[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows]
When a comic book property is adapted to the big screen, there are many masters to be served: the fans who will be their on release day regardless, the casual moviegoer pulled in by marketing, those intrigued by the talents behind it... the list goes on and on. But in the case of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, it isn't just the comic book source material the filmmakers have to address, but the many animated and live-action adaptation of it that helped propel the brand to pop culture phenomenon.
Thankfully, that means just as many opportunities for the filmmakers to pay homage to what came before, and include references and details put there by fans, for fans. Out of the Shadows has as many easter eggs, cameos and hidden details as the original, but they may be harder to spot - especially when there's a seven-foot-tall warthog and rhino added into the action. Luckily, we're here to make sure fans don't miss a beat.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our list of Ninja Turtles Easter Eggs, so you have been warned.
17. Paramount Logo
It may not be a traditional "hidden easter egg," but by taking the detail game to the studio title cards, the work of the team's digital artists has to be praised. The Paramount Pictures logo gets the ninja treatment, with the many stars replaced with the throwing variety, showing no element of the film is too precious to soak in martial arts fun. We would hope every audience member could appreciate the alteration, but in the event that it passed some by, consider yourselves schooled.
16. "Thanks Kevin, See You Next Week!"
As the Turtles make their way toward Madison Square Gardens in the opening sequence, they make sure to pick up a pizza on the way. A pizza, it just so happens, that's waiting for them on a street corner, with the delivery man not flinching as the pie is swiped from his hands by airborne ninja reptiles. The assumption that he's used to the deal is confirmed when Mikey calls out the above phrase, identifying the man in question as "Kevin." That's Kevin Eastman, one of the creators of the characters (who has been a bit more supportive of the modern reboot than his partner, Peter Laird).
15. Transformers Nod
When Mikey takes the chance to come out of the shadows and take part in New York's Halloween parade, it doesn't take long for him to find an admirer - an admirer in costume, that is. The rolling cardboard vehicle soon transformers into Bumblebee, the bright yellow mascot of Michael Bay's Transformers movie series. It's a clear nod to producer Bay's other property (as promised in our interview with producer Brad Fuller), even featuring the 'transformation' sound effect from the original series.
14. Baxter Stockman's Famous Future?
After appearing in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in the original Ninja Turtles reboot (played by K. Todd Freeman) the character of Dr. Baxter Stockman makes a far larger splash in the sequel. With Tyler Perry in the role, the doc's... strange personality and motivations take center stage, but there's a good chance some casual fans may not know his true place in Turtles lore. The science in the film isn't related to his famous Mouser Robots, but when the main plot's ties to animal/human genetic manipulation, there's no question fans were hoping to see him achieve his true destiny: as a humanoid fly. Sadly, no such luck.
13. Splinter Throwbacks
People may have doubted that the digital artists behind the Ninja Turtles reboot could actually create a realistic take on a giant, walking, talking rat, but they did - and the results were probably too realistic for their own good. So it's no surprise that in the sequel, Splinter's style is softened, given a fuzzier, greyer look than the oily, off-putting original version. Don't look too far for the inspiration: the switch from authentic Japanese robes to brown, tattered ones makes the connection to the previous live-action Splinter pretty clear.
12. The Turtle Van - Revisited
When it comes time for the entire gang to hit the streets to keep Shredder from escaping his prisoner transport, they turn to one beefed-up vehicle: a kitted-out garbage truck, complete with some unforgettable tech courtesy of Donatello. The 'Turtle Van'/'Battle Shell'/'Battle Wagon' has been a famous toy in nearly every incarnation, from one animated series or comic to the next. This time around, the famous manhole-cover-shooter of the toys (the darker, grittier successor to the famed pizza shooter) is even adapted entirely (with devastating results).
11. The Tartaruga Brothers
Fans of the mid-2000s animated series might have expected to see the garbage truck bear the title of 'Tortuga Brothers' (a hidden message, considering that "tortuga" is Spanish for turtle or tortoise), but in the live-action film, it's the 'Tartaruga' Brothers who get the credit. It's the same joke over again, since "tartaruga" also means turtle or tortoise in both Portuguese and Italian.
10. Foot Stinks!
The inside of the vehicle's ride probably contains dozens of hidden or barely-visible details and references, but one that can be seen clearly is the sign informing the occupants that "Foot (Clan) Stinks" - a concise, if immature shot taken at Shredder's ninja footsoldiers. The entire sign is a recreation of the sticker included in many Ninja Turtles toy sets, usually seen stuck to the side of their van or truck. Apparently, the filmmakers decided having a giant "Foot Stinks" sticker on the exterior of the truck didn't quite fit the tone.
