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Mutant Mailcall: Will We Ever See Another Dark TMNT Movie?

Every now and then I get fan mail with questions about our beloved heroes in a half shell. Some of these questions are so interesting that I figured it would make for a good series of articles. With that in mind, let’s take a look at our first question from JD:

“Since our beloved TMNT universe is SOOOOO vast with characters and different takes on our boys in green, could another studio come along (once they get the rights) and make a darker tmnt film? Or even Tales of TMNT? Or even a spinoff?”

Excellent question, JD!

Although many fans would tell you that the 1990 TMNT movie was probably the darkest version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that we’ll ever see adapted to film, I have reason to believe that this might not be the case. As you rightly noted, there have been a plethora of different interpretations of the turtles, and that should be proof enough that anything is possible. Even going back to the original Mirage comics, it strikes me that creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird both used the property initially as a means to explore several different crazy ideas they had rattling around in their brains.

The first splash page for  Eastman & Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Source: Mirage Studios.
The first splash page for Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Source: Mirage Studios.

Whether it was taking previously unsuccessful characters like Fugitoid and bringing them back to life with the help of four mutant turtles, or taking Mikey back to feudal Japan for a crazy little adventure fighting against Samurai, there were several examples of the turtles going beyond their own stories and exploring entirely new worlds and ideas. In other words, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has always been a property ripe with potential for a variety of different interpretations, so it’s absolutely possible that we could see a dark TMNT movie either in theaters or on television at some point in the future.

Just a year or two ago, we were approached about our thoughts on the potential for a darker Ninja Turtles television series that would have been aimed at adults. The idea was to show the turtles as adults, a concept that has since been given life by a short film. We have seen similar ideas for a dark TMNT movie come and go, and I suspect they have been rejected mostly because the studios involved have been uninterested in taking that approach with the franchise. That being said, there are new platforms for visual entertainment today that allow for the kind of freedom that would probably be necessary in order to create a dark TMNT movie or even television series.

The platforms I am speaking about are VOD services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. All of these companies have been investing quite a bit of money into developing films and television series that their subscribers will enjoy. The main goal of these services is to acquire and retain subscribers, whereas the goal of a major studio is muddied by advertisers, merchandising, and viewership. If Netflix produces a show or movie that a lot of people enjoy, it doesn’t matter if the viewership is 100,000 or 1 million – as long as those viewers remain subscribers, the show could be considered a success.

I mention all of this because I think it could be the perfect environment for a darker, more serious interpretation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s always a chance that Paramount and Platinum Dunes will try to aim their films at a different market, but I highly doubt that will be happening anytime soon. If you’re wondering where our best hope for a dark TMNT movie lies, you need look no further than services like Netflix. I’m not sure what it would take to convince Viacom to work with Netflix or Amazon to make this happen, but it’s entirely possible.

The latest TMNT movie series isn't very dark, and some fans aren't happy with that. Image Source: Paramount Pictures
The latest TMNT movie series isn’t very dark, and some fans aren’t happy with that. Image Source: Paramount Pictures

In a world where Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have all been given their own series, I have to believe it is possible that we could see a dark Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series as well. Sadly, it will probably be a while before anything like this actually comes to fruition. All we can do now is to hope, send positive vibes, and let all of the major players know that we are interested in a darker interpretation of the TMNT!

What do you think? Will we ever see another dark TMNT movie or television series? Could a service like Netflix or Amazon Studios work with Paramount and Viacom to make this a reality? Would you be interested in seeing a darker Ninja Turtles property on the market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on facebook/twitter.

Oh, and don’t hesitate to send us fan mail with questions of your own. Who knows? Your question could be the next one featured on Mutant Mailcall!

The Author

Justin W

Justin W

My name is Justin Wren and I love to write about the TMNT! I've been a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan since the late 80's. Back then, I would watch the original animated series and play with the Playmates toys all the time. I have been following the boys ever since I was a kid, and I'm very happy to see them back in the limelight after all these years. Needless to say, I'm proud to be a member of the team on this awesome TMNT Fan Site!

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