Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows wound up being one of multiple 2016 sequels that pulled diminished box office returns compared to its predecessor – a phenomenon since dubbed “sequelitis” by many in the entertainment press. Nevertheless, many TMNT fans and film critics alike felt the sequel by director Dave Green (Earth to Echo) and returning producer Michael Bay was superior to the 2014 live-action reboot of the franchise.
Some of that increased good will may have been due to a renewed focus on franchise-nostalgia in Out of the Shadows, including the presence of fan-favorite characters like Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang (whom many longtime fans know best from the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon TV series). Newly-released concept art for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel demonstrates that those mutant villains could have had a significantly different appearance in the film.
This Out of the Shadows artwork comes from conceptual artist Nuttavut Baiphowongse, who has also contributed artwork recently to Independence Day: Resurgence and Stranger Things, and can be viewed in full on his ArtStation page. According to the accompanying text, these designs were originally commissioned for the 2014 TMNT reboot, where the characters were meant to appear – but were removed from the narrative during pre-production, possibly as part of the last-minute story overhauls that also led to actor William Fichtner and the character of Shredder no longer being one and the same in the finished film.
Baiphowongse’s designs show off a very different conception of the characters, whose forms in Out of The Shadows closely mirrored the characters as they appeared in the 1980s/90s TMNT animated series. By contrast, Baiphowongse imagines the two musclebound half-animal henchmen with less cartoon-like physical proportions and wearing what appears to be customized tactical gear as opposed to the street-wear they sported in the film. Additionally, the design for Krang lends the alien overlord a more distinctly-alien presence and a more imposing robotic body than the final version.
While considered by many fans to be core parts of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lore, Bebop and Rocksteady did not originate in the comic book series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird that birthed the franchise. Rather, they were created for the tie-in toy line and subsequent animated series that became the eventual launching-pads for the global TMNT phenomenon. Krang was also a creation of the series, though his design was inspired by comic villains called the Utroms.
With Out of The Shadows considered a box office disappointment (though not necessarily an outright failure), it remains unclear what will become of the TMNT film franchise or if these characters will be seen again in live action. The property is currently enjoying consistent success via a revived animated series on Nickelodeon and a resurgent merchandising empire catering both to younger and older fans alike. A third live-action film has yet to be green-lit, though.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will be available on DVD and Blu-ray starting September 20th, 2016.