9. Casey Jones' License Plate
After Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) watches Shredder escape custody - and is taken out by his soon-to-be muscle - the audience gets to see that his own set of wheels proves he's got muscle outside of his shirt. The Dodge Hellcat Challenger's license plate may be more interesting, since it bears the message "MIRAGE84" - a pretty blatant reference to Mirage Comics, the publishing label founded by the creators, and 1984, the year the very first issue of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" hit store shelves.
8. The TCRI "Ooze"
The return of TCRI Laboratories to the movies was one hotly-debated point from the reboot - whether fans knew they were debating it or not. You see, the initials, as they appeared in the source material, stood for Techno Cosmic Research Institute. "Cosmic" because it was created and run by alien beings in hiding (Utroms, usually shown as pink brains inside robotic bodies). In the previous series of live-action films, the moniker was changed to TGRI ("Techno Global") to remove the alien origins of the "ooze" which mutated the turtles. The reboot returned the "cosmic" acronym (despite outrage over the idea that the heroes' origin would, as always, be alien) but in this film, the glowing (purple) substance is referred to as "ooze," in keeping with the source material.
7. Donnie's Gadgets
We learned with the first film that some extra attention should be paid to the gadgets and junk making up the Turtles' outfits and equipment, and their updated/simplified designs this time around keep the tradition alive. While we may not know how honestly Donatello came by his set of purple Beats by Dre headphones, we can assume that the Super Nintendo controller strapped to his forearm came from an aging gamer.
6. Leonardo, The Thief?
As further evidence that repeat viewings will be needed to catch every detail and implies story literally woven into the Turtles, even Leonardo seems to have some sticky fingers. At least he didn't put his stealth thieving skills to use on electronic accessories, but on a New York street sign of pretty recognizable nature. Since he lost the NYC button stuck to his strap in the previous film, we suppose he found another way to make his love for the Empire State visible.
5. Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go
It was too much to hope for that the filmmakers would find room for a cameo from Vanilla Ice - after his memorable appearance and debut of "Ninja Rap" in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) - but the rapper does make an appearance of sorts. When Casey Jones follows the footsteps of Bebop and Rocksteady, "Ice Ice Baby" can be heard playing on a bar's jukebox... moments before Casey smashes it, and the bar to get some answers.
4. A Familiar Watering Hole
Speaking of that bar, there's a good chance it will look very familiar to comic book fans keeping up on modern adaptations. The bar is a very real East Village watering hole: Vazacs Horseshoe Bar (also known as 'The Horseshoe Bar,' or '7B' for its address). Besides being used for several TV and movie productions, the location was recently used for Luke Cage's bar in Marvel's Jessica Jones Netflix series. Since the Ninja Turtles takes most of its fiction from parodies of Marvel's Daredevil (The Hand/Foot, Stick/Splinter, shared 'chemical' origin), it seems only fitting that a location in the MCU should feature so prominently in their own.
3. The Hockey Stick
When Casey is forced to don his hockey mask and wield a hockey stick to come to April O'Neil's defense, he shows he can do some real damage in a fight. But where most hockey fans would assume his stick is an Eastwood (a very real brand), it's actually an Eastman - yet another nod to the creator of the character. It isn't this film which gets to claim the easter egg alone, though, since it was a twist on the hockey stick brand first implemented with the version of Casey Jones in the 2012 TMNT animated series.
2. "Renet Tilley"
When April (Megan Fox) and Casey hatch their plan to infiltrate police headquarters and extract the purple ooze from evidence, they require some help from Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett). Vern's role is to upload a program for Donatello to give April and Casey clearance under false names. April's is shown to be "Renet Tilley" - a reference that won't be missed by diehard comic fans. In the original story, Renet was a time traveler who wound up working with the Turtles. Thankfully, it's only her name that's adapted, not the time travel lore she brought with her.
1. They're From "New Hampshire"
Once Casey and April are caught and taken in for questioning, the answers all boil down to one: who, or what were the giant talking green men working alongside them in stealing the ooze? Casey offers a throwaway answer, but it's one of the movie's best easter eggs for fans. The revelation that the Turtles came "from New Hampshire" may work as an aloof line, but since Mirage Comics, and the Turtles really were created in Dover, New Hampshire.
Those are the easter eggs, secrets and tiny touches we spotted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but be sure to let us know which ones we've overlooked, and we'll keep updating the list as more and more secrets are uncovered.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows runs 112 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. Now playing in regular and 3D theaters. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Spoilers Discussion.
For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check back soon for our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows episode of the Total Geekall podcast.