Though it doesn’t feel that long, it has already been seven years since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles last graced the silver screen. But despite being one of the best theatrical instalments in the long-running franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) failed to bring in the green cheddar at the box office, and so a sequel was never green-lit.
That all changed a couple of years ago, of course, when Paramount Pictures announced a number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film projects. While the 2016 film didn’t impress financially, everyone’s favorite, pizza-munching reptiles aren’t going anywhere, as they continue to be as popular as they were during their mid-eighties-to-mid-nineties heyday.
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So it came as no real surprise when Paramount confirmed two upcoming separate theatrical projects, along with a number of “villain-focused” films heading for streaming service Paramount+. One of those silver screen flicks is titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023), and it comes from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
Unlike the other reboot, which we know nothing about other than the fact that the script is being penned by Saturday Night Live Writers (and brothers) Colin Jost and Casey Jost, Mutant Mayhem is actually an animated project, whose style will apparently be very similar to that of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).
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In fact, there’s quite a bit we already know about Mutant Mayhem, which mostly revolves around the Turtles themselves — Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello — and how the film will focus more on the “teenage” aspect of these characters, more so than any other iteration has in the past, be it films, comic, or cartoon.
Mutant Mayhem will be the seventh theatrical move in the franchise, following Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), TMNT (2007), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
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But unlike any of its predecessors (none of which are in any way canon with the new film), the upcoming reboot is set to draw inspiration from a certain video game series. However, while there have been several Ninja Turtles video games over the decades, Mutant Mayhem is actually, in part, inspired by the widely popular Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series.
In an interview with Jason Ellis and Tony Hawk himself on their Hawk vs. Wolf podcast, producer Seth Rogen talked about how the film draws a ton of inspiration from the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk and the games he inspired. Rogen talked about how Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello all skateboard in the film, and how it features music from those games.
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Here’s what he said in full:
“They do skate, actually, and what’s funny is we were having a call with the music supervisor because we were pretty far along on it, and there’s a lot of music in it, and they’re like, ‘The music doesn’t go together. It goes together but in a weird way. How would you describe it?’ And our director was like, ‘I kind of describe it as what you would kind of hear playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.’
It’s like a random assortment of music, kind of, but it all fits together perfectly. It kind of has that same energy and spirit, but it’s like very similar, and there are literally some songs that are from like the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It’s amazing, it’s really cool, and it’s fully animated, and it comes out in August, and it’s incredible. I’m really psyched about it.”
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Seth Rogen previously described Mutant Mayhem as being a “deeply personal” film. From everything we’ve learned so far, such as journal excerpts and bios, and now the reveal that the Turtles will, to no real surprise, skateboard in the film, it sounds like it will certainly lean heavily into the teenage aspect of the characters.
Unfortunately, though, the chances of the film being in any way geared towards a more adult audience are very unlikely. For starters, it’s animated, and every animated TMNT entry so far has been created for younger audiences.
While Seth Rogen, who is best known for starring in adult comedy, is in the producer’s chair, Mutant Mayhem will be anything like the very adult animated film Sausage Party (2016) — this, of course, is a good thing. But is it time for something different?
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It will be refreshing to see Mutant Mayhem explore the teenage lives of the beloved half-shell heroes, but does it really sound all that original? With that that said, there’s every possibility the live-action reboot will bring us closer to that R-rated TMNT reboot we’ve all been waiting for.
In the meantime, the ongoing IDW Publishing comic books continue with much darker themes, particularly in the brand-new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin — Lost Years” (2023), which has introduced two new female Ninja Turtles to the franchise.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will be released in theaters on August 4, 2023.
How excited are you for Mutant Mayhem? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!