Although we just heard Kevin Eastman re-assuring us that Michael Bay and Jonathan Liebesman's new TMNT movie was alright, it would appear that his friend and co-creator isn't too happy with what he has seen. To be fair, this is nothing new, as Laird and Eastman have frequently had disagreements about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the past. In other words, it shouldn't come as a shock that one of the creators of the Ninja Turtles is pleased but the other is not so happy. That being said, some of the concerns voiced by Laird are similar to the concerns voiced by many fans of the franchise.
In an interview with ComicBookMovie.com, Laird had the following to say anout the design of the turtles in the new movie:
“It may just be a personal preference of mine — and one informed by twenty-five years with the Turtles as co-creator working on those green dudes — but the extra "stuff" added to the Turtles' outfits just seems extraneous to me, and a bit silly in spots (I mean, thin bamboo armor for a Turtle's shell?). Maybe it will work, but right now, I don't see it. I prefer the simpler versions.”
Yup, Peter Laird just referenced his 25 years of experience with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when calling out the design of the new turtles. Like many fans, he believes the added flair is unnecessary and doesn't really add anything to their design. In addition, he went on to discuss some of the fan made changes revealed via Reddit, which gave the turtles back their characteristic beak:
“It's interesting, and well done, and I think it points up one of the big problems (for me, anyway) with the new look created for the upcoming movie — with those noses and very expressive lips, their faces look too human. Perhaps it is just my own personal preference, but the "noseless beak" look for the Turtles which Kevin and I used in all of our comics, and in pretty much all of the licensed material during the Mirage days (and which was really there from the very beginning, when Kevin drew that first "ninja turtle") is, in my opinion, a great way to immediately show that these guys are not human — they're mutated reptiles. Creatures.
Of course, I could be wrong about the new design — maybe in the context of the movie, it will work fine. From what I have seen so far, it is an excellent example of state-of-the-art character CGI. Perhaps it will become more popular than the noseless style which was used for the first twenty-five years. I guess we'll have to wait and see.”
While he ultimately comes to the conclusion that we should wait and see what comes of these design changes, it's pretty clear that he feels some of these changes simply aren't necessary. He once again returns to the turtles origin for inspiration, stating that they have always looked a certain way and it doesn't necessarily make sense to change that. Laird is ultimately supportive of the film, as he stated earlier in the interview when asked about the involvement of April's father and the possible origin change in the film:
“I can't quite fathom your reasoning here. What does one have to do with the other? Why couldn't April be an investigative reporter while at the same time her father is colluding with the Shredder? I don't see these elements as being mutually exclusive.
That being said, I am not sure there is enough revealed so far to allow a conclusive judgement on what connection, exactly, there is between what the Shredder (with or without the involvement of April's father) is doing and how the Turtles became mutated. Something is suggested, but it is not entirely clear what.
I do have to say that my gut reaction to having what MIGHT be such a close connection between April and her father and the Shredder and the Turtles's origin is that I am not crazy about it. However, I am open to being surprised by a plot which makes that odd (to me) twist make sense. I guess we'll see if it does when the movie opens.”
Laird also went on to talk about The Shredder's involvement with the creation of the turtles. It's clear that he's not necessarily happy with what he's seen so far, but he's still hopeful foir the best:
“I think you are perhaps making some unwarranted assumptions about what the Shredder is doing, because the very brief snippets of dialogue released so far do not — to me, at least — necessarily lead to that conclusion. For one thing, is it the "civilian identity" of the Shredder (in our comics, and in the animated 2003 series, for example, that "civilian identity" would be Oroku Saki — I don't know what he is called in this new movie) speaking to April… or is it the "evil ninja clan leader identity"? Depending on which one it is, the meaning of his words could take on quite a different nature. Is he lying, or telling the truth?”
He makes an excellent point here, as we really don't know what The Shredder's motivation is in the scene we have seen in the trailer. He is known for being a lying, manipulative and downright evil character, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he could be lying about creating the turtles, as he did in the original series when he told the turtles themselves that he had intentionally created them. Of course, the Ninja Turtles didn't buy that story then, so maybe we shouldn't buy it now.
In the end, Laird made one statement which perfectly reflects the possible issues of an origin change such as this:
“I have always found that accidental, somewhat random series of events culminating in the creation of the TMNT to be a significant part of the charm of the story. Somehow, retconning it to make their origin the result of deliberate action seems like a mistake. However, perhaps the writers have found a clever way to make this seems more palatable. We'll have to watch the movie to find out.”
Even in this case, the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had to admit that he didn't know enough to say for sure whether the possible change would be a good thing or a bad thing. He remains hopeful that the writers found a way to make it work, if in fact that is what the trailer revealed. However, he is also concerned about a change from an accidental creation story to an intentional one, as are many Shellheads out there.
Laird's final comment was once again focusing on the new design of the turtles, offering a stern warning and a reminder of what could have been possible had the creators of TMNT signed off on it so long ago:
“When I watched that trailer for the first time, and came to that bit near the end where Michelangelo takes off his bandana, revealing his full face to April, complete with human-looking nose, I immediately flashed back to the early days, back in 1984 or 1985 when we were living in Sharon, CT and just beginning to take steps into the world of licensing the TMNT. It was during that time that we received a letter from a small movie company — I think it was New World — offering us a deal to do a live-action TMNT movie, wherein they suggested that the way to go was to choose some (at that point in time) "hot" young comedians, dress them up in Turtle costumes, but leave their faces bare… except for a layer of green paint, so their zany comic expressions could be easily visible.
As you probably know, we turned that one down. Remember, this was well before the first animated TMNT series was even a glimmer in anyone's eye. It's intriguing to contemplate what the history of the TMNT might have been had we accepted that first live-action movie offer.”
What do you think? Is Laird right to be concerned about the new movie? Whether you agree or not, feel free to sound off in our forums or in the comments below.