For months, fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been hit with one head-scratching piece of information after another - as producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) prepared a live-action reboot of the iconic comic book (and later cartoon) characters. Of course, fan frustration with movie adaptations is par for the course in Hollywood but, this time, significant alterations had been proposed - most notably the choice to drop "Teenage" and "Mutant" from the Turtles' background.
The alteration to the origin story, which repositioned the Ninja Turtles as dimension-hopping aliens, drew criticisms from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird and became a go-to point of contention whenever new TMNT news broke. However, a yet-to-be-confirmed rumor suggests that, after the film was delayed, the filmmakers may have added TM back into the NT.
The report comes from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan-site TMNT Lair, who claim that when Paramount showed-off Star Trek into Darkness as well as Pain and Gain footage a few days ago at CinemaCon, the studio also presented a new Ninja Turtles logo - which allegedly read "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
As mentioned, at this point, the rumor is unconfirmed - so take this report with a major grain of salt for now. At the time of this writing, no official or unofficial photo of the logo is available for confirmation. Not to mention, it's hard to imagine that countless industry reporters in-house for the presentation wouldn't have noticed the logo change (especially since the Ninja Turtles title has been such a hot-button issue). Nevertheless, since Star Trek was headlining the event, a new Ninja Turtles logo was nothing more than a fleeting moment in the presentation. It is possible that only a few people made the connection - and no one thought to snag a picture.
We'll keep an eye out for an official update but, assuming the rumor is true, it certainly lends credence to comments from recently cast Raphael actor Alan Ritchson (Aquaman on Smallville) who suggested that, with regard to the Ninja Turtles film, "everything you read online is wrong." It's certainly possible that, following backlash to the Ninja Turtles titling, Bay and Liebesman, along with writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Procotol), used added time during the delay to make cosmetic script changes and reincorporate elements that would have been sticking points for longtime fans.
That said, even if "Teenage" and "Mutant" are back in the title (and part of the Turtles' personalities), it doesn't mean that the dimension-traveling aliens angle is entirely out of the picture. An equally possible scenario: the Turtles are teenagers, mutants, and ninjas, but might still be aliens from another dimension. Meaning, their mutation (and possibly their ninja training) could occur prior to arriving on Earth - even if they still identify as TMNT. Bay recently debunked the legitimacy of a leaked script, which followed Casey Jones as the main protagonist and positioned the Turtles as members of an alien race, but just because that treatment isn't in play doesn't mean that the alternate dimension backstory isn't still true.
Remember, long before the Ninja Turtles title debate, Bay summed up his Turtles like this:
“These turtles [in the reboot] are from an alien race, and they’re going to be tough, edgy, funny, and completely lovable.”
Later, he asserted that the title change was a marketing move by Paramount:
"Paramount marketing changed the name. They made the title simple. The characters you all remember are exactly the same, and yes they still act like teenagers. Everything you remember, why you liked the characters, is in the movie."
As a result, the likelihood is that the core alien race backstory has always remained the same, with only slight alterations for the sake of simplicity (removing Teenage and Mutant) and then, later, fan service (by reinstating Teenage and Mutant). It's important to note that appeasing fans might not even be the main reason for changing the title - considering the on-going success of cartoon series titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After all, Paramount will want to make the connection clear to children who watch the current Nick TV series.
Still, longtime Turtle lovers will likely be split on whether a possible new TMNT logo is welcome news or nothing more than semantics - some took issue with the non-Ooze origin story and others balked at the idea of Ninja Turtles that were not outright Teenage and Mutant. Now, it's sounding increasingly as if these Ninja Turtles will adhere to the personalities of the fan-favorite cartoon/comic characters, but may not follow the established backstory.
That is, assuming that the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles logo from CinemaCon is even real. We'll be sure to provide an update when (and if) we hear something official.
Ninja Turtles hits theaters June 6th, 2014.
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