I know it’s silly, but I am legitimately enraged by the news that director Michael Bay is rewriting the origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one of my favorite cartoons when I was growing up. I know there are more important issues facing the world today: the ongoing debates over abortion and gay marriage, the fast-approaching presidential election, war in the Middle East and so on. But this is the issue that hits a very special part of my heart: my nostalgia.
Let’s get one thing clear: Michael Bay is allowed to do whatever he wants with this franchise. It is his movie, and he is allowed to take it in whatever direction he wants. If he wants to make it so the Ninja Turtles are aliens, that is his creative license, and that’s perfectly legal.
The problem I have is his seemingly indignant attitude toward the fans of the beloved Saturday morning cartoon and the original comic series. Here’s what he had to say about the re-imagining:
“When you see this movie, kids are going to believe one day these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie.”
What Bay fails to realize is that we loyal fans know this is a ridiculous premise, and that is why we love it. We’re talking about four turtles who after encountering a radioactive element known only as “Ooze” mutate into humanoid creatures who are then taken in by a rat (also mutated) who teaches them to be ninjas so they can protect their city. Oh, and they also love pizza.
If you’re not a fan of the series, none of this makes any sense whatsoever. In fact, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. And you’d be right to do so. Comic books are constantly starting fresh (just how many universes and reboots have Spider-Man and Batman had now?), and classic shows, games and even toys are being turned into blockbuster movies left and right. Kids these days are into different things, so mixing things up isn’t that big a deal, right?
Well, TMNT fans who have grown up and who want the legacy of one of their childhood favorites to live on want it to stay the way they remember it. Granted, a little updating certainly couldn’t hurt — after all, April O’Neil could really do with a change in wardrobe. And Bay did respond to the rampant criticism by saying, “We are including everything that made you become fans in the first place.”
But the way Bay’s third “Transformers” movie went, I’ll keep my doubts. And so will the rest of the Turtles’ lifelong fans.