I’m going to start this by talking about my relationship with X-Men. Why? Because I think it’s a good foundation for what I really want to talk about. You see, despite the fact I’ve read no more than fifteen issues of any of the comic book series, I consider myself an X-Men fan. I’ve seen all of the cartoons (even that horrible X-Men: Evolution) except the most recent one (and seriously bummed to be missing Steve Blum playing Wolverine. That has got to rock!), and I’ve seen all of the movies. I’d have hated the thought of missing any of them (and I do hate that I don’t have access to Wolverine and the X-Men). And I’ve read just enough to understand what Stan Lee was hoping to achieve with the series.
But every time a new cartoon or movie appears, I get to listen to friends who have read most, if not all, of the comics argue and scream about how botched storylines and characters are. I feel for them. Books adapted to movies drive me up the wall more often than not. But I also know Lee is right there as these cartoons and movies are being made, and he’s saying, “This is okay.” It’s really hard to get uptight when the creator himself is saying the adaptation is fine. (This is not to be confused with George Lucas’ failure to understand that he revolutionized special effects thirty-five years ago and feels it’s better to destroy his own trailblazing past than continue to blaze forward.)
Anyway, I tell you about my past and my feelings toward X-Men and its various adaptations because it’s been running through my head a lot lately. And for this, I need to make a confession: I found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles highly annoying in high school. It was too campy for me, and I wanted to slap April. But I regularly babysat a little boy who fancied himself Raphael, so I’d tie on a purple bandana, grab a broom, and help him kick an imaginary Shredder’s bum. I didn’t miss having to be a turtle when his family moved away. When the series rebooted several years ago, I had no desire to go anywhere near it…right up until I learned Wayne Grayson was playing Michaelangelo, and I just had to hear that! I ended up watching the entire series, and I now miss having it around. Especially because I think it could help clarify something.
By now, I’m pretty sure everybody has either heard or seen jokes about Michael Bay’s intended adaptation for the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I know I have. Fans hate something they love being messed with, and most feel that Bay’s intent to turn the turtles into aliens is just going too far. There are a few problems with the fan reaction, though. The first is that, from what I’ve read, Bay’s intent was never to turn the turtles themselves into aliens. It was to make their origins alien, and as one of the writers has pointed out, we are told at one point that the ooze that mutated the turtles to begin with is of alien origin (and I seem to think I’ve seen that story in the rebooted cartoon). This is not actually a change. Even better, the writer in question is friends with Kevin Eastman, who has seen part of the script and been fine with it. Even better than that, Peter Laird drew an alien turtle for the writers after he heard what was going on.
Eastman and Laird, the creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are onboard with this project. Maybe the rest of us should chill out and trust they aren’t going to let their own work be misrepresented. (Seriously, how many creators could truly end up with Konietzko and DiMartino’s bad luck?)