‘TMNT’ New Origin Story & Source Material Connections Explained

Published 8 months ago by

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 Origins Explained TMNT New Origin Story & Source Material Connections Explained

For months, fans have worried over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film reboot from producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman – following a number of controversial filmmaking decisions: the casting of former Transformers star Megan Fox as April O’Neil, rumored changes to the titular turtles’ origin story, as well as a modern makeover for the Heroes in a Half Shell. In fact, just one week before release it was still unclear whether William Fichtner was the movie’s primary villain – and the man inside of the Shredder armor.

However, now that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in theaters, we finally have answers to fans’ biggest questions (and concerns). For our official thoughts on the quality of Liebesman’s adaptation read our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles review or listen to our TMNT episode of the Screen Rant Underground podcast; though, if you’ve already seen the movie (or do not mind being spoiled), read on for our explanation of the new TMNT origin story, as well as info to help casual moviegoers learn which aspects of the reboot are nods to the comic book (and animated series) source materials. This post is going to be full of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles SPOILERS from here on out. READ NO FURTHER unless you’re all caught up.







The Mutagen (aka Ooze)

tmnt movie trailer 2014 ooze tcri TMNT New Origin Story & Source Material Connections Explained

2014 Film Origin: In the new film, the origin of the ooze is left open for exploration in future sequels. Yet, Eric Sachs (William Fichtner) outright states that the substance is extraterrestrial – which shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to anyone who caught the T.C.R.I. label on the mutagen’s canister. In the comics, T.C.R.I. (the Techno Cosmic Research Institute) is actually a shell corporation/Earth base for the alien species known as the Utroms – the same life forms as fan-favorite baddie, Krang.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ooze TMNT New Origin Story & Source Material Connections Explained

Source Material Inspiration: Certain origins of the ooze depict the substance as man-made; however, the original Mirage comic book series – as well as select TMNT adaptations across various mediums – have presented the ooze as an extraterrestrial substance. As mentioned, the Utroms are most often attributed with creating the mutagen (either intentionally or inadvertently). In the original source material, the ooze is actually the byproduct of the Utroms’ attempt to create a portal back to their home planet. As the Utroms were shipping the substance (in T.C.R.I. canisters) to a waste disposal facility, one of the glass containers was knocked off the truck and rolled into the sewer.


April O’Neil

Megan Fox April Oneil TMNT Movie TMNT New Origin Story & Source Material Connections Explained

2014 Film Origin: Dr. O’Neil (Paul Fitzgerald) was a scientist who joined by Erich Sachs (William Fichtner) and hoped to harness the T.C.R.I. mutagen as a means to combat disease, infection, and poisoning in the human body. During experiments, O’Neil’s daughter April helped take care of their test subjects: a rat (Splinter) and four turtles (Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael).

However, after Dr. O’Neil learned of Sachs’ true plan for the mutagen, he attempted to destroy their research and was killed in the process. Years later, chasing a lead as an investigative journalist for Channel 6 news, April encounters a familiar Japanese symbol – a symbol with connections to her father’s research. Unable to pass up the chance to learn more about Dr. O’Neil’s death, April’s investigation leads her into a conflict between the Foot Clan and her former turtle pets – now a team of crime-fighting mutant vigilantes.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles April ONeil TMNT New Origin Story & Source Material Connections Explained

Source Material Inspiration: While 2014 April O’Neil is in-line with the most familiar iterations of the character (a headstrong news reporter who stumbles upon the turtles while investigating the Foot Clan), certain TMNT fans may think the childhood backstory (featuring Dr. O’Neil) came out of nowhere and was forced into the Ninja Turtles reboot simply to give April and the turtles a shared origin. After all, the father O’Neil character is either deceased or peripheral in most versions of TMNT mythology.

Yet, Mr. O’Neil has appeared in prior pieces of TMNT programming – especially as a supporting character in the 2012 animated series. In that version, Dr. Kirby O’Neil works as a psychologist, not a geneticist, but his abduction by The Kraang (the 2012 iteration of the Utroms) is still the inciting event that first brings April and the turtles together. Dr. O’Neil was even mutated into a bat-like creature during the show’s second season - until the turtles returned him to normal. Furthermore, this isn’t the first time that TMNT franchise writers have connected April to the science community - since the iterations of the comic book series (and later the 2003 animated show) saw the heroine working, at least for a time, as a research assistant to Dr. Baxter Stockman (instead of her more well-known occupation as a news reporter), and even had her responsible for first naming the four pet turtles, like in the movie.


NEXT PAGE: New TMNT Origin Story Revealed!

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  1. Let the complaining bout Bay Tournament commence!

  2. These… actually weren’t bad reinterpretations of the original source material… I’m actually quite surprised, and dare I say, impressed.

    Two things though: (1) Why would April O’Neil try to save the turtles only to dump them in to the sewer? I haven’t seen the movie, but that makes no sense. (2) The worst deviation is Splinter’s backstory. No Hamato Yoshi? That was integral to his character. They could have easily written it so that, prior to being an animal in Dr. O’Neil’s lab, he still could have been a pet to Hamato Yoshi. They could have given Yoshi connections to the science community as well, writing it so that Splinter might have been exposed to a milder version of the mutagen earlier on, thus explaining how a simple rat could have been able to copy his master’s moves. And because Hamato Yoshi already had connections to the science community, then it could have easily been explained how Splinter went from Dr. Yoshi’s lab to Dr. O’Neil’s.

    Anyways, that’s my two cents, but that’s why I don’t write movies.

    • I think what you’ve suggested is going to make Splinter’s origin a lot better. Seriously, if martial arts can be picked up by just a book, I feel so sorry for the likes of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee who spent decades perfecting their moves. But again, this is a movie that does not take itself too seriously and it’s really not a problem at all as long as they devote most of the running time to cool action set pieces and turtle moments.

