Like the proverbial chicken vs. egg paradox, in the history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it can be easy to forget which came first, the movies or the merchandise? Or was it the television show? No matter. So much of my childhood was connected, like living tissue, with the adventures of Donatello and Rafael that their origins were never questioned, even as the franchise made obscene profits off of my hero worship.
But that was in the early 90s, when merchandise/movie cross-pollination was still in its nascent phase (Star Wars trilogy withstanding). A quarter of a century later, the landscape has changed dramatically. Back then, our heroes had only Batman to contend with at the silver screen. They were big turtles, so to speak, in a small pond. Today, however, the ninjas are small turtles in a swelling ocean of comic superheroes, adaptations, sequels, remakes, reimaginings, paranormal romance quadrilogies, Hasbro toy franchises, remakes of sequels, adaptations of remakes and more. And that doesn’t even include the renaissance of the small screen, which is its own ocean of quality content.
Into this saturated environment the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will enter August 8th, aided by Megan Fox, who I support, and Michael Bay, who I would prefer never involve himself with another movie for as long as he (or I) still live. Michael Bay, if you recall, is the same director who brought us such gems as Pearl Harbor (score of 25%, out of 100, on Rotten Tomatoes), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (36%), and Bad Boys II (23%). With a track record like that, I have every reason to worry, even if Bay sits only in the producer’s chair and not the director’s.
If the gods have mercy, this will hopefully be a faithful screen adaptation of the Turtles – one that doesn’t reach for the low-hanging fruit of excessive special effects, gratuitous action sequences or forced bodily humor gags. Judging by its trailer, it could go either way.
Do you plan to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the theater?