In what seems to be an attempt to calm the fans down after producer Michael Bay’s ill received announcement that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be “from an alien race,” co-creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman and ‘TMNT’ reboot director Jonathan Liebesman have come out in defense of Bay.
Previously Bay had issued a statement that his team was “working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story.” Well it looks like “one” of the original creators he was talking about was Kevin Eastman. In a statement issue today Eastman comments:
“Hey Guys, Sorry to have been away for so long–completely swamped with work–but it is some pretty exciting stuff. I had been invited to check out the TMNT film development by my friend Scott Mednick over the years, and a while back had a full look behind the curtain at what writers Appelbaum and Nemec, director Liebesman, and producer Bay are doing–and trust me–it IS AWESOME. I’m officially on board, and will share more as I’m allowed… thanks all!”
Peter Laird, the other half of the brilliant team who brought the TMNT to life, was a little more verbose in his thoughts of Bay’s comments when he published this on his blog a few days ago:
I have had several requests from TMNT fans during this past week to comment on the idea of the Turtles being “reimagined” as aliens for the upcoming TMNT movie to be produced by Michael Bay. A few people — who don’t seem to understand that I am no longer in control of the property — want me to stop this, somehow. Obviously, I can’t do that, even if I wanted to.
But I would actually encourage TMNT fans to swallow the “chill pill” Mr. Bay recently suggested they take, and wait and see what might come out of this seemingly ill-conceived plan. It’s possible that with enough truly creative brainpower applied to this idea, it might actually work. I’m not saying it’s probable, or even somewhat likely… but it IS possible.
However, as I have pondered this further, I have realized that in one way it IS truly a genius notion. Let me explain…
Over the years, I have made no secret of my distaste for what I consider to be the weak, facile, creatively bankrupt idea which can be summed up like this:
“If FOUR Ninja Turtles are good, then FIVE (or more) Ninja Turtles MUST be better!”
It was in large part this brain-dead notion that led to the creation of the execrable “Venus de Milo” character in the blessedly short-lived live action TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation”. And I can’t tell you how many times we got mail in the early years of the Turtles from people who thought it was simply an amazing idea to do a “fifth Turtle”, and how many times those same people suggested that this fifth Turtle be named “Picasso”. And many times, the brilliant idea to explain This extra Turtle was that, instead of there being just four pet shop turtles in that glass bowl in the origin story, there were really FIVE.
I’ll admit — I have played with the idea of more Turtles myself, a few times. There was the character of “Kirby”, the “fifth Turtle” that Kevin Eastman and I came up with for one of the several movie ideas which never came to fruition. And I created the “Super Turtles” in Volume 4 of the TMNT comics published by Mirage… and they eventually appeared in one episode of the 4Kids animated TMNT TV series.
… in both those instances, I was careful to make these Turtles not just MORE of the same, i.e. just extra TMNT. In both of the above cases, the extra Turtles were from other dimensions… and the Super Turtles, especially, were VERY different from the Ninja Turtles. I don’t remember all the details of the work we did on that “Kirby the Fifth Turtle” thing, but I DO remember being adamant that if we were going to agree to the idea of a “fifth Turtle”, it would have to be something other than the harebrained “there was an extra Turtle in the bowl, etc.” idea.
Is that too fine a line? Yeah, maybe… but to my way of thinking, anyway, it is a CLEAR line.
Anyway, to get back to the “TMNT are aliens” thing — the reason I say it could be a “genius” idea is that — for the first time — someone has come up with a way to have as many freakin’ Turtles as they want. I mean, if the TMNT are actually members of an alien race, there could be a whole PLANET of them!
Joy. – PL
(By the way, when asked if he was being genuine or sarcastic about the “genius notion” comment, Laird replied, “Both actually”). Take what you will of the two comments but it must also be known that although Laird is not involved in Bay’s reboot project, Eastman is and is obviously getting compensated to do so.
While on a press tour promoting his new film ‘Wrath of the Titans’, director Liebesman did manage to comment about Bay’s remarks:
“Look, it’s so funny—if everyone was such a die-hard fan, they would know that the TCRI canisters where the ooze comes from. That is alien ooze. Now I’m not saying what Michael said is exactly what the movie is, because we’re sitting in a room now figuring everything out. So we don’t know, but we are like Michael said: we’re expanding it, and the expansion will be true to the mythology. I promise you: fans will love it.”
So there is a chance that the only alien part of the Turtles will be from the ooze. Liesbesman continues on by saying:
“Whatever mythology we’re building on or expanding is coming from that guy, Kevin Eastman’s head, who created the Turtles in the first place. And so everything will tie in with the mythology; fans will be extremely excited with what we’re coming up with. A lot of it is stuff he’s wanted to do for a long time, but just hasn’t had the opportunity because now we have the budget and things on this film to expand it in the right way. And so, I’m happy that everyone is extremely passionate, and they will not be disappointed. It’s all coming from the best possible place for this franchise.”
This may sound like good news to fans but I am still a bit jaded with all the news. Eastman has already stated that what he saw was “a while back” and Liebesman has stated that they are all still “sitting in a room now figuring everything out. So we don’t know…” I find Eastman’s comments a bit suspect if what he saw was “AWESOME” but it was not something he has seen recently as they are still trying to figure out the mythology. If you take Laird’s comments into the mix, in the past he has obviously wanted to keep the mythology of the 4 main Turtles intact but was able to include other Turtles in the mix without messing with their origin. Why can’t Bay do the same?
A simple statement from Bay clarifying his remarks would ease everyone’s mind but it doesn’t look like that may happen anytime soon. So I guess there is really nothing the fans can do but “chill” as Bay suggested as they will do with the ‘TMNT’ what they will with this reboot. Hopefully we’ll hear more about the actual origins where filming begins sometime in September.
So have these comments changed your mind about the movie?