      • *Spoiler*
        But then again that could also explain why the turtles get their collective asses handed to them by the shredder lol
        I thought that too though.. “Oh hey let me read this book and learn martial arts to teach my sons..” Yea it doesnt work like that. It felt like a huge misstep

        • Yeah the Splinter back story was a HUGE flaw… so a rat became a sensai from reading an old book in a sewer? There was NO connection to martial arts besides that very superficial explanation: I wanted to keep them busy and discipline them… That’s like the equivalent of putting your kids in peewee football to keep them off the streets… Isn’t martial arts a very traditional art that places a lot of emphasis on a dojo and skill being passed down through ritual and apprenticeship?

          Also the mutagen experiments would have made more sense if Shredder had been trying to find a way to produce an army of super soldiers using the mutagen… the whole “immunity for chemical weapons” plot line made no sense… Super soldiers for his Yakuza-like gang to run New York, rather than… kill everyone in New York with chemical warfare? Just seemed like a random tangent…

  3. I’m actually okay with the big changes a cinematic adaptation makes from the source material. I know that no film can ever replace the awe and love and adoration I had for the 1990s animated Turtle show, which was a big part of me bein’ a kid and moving the action figures and pizza and that theme song. And any film adaptation shouldn’t ever try to replace it, or emulate it. In fact, the only thing it is reponsible for is to be a good movie on its own. The Dark Knight had a lot of changes from the Long Halloween, but both are immensely enjoyable and impactful for Batman in their own way.

    There are, of course, some needless changes. And April’s backstory does seem to be thrown in for no big reason. Foremost her connection to the turtles is unneeded as the idea of April growing fond of her new mutant pals was much more appealing than to have fate sort them all out. I have a serious problem with the sort of “chosen one” / fate / Jesus-blood storylines that seem to be Hollywood’s favourite concept of late, particulary of Orci/Kurtzman. And a lot of TMNT’s changes seem to feel that way. It’s typical Hollywood – Art being dished out as Product, and only some of the most successful filmmakers who manage to blur the two are the ones who are celebrated and loved.

    So each of the TMNT are representations of Renaissance painters? There you have it again: art as product in the source material. But the film takes it further by making Leo, Don, Raph and Mikey different versions of Russel Crowe, Old Spock, Clint Eastwood, and Bill Murray. In both cases it’s as if the guy writing this went on a fan-casting rampage and came up with our four radical mutants.

  4. there’s a video on youtube called what is bayhem from every frame a panting. it does a really good job of breaking down michael bay’s style and showing how the things that make him a good film maker also make him a bad one

  5. The Next TMNT movie will NOT reboot the whole thing again, it will give a Wrath of Khan/G.I. Joe Retaliation treatment by hiring the good writers and a good director to replace bad filmmaker Jonathan Liesberman and the writers to erase those mistakes that the TMNT movie had which led to criticism. one thing, recast Megan Fox because she’s being a bad April O’Neil.

    • it would be funny if they recast april jus like the 2nd film

  6. The origins were fine. I’m just disappointed there was no attempt to make you connect with the turtles and display their differences more. No time spent on Leo becoming the leader, Raphael going vigilante. Donatello building stuff. Monkey was probably the only one who actually got some time spent on him being him. Hopefully they will explore these more in a sequel.

    • Uh, who is Monkey?

  7. I had suspected out the gate that the origin story would follow a combination of IDW Publishing’s ongoing series as well as elements from the now airing Nick cartoon. Wo my suspicions were correct and this shouldn’t be horrible. I’ve been reeding the IDW series for a while and it’s a damn good read.

    • You are going to be horribly disappointed.

  8. Not a huge fan of the new origin but it kind of grew on me a little… Maybe how Urkel grew on the Winslows… It’s gonna take a while… I did enjoy the action and although splinter story was kinda weak HE DID HAVE A FIGHT SCENE!!! That gave the movie extra points for me .. Was it great?! Nah but it topped tmnt2 & the trailers alone beat 3 .. I just really hope we get some Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady, and my man Casey … And I missed Baxter on screen any help??

  9. What were the easter eggs again? This movie really didn’t have any in that department. Not unlike GoTG. This was a kids movie, but easter eggs could have been a good way to please the older fans.

  10. It seems like whoever wrote the movie is a big fan of Amazing Spiderman I mran yhe exact same threat to the city. Smdh then they have the turtles as red ear sliders when they are small but sachs calls them box turtles. Best part is they got Mikey spot on unlike the nick series that has him as an idiot.

  11. the movie didn’t suck because of bay or anything like that. the movie sucked because it made no sense, wasn’t interesting and have no plot and pointless 2d characters. i don’t have a problem with bay having his hands in this but the fact that this movie is poor and uninteresting is what sucks

  12. Just saw it tonight and I really enjoyed it. Loved the subtle pop culture hints which I thought were written well. Very humorous. My favorite homage was to the first live action movie. During the flashback when young Leo was slicing the pizza in midair and the last slice fell on splinter’s head. That was straight out of the original. I think I was the only one in the theater who got the joke though.

    I missed stockman as well. Where was he?

    • “I think I was the only one in the theater who got the joke though” i felt the same, i really only heard myself laugh at that from memory & others laughed cuz it was funny

    • Look for K. Todd Freeman in the movie, and you’ll find Baxter.

  13. Does anyone know what the japanese symbol means? Any help is appreciated

  14. So how did splinter become a sensei if he was a lab pet?

    In some versions he is the pet of Hamato Yoshi (who he copied his ninja skills from) in other versions he is Hamato Yoshi (explains his ninja skills).
    In this movie version, he is neither right?

    So how did splinter become a sensei if he was a lab pet?
    Just by reading a book as some comments say?