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He Likes it – Reflections on Kevin Eastman’s Endorsement of Bay’s “Ninja Turtles”

On July 15th, Steven Smith from MTV Geek sat down with Kevin Eastman at Comic-con in San Diego and learned some surprising news: Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is actually excited for Bay’s reimagining of the fearsome foursome’s origins.

He describes the upcoming film as “…the best Turtle movie yet,” and praises the anticipated “Raid: Redemption style fight scenes,” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes…sort of effects,” which paints a pretty clear picture of this upcoming film as a more straight-up action movie than previous cinematic offerings.

Kevin Eastman @ Comic Con 2012

Eastman also notes that much-discussed pushback date (from 2013 to 2014) was essentially a marketing decision by Paramount studios, since 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the TMNT franchise, and has nothing to do with fan feedback regarding the (again, much discussed) changes to the Turtle’s origin story.

These comments sync reasonably well with Peter Laird’s at-best-lukewarm comments on his blog (at http://peterlairdstmntblog.blogspot.com), to wit: “It’s possible that with enough truly creative brainpower applied to this idea, it might actually work. I’m not saying it’s probable, or even somewhat likely… but it IS possible.”

Arguably, this is back-handed praise: when one co-creator coos over the anticipated choreography and visual effects, and another lumps an idea that “…might actually work…” in with criticisms of such “execrable” changes to the story line as the introduction of Venus de Milo in the live-action series, it doesn’t speak glowingly of the franchise’s direction.  Taken together, it reads as though Eastman and Laird are going out of their way to not directly disparage the upcoming reimagining, while only Eastman gives the film a cautious endorsement.

Taking a wider view, however, let’s note that in the same interview, Eastman praises Marvel comics’ tendency towards re-invention as witnessed in The Avengers (and by proxy we may assume The Amazing Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, etc.), and seems to imply that the same thing could work for TMNT.  He says (regarding classic and iconic comic properties): “…every person who’s grown up inspired by that material wants to put their stamp on it a little bit,” suggesting that in the American cultural tradition, according to Eastman, Michael Bay is entitled to have his go at the Turtles’ mythology.

We fans might also be well served remembering that there are already various and contradictory stories in place for a number of characters, including the Turtles themselves.  While it seems that almost every TMNT fan is vehemently opposed to this proposed new direction, you would probably be hard-pressed to find three Turtle fans who could agree on exactly which Turtle origin story should replace it: Mirage comics?  1988 series?  Playmates toys’ back-of-the-blister-pack comic story?  We’ve got options here.

Perhaps, if we really want to assuage our misgivings, we might even think of this movie as an exploration of an alternate “Turtleverse” a la Turtles Forever.  In any case it seems we’re going to have to swallow our “chill pills,” because nobody has firmly and irrefutably said “no” to the alien origin story. We may have to watch the movie for its hopefully incredible action and effects, and just put our fingers in our ears and sing “T.U.R.T.L.E. Power” while the new origin scenes play out.

The Author

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior is an author and English professor at Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana. His short stories have been published around the world, and he has two non-fiction books in print. He has contributed articles to several different sites, and has been a fan of the turtles since he was two years old, and his favorite ninja turtle is Raphael.

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