Nickelodeon is set to release Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To everyone who has already written it off: Wait.
Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael – every card-carrying geek knows these names. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or TMNT as it is often abbreviated, have been a staple of Pop-culture since their creation in 1984. Beginning as a comic book, before expanding to include an animated series, and later, live-action films, the many forms the franchise takes have been remade and rebooted numerous times over the years, to varying degrees of success.
After the high of the 2012 CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, many fans believe the franchise is about to crash to a new low with Nickelodeon’s upcoming 2D-animated reboot, Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Recently released character designs and information regarding the series have not been received well, with fans particularly disliking the fact that Raphael, the hothead of the group, has taken Leonardo’s traditional position as leader of the turtles. The new art style and character designs have also been frowned upon.
I, for one, believe it is too early for fans to reject the new Turtles just yet, especially since the series hasn’t aired a single episode.
Here are five reasons why Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles deserves a chance.
1. Making each of the Ninja Turtles a different species is a stroke of genius.
Unlike any previous incarnation of the series, Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has each member of the team as a different species. Some have questioned how this is possible. The turtles are supposed to be brothers, after all. However, considering that they are adopted, making different species becomes less of an issue. It is also very clever.
Each turtle now has individual traits that weren’t present before, while maintaining connections to their classic personas.
Raphael is now a Snapping turtle, one of the more aggressive species. This is a perfect link to his classic tendency to fight first and ask questions later.
Leonardo is a Red-Box Slider. He is no longer the leader, but stands out in other ways.
Some varieties of Box Turtle, from which Michelangelo gets his design, are near endangered. This reflects Mikey’s status as the youngest brother. His carefree attitude leads him to danger from which the older turtles need to protect him.
Finally, Donatello is a Soft-Shell Turtle, ordinarily too vulnerable for battle. He counters this by building himself high-tech battle shells. This is a perfect quirk for a character who has always been the team’s Tech Whiz, no matter what the incarnation.
2. Depicting April O’Neil as African-American is a win for diversity
In every incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the team always starts off with one constant human companion: April O’Neil. She always meets the Turtles early, becoming their first friend in the world above the sewers.
April’s age and function within the team is slightly different between each incarnation. In the 80s series, she is a news reporter in her early twenties. In the 2012 CGI series, she is a teenager who develops strong psychic powers. April is always usually shown as being white with red hair. Some early comics depict her with dark hair, but she is always white skinned.
Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles changes this. For the first time, April O’Neil will be portrayed as Black. Fans are not happy with the change. But..
None of the vital parts of April’s character are connected with her race.
To those fans I say, what’s the problem? April has always been white, that’s true. But more importantly, April has always been kind, clever, and brave. A person can be kind, clever, and brave no matter what their skin colour. I welcome the new April. She is a much needed step forward in the growing effort to increase diversity in Television.
3. Splinter’s new design is a realistic twist
The backstory of Splinter varies between each TMNT incarnation. In early versions, he is the pet rat of Hamato Yoshi, learning martial arts by watching him practice. In others, he is Hamato Yoshi. With either scenario, Splinter is mutated in the same accident that mutates the Turtles, adopting them as sons and training them as Ninjas. Most of Splinter’s character designs depict him as sleek, skinny, and wiry.
Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once again looks to change this. While most likely still a Master Martial Artist, Rise’s Splinter is much shorter and rounder than his previous designs. Once again, old fans are not happy. But..
Splinter’s new design makes sense, particularly if he was a pet.
Splinter is most often shown as being a pet rat before his mutation. Pet rats are different from sewer rats. As a pet, Splinter would not have had to scavenge for food. His healthier shape makes sense. Even after mutation, food is not hard to come by, as the turtles are often seen calling for pizza.
Splinter’s smaller size also makes sense. While a lucky wild rat could grow bigger than some species of turtle, it is unlikely that a pet rat would.
Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks to be taking a slightly more realistic take on some aspects of the story. I believe this should be applauded.
4. The TMNT franchise has always celebrated the past. Rise is no different.
The TMNT franchise has never been afraid to celebrate its past, often making references to its own vast mythology.
Turtles Forever, a TV film produced for the franchise’s 25th anniversary, has three different incarnations of the turtles – those from the 80s series, 2003 series, and the original comics – working side by side.
Similarly, the final few episodes of the 2012 series had the present Turtles training their 80s counterparts for a battle against 80s Shredder and 2012’s Bebop and Rocksteady.
Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will most likely continue the tradition of celebrating the series’ history, but it will do it in its own unique way.
Rise may already be giving a subtle nod to IDW’s darker comics.
Earlier in this article, I spoke of the brilliance of each Ninja Turtle’s new unique species. Donatello’s need to build special Battle Shells as a Soft-shell turtle is an especially clever twist.
To fans of the comics, it is even more clever. In one shocking issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, Donatello is supposedly killed after Rocksteady smashes his shell. The following issue revealed that Donatello survived. His consciousness was briefly transplanted into the robot Metalhead while his body healed. While Donatello does recover, things are never quite the same for him. A turtle’s shell is not designed to heal if it is broken.
The comic Donatello’s shell is now a permanent weakness for him. This scenario is much too dark to ever play out on TV. However, it is still strikingly similar to Rise’s Donatello, who has had to work around the lack of a strong shell his entire life.
5. Rise’s Art Style Matches What Today’s Kids Watch.
Classic TMNT fans have expressed an intense dislike for Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles art style. I admit it is different from anything seen in TMNT before. The thick lines and bold colours are similar to the comic book style of Teen Titans Go!, or the Ducktales reboot.
Why? This style catches the eye of Today’s kids. It is what they are used to watching. Old fans need to remember that reboots of their childhood favourites aren’t always meant for them.
They are made to introduce the characters to a new generation.
Every fan has their favourite version of TMNT, whether it be the original 80s cartoon, the 90s live action films, or the 2012 CGI series. We all treasure our favourites.
For hundreds, probably thousands of children around the world right now, Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is about to become their favourite. They are about to fall in love with Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. We should let them fall in love with their Turtles, as we fans of the past were allowed to fall in love with ours. In time, they may look back to find our Turtles, and discover they love them too.
I welcome Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the new young fans it will bring. They have a lot to discover.
While you’re anticipating some fresh telly, why not head to the cinema, armed with our list of the ten most anticipated movies of 2018.