyway, forgive me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the slime that mutated them in the first place from Dimension X or something? So it’s not ENTIRELY without precedent.

  3. Personally, whenever I hear Bay’s name I don’t expect it to be a good movie. Even if he had not uttered a word about aliens I would still not have any kind of hope for the film. I think that most of the time a person can make these judgements based on a director’s body of work if they have strong feelings either way about said director. I have a strong dislike for Bay’s work, so I feel confident saying that it won’t be something I will enjoy.

    As for the ooze, you are correct. It was created by an alien race known as the Utrom. Still, I don’t think that’s enough of a leg to stand on as a defense for having them come from outer space, though. I’ll wait until more is revealed before I make further judgements.

    • It could be that they’ll turn out to be mutated turtle-like Utrom lab animals or something, as opposed to actual turtles, making them effectively aliens AND mutants. I’d buy that – I mean, let’s face it, even considering their mutations, the TMNT don’t actually look a hell of a lot like real turtles, apart from the shells.

    • “IN a halfshell”, not “on the”. But yeah, I did kind of wonder about that – especially since I just looked it up, and the term “halfshell” only applies to bivalves like oysters and clams. You can have oysters in a halfshell, but there is no such thing as turtles in a halfshell, because the shells of turtles don’t COME in halves.
      Really, though, I never thought too much about it, simply because that is still one of the most awesome theme songs ever recorded. It’s just perfect – I get chills whenever I hear it. If it’s got an inapplicable term as one of the lyrics, so what? It WORKS.

  4. I also had time to calm down after hearing the “alien” news. It’s true that most incarnations of the Turtles involve aliens, either from Dimension X or Utrum. It’s Michael Bay at the helm that worries me more than anything, but I’ll reserve judgement for now. Say what you want about his Transformers films, they did regenerate interest in a dead franchise. Maybe this film will get every kid yelling “Turtle power!” again.
    Central to the origin story is that a ninja master, Splinter, raised the turtles in isolation within the sewers of NY. I feel like that MUST be maintained. When I heard “they’re aliens now!” I pictured four fully grown Turtle aliens crash landing on earth ready to kick some butt. That leaves too many questions, how then do they know ancient Japanese ninjitsu, would Splinter be involved at all, etc. If they somehow arrive on earth as young turtles and a giant rat somehow manages to train them anyway? Meh, whatever, I’d accept that.
    Just don’t mention Venus de Milo anymore, let’s not give Michael Bay any ideas.

    • When rummaging around in my brain for a “turtles are aliens” plot that I find acceptable, “baby alien turtles landing on Earth” is pretty much the only one I’ve come up with. Still, that leaves me with the same questions about Splinter that you brought up.

      As for Venus de Milo, well, I can almost guarantee there’s going to be some kind of love interest in a Micheal Bay film, whether it be a proto-Megan Fox for some doofy human guy the TMNT is hanging out with, or a female mutant. I’m not sure which I’d prefer, to tell you the truth. I’m kind of with Doug Walker on this one, insofar as if we’re gonna have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Alien movie, might as well get some form of morbid enjoyment out of how badly he’s going to mess things up.

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