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‘Tweenage Alien MMA Terrapins’ Is All About Semantics


Art by Nebezial - DeviantArt

(Art by Nebezial – DeviantArt)

Recently, Michael Bay pissed off / confused a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans when he revealed they’d be aliens in the upcoming live action reboot set to hit theaters December 25th, 2013. In an official response, Bay stated he’s working with one of the original creators to build a richer story.

When some first heard / read about the turtles being aliens – they assumed he was talking about the Techno Cosmic Research Institute (“TCRI”) storyline developed in the TV series. In that arc, aliens developed a mutagen in a secret lab in Brooklyn, which ultimately transformed the turtles. In the comic book, the turtles mutated because of a truck accident that spilled toxic waste into the sewer and in the film they transformed due to “mysterious chemicals”.

Bay’s original quote is pretty clear-cut. But, of course, it comes down to semantics. Without the alien race, the Mutant Ninja Turtles would not exist. The sewer turtles would still exist, they just wouldn’t be Mutant Ninjas. He didn’t say “they are aliens”, he said “from an alien race”. Like a gift. So, as much as you hate the Utroms, they did gives us those lovable karate-kicking scamps.

However, my knee-jerk reaction – like many others – was “typical Bay!” Putting his fingerprints all over a reboot because of Hollywood’s need to modernize or alter a franchise’s core elements with pop culture fads to appeal to a new audience. Hence, the title of this article – FROM a (fictional account) of Bay’s convo with the studio:

STUDIO: We’re rebooting TMNT. Whaddya got?
BAY: Okay, first off, we gotta go back to the story’s roots. We’re going all the way back to the TV series.
STUDIO: You know there was a comic book before the TV show, right?
BAY: Yeah, sure but no one reads anymore.
STUDIO: (nodding)
BAY: So, I like that aliens created this mutagen that transforms the turtles, but what if the turtles WERE members of the alien race?
STUDIO: (smiling)
BAY: Okay, and we know that with American Idol and Justin Bieber that teens are so 2000 and late. It’s all about tweens now. So, let’s tell the story before the story. A prequel to my whole new original Turtles franchise.
STUDIO: I did read that kids are maturing and developing quicker.
BAY: Yeah, and let’s face it, they should be able to handle some serious shit by now. A 9-year-old in 2012 is like an 18-year-old 20 years ago. And these kids absolutely scoff at your Power Rangers, Bruce Lee chops and kicks. They watch the UFC on Spike.
STUDIO: (raising eyebrows)
BAY: Ninjas are played out. They’re 2007. Why have martial arts when you can have mixed martial arts?
STUDIO: (quietly masturbating under table)
BAY: And turtles? You remember that zombie kid who said, “I like turtles”?
STUDIO: Absolutely! That was hilarious! I just saw that last week!
BAY: Well, he doesn’t like turtles anymore. He loves terrapins.
STUDIO: Like in bowling?
BAY: No, like the school mascot.
STUDIO: Kids hate school.
BAY: Yeah, but they’ve been fed the word “terror” since birth so it’s like second nature. So, we change Terrapins to TERRORpins.
STUDIO: (slow clap that turns into standing ovation)

After the ovation dies down. They turn to creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

STUDIO: Whaddya think, guys?

Eastman has slit his wrists. Laird has OD’d on mutagen.

PS – While researching the comic book (I was first exposed to the franchise by the TV series), I learned there were parodies of TMNT (which is in itself a parody of Daredevil apparently):

Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters
Cold-Blooded Chameleon Commandos
Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos
Karate Kreatures
Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants

You know how The Dark Knight addressed the issue of imitation vigilantes who were inspired by the Batman? Bay and the TMNT production team should think about throwing these cheesy spin-offs into a scene. Just a hat tip, a wink, or an elbow nudge – most definitely not a major storyline.

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