When IDW Comics recently announced that many of its properties were going to be in a freewheeling shared universe — with GI JOE, M.A.S.K., the Transformers and others just bouncing into each other’s properties whenever they felt like it — there was one property conspicuously absent: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
And that’s weird, because the Turts have just recently shown us they can play very nicely with others in James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II’s Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which has an unbelievably heartwarming arc between Batman and Raphael. They’ve done another crossover or two over the years (including one with the Teen Titans), but there are plenty of comic book heroes and pop-culture stars from the 1980s and onward they’d be fun to play against. Whether in movie (however unlikely that is at the moment), TV episode, or comic-book form, here are the 12 TMNT Crossovers We’d Like To See.
12. The X-Men
The Turtles were conceived when the X-Men were cresting in popularity, and they have more in common with Marvel’s mightiest misfits than a stretchy definition of the word “mutant.” Raphael takes a lot of his wild-card, plays-by-his-own-rules attitude from Wolverine, Leonardo is the responsible “Cyclops,” Michelangelo the jovial Nightcrawler, and Donatello maps pretty closely to Beast… plenty of material there for a fight-then-team-up story.
Mostly, though, we’d like to see Magneto try to take these green-skinned “fellow mutants” under his wing so that Splinter can catch up on his reading, meditation and tea baths, while Raph and Mikey drive Magneto nuts even before they realize he’s evil.
11. The Penguins of Madagascar
This one’s especially unlikely, since the Penguins’ last feature film is likely to be their last feature film (it did all right at the box office, but larger troubles at Dreamworks meant it didn’t do well enough). But the Turtles could adapt well to their secret-agent shenanigans, and it’d be a hoot to watch Michelangelo actually trying to be a silent ninja.
And the Penguins’ moral relativism — the way they’re as likely to break into Fort Knox to grab a snack as to save the world — means they could spend a TV episode or even an entire movie racing the Turtles to obtain the Ultimate Anchovy. Leo would have to envy the discipline and focus the Skipper’s drilled into his crew, just a little.
10. Iron Man
As you can see from the accompanying video, the Turtles’ 2014 movie reboot has already borrowed more than a little from Marvel’s first fully Marvel-owned movie, so why not take that further and pair up Obadiah Stane with Eric Sacks? Stane’s greater technical wizardry could give the Turtles some trouble, while Sacks’s…um…okay, Sacks’ connections with the Shredder and the Foot Clan could allow him to hit Tony Stark out of costume, where he wasn’t expecting it.
And sure, Stane is sort of dead, but who really stays dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, anyway? Not that the Turtles are any better about that: Shredder died in their first movie and the first issue of their comic, but nobody even remembers.
9. Spider-Man (and the Lizard)
Among Marvel’s sewer-dwelling characters, none is more tragic than the Lizard, a biochemist whose experiments have made him a monster in body and (usually) in mind. Among his powers are the ability to control the “lizard brains” of others, making humans into wild animals and reptiles into slaves.
Against such an opponent, the Turtles and Spider-Man might be as much of a danger as a help to each other, but the Turtles can’t back down from a threat to their home and Spidey will never stop taking responsibility for his old enemy. This would have some darker moments than many of the crossovers on this list, but you know it’d also have plenty of wisecracks.
Michael Bay’s other crowd-pleasing, critic-defying franchise could certainly be mashed together with the film Turtles for even bigger explosions, but we’d really like to see the IDW comics do this one, as they’ve taken both the TMNT and the T-formers to some very interesting places.
In fact, from recent issues of the comic, you’ve got some instant conflict: Optimus Prime has recently decided to take the Earth into “protective custody,” and if you don’t know what a nice and laid-back kind of guy he is, that sounds a lot like a military coup. The Turtles have been fighting interplanetary and interdimensional battles since before Krang showed up, so what’s one more?
7. Jackie Chan
Sadly, at 62, the old master of martial arts slapstick is just too old to do the kind of stunts he did in the 20th century, the ones that helped inspire the Turtles’ own insane acrobatics. But he still has a wonderful comic flair, and works well in a sensei role, so how about this time he plays an evil one?
Imagine “Jackmeister C,” the wacky sensei to a group of serious-minded evil martial artists moving in on the Turtles’ and the Foot’s domain, reversing the goofy Turtles’ own dynamic with their reserved Master Splinter. Ultimately, Leonardo would realize that the only way to anticipate Jackmeister C’s moves is to call on the one Turtle who can think like him, temporarily – and with gritted teeth – putting Michelangelo in charge of the group.
6. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
The franchise has a lot in common with the Turtles: butt-kicking, color-coding, endless variations in a decades-long TV history, and best of all, the exact same rhythm in their names, which means the MMPR fit right into the TMNT’s original theme song: “TEEN-age MU-tant NIN-ja TUR-tles, MIGH-ty MOR-phin POW-er RAN-gers, NIN-ja TUR-tles, POW-er RAN-gers, heroes from the Nineties! Morphin power!”
Something like this actually has happened in the offbeat, non-morphin’ Power Rangers: In Space series and in an online game from Nickelodeon, but for those who want to see the Turtles combine into a supergiant Turtlebot, the dream lives on.
5. Kung Fu Panda
A little thing like belonging to an entirely different continent and century never stopped the Turtles from teaming up with Usagi Yojimbo, and they certainly wouldn’t hesitate to hang out with Po. He may love food as much as they do, but his tastes run more to noodles, dumplings and bean buns than pizza, so that’s one source of conflict averted.
One difference between them is that Po has grown up a lot over the last few films, becoming as much of a Splinter as a Michelangelo, while the TMNT are always teenagers (again, it’s in the name – there’s a lot of information in there!). While Donatello would be fascinated to learn more about the China of the past, Po might have more to teach them about their own future.
It begins with a race between oversized, tricked-out vans — the Turtle Van vs. the Mystery Machine — as both teams are road-tripping it cross-country. They stop in a creepy, haunted-looking hotel (with the Scooby gang quickly shrugging off the Turtles’ appearances), but as the night drags on, something strange is there to meet them…what seems to be the ghost of Splinter’s old owner, disappointed in his spiritual descendants (but is actually the Shredder, using this ruse to demoralize the Turtles and remove them as an obstacle).
Of course, this plan is right in the Scooby gang’s wheelhouse, but they’ll need the Turtles’ fighting prowess to overcome all the Foot “ghosts,” and they’ll first need to remind the Turtles that sometimes there can be honor in running away.
3. Powerpuff Girls
Sometimes boys and girls seem to occupy totally different worlds, and New York City seems to be a long way from the City of Townsville. But when the two diabolical big brains, Mojo Jojo and Krang, pool their resources to develop a brain-switching device, the body-swapped Turtles and Powerpuff Girls (Leonardo with Blossom, Michelangelo with Bubbles, Raphael with Buttercup, Donatello with Professor Utonium) will have to get through a typical day as each other until Don and the Professor can reverse-engineer a way out.
Considering that a “typical day” for them often involves battling supervillains, they could wreck Krang and Mojo Jojo’s equipment without even realizing it’s what swapped them. But no matter what happens, the animal lover Bubbles will be happy to meet Splinter. So much pettable fur!
What if there were a world where the Turtles looked just like everyone else? Would they still be ninjas if they didn’t have to hide, and if a surprisingly competent police department was fully able to handle Rocksteady and Bebop? Michelangelo could open a pizza place and Donatello could intern for a tech firm. Raphael always expects to be the misfit wherever the Turtles go, but Zootopia has several resources to help him deal with that anger of his: Splinter might talk him into joining the nudist meditation center.
It’s really Leo who’d have the most trouble fitting in: he’d be a force for law and order but not really cut out to be a cop, and a leader without any followers. Until Bebop and Rocksteady’s bosses come find them, that is…
As longtime (or widely read) Turtle fans know, in their first origin story, the canister of chemicals that blinded Matt Murdock and left him with super-powers kept bouncing and struck a glass case in which a man was carrying his four pet turtles. As Splinter later told his charges, “You fell into the manhole, followed by the canister… [which] smashed open, releasing a glowing ooze which covered your bodies as you crawled around in it,” mutating them and the curious Splinter (whose name is also a tribute to Daredevil’s mentor, Stick).
That’s a pretty prolific can of chemicals, and both Daredevil and the Turtles have faced foes who have tried to re-create them to mutate an army of Daredevils or animal warriors. Of course, none of them have really actually succeeded…though a Foot Clan of Daredevils might be a force to be reckoned with.
Any ideas for crossovers we missed? Any crossovers we listed that you’d do differently? The comments, as ever, are at your disposal!
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