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The Ninja Turtles’ Creator Didn’t Think the Trailer Was So Great, Either

Oh, great. Another angry fanb—oh. Well then.

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The new look for the Ninja Turtles has gotten some mixed reviews to put it politely, but fan reactions can be easy for some people to overlook. So, CBM asked Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird what he though about their appearance, which was maybe what the new TMNT production should have done in the first place.

Of course, he didn’t just completely rip into them like so many katanas through the Foot, which would have been admittedly satisfying. He just doesn’t think the Turtles needed such a big change and said, “If nothing else, it looks like the new TMNT movie will have a lot of stuff going on and looking good (that toppling tower, for example)—but the changes to the basic design of the Turtles seemed to me to fall into the ‘fixing what is not broken’ category.”

Perhaps the least offensive visual change for the Turtles has been their outfits. The traditional, naked (except for their headbands and so-forth) Turtles have been replaced by Turtles that show their personality through their clothes and sport enough pieces of flair to work at Chotchkie’s. I’m not hugely opposed to the idea that a group of teenagers, no matter how disciplined in ninjutsu, would want to express their personalities through clothing, but Laird isn’t having any of it.

It may just be a personal preference of mine—and one informed by twenty-five years with the Turtles as co-creator working on those green dudes—but the extra “stuff” added to the Turtles’ outfits just seems extraneous to me, and a bit silly in spots (I mean, thin bamboo armor for a Turtle’s shell?). Maybe it will work, but right now, I don’t see it. I prefer the simpler versions.

Yeah, he just dropped his twenty-five years of Turtle-cred on Michael Bay’s team in that one. And then, of course, there are the noses, which it’s hard to even talk about, because they should never have existed in the first place. They even asked him what he though about the fan-made versions with their traditional “beaks” added back on, and he said:

It’s interesting, and well done, and I think it points up 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.

But, hey, it could be worse.

When I watched that trailer for the first time, and came to that bit near the end where Michelangelo takes off his bandana, revealing his full face to April, complete with human-looking nose, I immediately flashed back to the early days, back in 1984 or 1985 when we were living in Sharon, CT and just beginning to take steps into the world of licensing the TMNT. It was during that time that we received a letter from a small movie company—I think it was New World—offering us a deal to do a live-action TMNT movie, wherein they suggested that the way to go was to choose some (at that point in time) “hot” young comedians, dress them up in Turtle costumes, but leave their faces bare… except for a layer of green paint, so their zany comic expressions could be easily visible.

As you probably know, we turned that one down. Remember, this was well before the first animated TMNT series was  even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. It’s intriguing to contemplate what the history of the TMNT might have been had we accepted that first live-action movie offer.

That chill you just felt run up your spine was the lamenting cries from the darkest timeline where this movie happened and we all lived in a world where that’s what the Ninja Turtles became.

In the end, Laird was still optimistic, as I am, that the movie could turn out to be enjoyable despite all of our misgivings and disagreement with some of the choices they’ve made..

That being said, so far I have only seen this short trailer with just a few brief glimpses of the Turtles. My opinion could change. One thing that comes to mind if how cool it would be if someone did CGI versions of those same Henson designs, with all the incredible flexibility and seamless action potential available with today’s CGI.

Yeah, that would have been pretty great. Unfortunately, it seems like no one thought to ask Laird except for CBM, so now we have Turtles that look like Shrek.

I’ve had other fans disagree with me publicly and privately about waiting to judge this movie until I actually see it, but the bottom line is that I never wanted a new Ninja Turtles movie. They are perfect just as I remember them, and I can always take my comics off the shelf or pop the original, still amazing movie in if I want some Turtle action.

Just keep in mind that they can’t take away your childhood. They won’t digitally reinsert Johnny Knoxville over Leonardo. Remember, Michael Bay is producing it—not George Lucas.

(CBM via UPROXX, image via Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.