By now, the Ninja Turtles movie reboot – which Michael Bay (Transformers) is producing and Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) is directing – is on the rocks with its fanbase, thanks to a chain of creative decisions that have generally been regarded as ill-conceived at best, baffling at worst. Most infamously, that includes (alleged) changes to the Turtles’ backstory, based on previous comments made by Bay “way” back in 2012.
However, after engaging in a war of words with Turtles fans online for over a year now, Bay has (finally) let it be known that his original statement – which did suggest a significant change to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythology in the reboot – was not, in fact, entirely accurate.
To refresh your memory, here’s the Bay comment about Ninja Turtles that started it all:
“When you see this movie, kids will believe one day that these turtles do exist, when we’re done with this movie. These turtles [in the reboot] are from an alien race, and they’re going to be tough, edgy, funny, and completely lovable.”
The resulting backlash online prompted Bay to issue a response a couple days later; however, rather than elaborate on his statement, the filmmaker simply assured fans that “We are just building a richer world.” Then, a few months later, TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman – who is serving as a creative consultant on the Ninja Turtles live-action movie reboot – appeared to suggest that Bay had not misspoken, and that the proposed altered origin story is a natural extension of the classic Turtles mythology:
“As soon as [‘TMNT’ co-creator Peter Laird] and I had freedom, we took [the Turtles] into outer space and introduced the TCRI aliens [a.k.a. the Ultroms] and then we took you to the origin of the ooze, so they [the Turtles] have alien origins, they are from outer space… [‘Ninja Turtles’] has to be well-grounded in Turtle history and lore, we don’t wanna take that away from the fans.”
Jump ahead to the present, and we find Bay conducting interviews to promote his new film Pain & Gain (read our review), when he offered some clarification about his previous Ninja Turtles statement (via Moviefone):
“There was that quote saying that we’re making [the Ninja Turtles as] aliens. We’re not. It’s the ooze! It’s from the original source material. These are from the original writers, and I never went out to correct myself in the press. I do listen to the fans and I do want this to be authentic. I think they’re going to be really happy with this movie. When I see the digital stuff, the turtles look great.”
Bay proved he’s not deaf to the cries of the Internet last year, when he cast Mark Wahlberg in Transformers 4 after being (in part) inspired by online rumors. The Ninja Turtles reboot has, likewise, showed signs of change that seem to be a direct response to the negative fan reactions, going back to when Paramount delayed the release date by six months in order to allow for additional development and budget reduction; that may have included script rewrites, which were carried out by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman).
The reports about Daugherty handling script revisions quietly emerged with rumors that, during the 2013 CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Paramount reps unveiled a banner revealing the shortened Ninja Turtles title has been dropped and replaced by the traditional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand name. Combine the latest Bay comments together with this rumor, and it’s not a leap to assume that Paramount, Bay and Liebesman are, in fact, changing course with this reboot.
Is this evidence that the widely-despised Ninja Turtles script draft that leaked online – one which DID feature a plot twist where the Turtles discover they are, in no uncertain terms, aliens from another world – has essentially been tossed out, as a response to the fan outcry (to some degree, anyway)? It’s certainly possible, given how studio executives and producers have, over the past year, finally begun to adjust to how the Internet has changed the way fans respond to movies before they hit theaters (see: Kathleen Kennedy’s recent comments about not keeping fans in the dark on Star Wars: Episode VII).
That’s not to say Ninja Turtles is now in the clear; after all, between decisions like casting Megan Fox as April O’Neal, and the collective filmography of Bay and Liebesman, there’s still plenty of reason to be wary about this reboot. Nonetheless, Bay’s most recent comment does give more credibility behind the recent claims made by actor Alan Ritchson – who is playing Raphael via motion-capture – about how we don’t really know what the film’s about yet.
Ninja Turtles opens in U.S. theaters on June 6th, 2014.
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Artwork via ~iangoudelock@deviatart