These days, it seems that no film is immune to backlash, which usually tends to be the case with modern remakes. Just look at the response to the trailers for the upcoming live-action reboots The Little Mermaid (2023) and Peter Pan and Wendy (2023). And now, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) is the latest to face the wrath of the trolls.
The trailers for both of the Disney films in question have been repeatedly blasted by online trolls due to the fact that they have race-swapped some of the lead characters, with many calling the films “woke” simply for having diverse casts.
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The Little Mermaid, whose titular fictional mermaid is White in the original 1989 animated film, now stars African-American actress Halle Bailey in the lead role. Meanwhile, Peter Pan and Wendy‘s age-defying hero and magical fairy Tinkerbell are both portrayed by actors of mixed ethnicities — Alexander Molony and Yara Shahidi, respectively.
Now, the upcoming animated reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, whose first trailer dropped earlier this week, is facing similar backlash.
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As revealed in the trailer for Mutant Mayhem, the Ninja Turtles’ human friend and reporter April O’Neil (who is voiced by Ayo Edebiri) is African-American (meanwhile, a couple of other characters have also been gender-swapped, although they don’t appear in the trailer).
While this isn’t the first time April has been depicted as African-American, with animated show Rise of the TMNT (2018) being the first, a handful of YouTubers and a number of Twitter users are now lambasting the film.
One user, “Stay-Buft Marshmallow Man: Viktor Gorchev”, prefers the more “Jessica Rabbit”-style April O’Neil from the hugely popular 1987 cartoon. This is fine, of course, but that version of the news reporter isn’t going anywhere.
“I want more 1980s anime April O’Neil”
I want more 1980s anime April O'Neil. pic.twitter.com/aKzmpbGGEc
— Stay-Buft Marshmallow Man: Viktor Gorchev (@ViktorGorchev) March 6, 2023
Meanwhile, others have been less kind…
Some of these trolls aren’t just triggered by the fact that April O’Neil has been race-swapped, but they’ve also taken to calling her “fat”. Check out the disgusting tweet below where user “Brandon Morse” says… “is April O’Neil behind this fat woman? I don’t see her.”
…is April O'Neil behind this fat woman? I don't see her. pic.twitter.com/2FmANlKjX2
— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) March 6, 2023
However, all of the discourse regarding April’s ethnicity has led to many fans performing a deep-dive into the history of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It’s common knowledge that co-creator Kevin Eastman based the original depiction of April O’Neil in the 1980s Mirage Comics on his then-girlfriend, who appears to be of mixed ethnicity. But the trolls and the haters are sharing tweets suggesting that April was originally White, like the one below from user “Manos Gryparis”:
“April O’Neil first appeared in a 1984 comic as white. She also appeared as white in the first coloured comic (1986). What is this woke crap that we saw in your trailer? Black fat lady? You’ll get a nice review bombing day1”
April O'Neil first appeared in a 1984 comic as white.
She also appeared as white in the first coloured comic (1986).
What is this woke crap that we saw in your trailer?
Black fat lady?
You'll get a nice review bombing day1@ParamountPics @paramountco #paramount #TMNT #TMNTMovie pic.twitter.com/88xJ3aU5Tx
— Manos Gryparis (@ManosGryparis) March 7, 2023
Meanwhile, those who are defending the film are sharing the opposite — claiming that April was originally African-American. But the truth is that it doesn’t matter what April O’Neil’s original ethnicity was — the filmmakers are free to depict her in any way they like. Maybe she was originally White, or originally African-American, or mixed race — it doesn’t justify any of this backlash.
A handful of YouTube channels such as “Geeks + Gamers” and “Ryan Kinel — RK Outpost” were among the first to complain about April’s size and ethnicity in the Mutant Mayhem trailer, with the latter channel’s host, whose video is called “Another Woke Seth Rogen BOMB”, describing her as “fat as sh**”.
Many TMNT fans are rushing to April O’Neil’s defense, and fortunately, the trailer for Mutant Mayhem has mostly received positive praise, largely for its accurate depiction of the titular “teenage” characters, and its gorgeous animation style, which is very similar to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).
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Ayo Edebiri is the fifth actress to play April O’Neil in a theatrical TMNT movie, following Judith Hoag, Jean Paige Turco, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Megan Fox. And we can’t wait to see what Edebiri brings to the table!
Mutant Mayhem is the seventh theatrical TMNT movie, although it is in no way canon to any of the previous installments. It follows 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 (2016).
Check out the brand-new trailer for Mutant Mayhem below:
Related: First, Female Ninja Turtles, Now ‘TMNT’ Eyed For R-Rated Horror Reboot
As per Wikipedia, here’s the official synopsis for the film:
After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtles set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a notorious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.
Related: What Is the New Female ‘Ninja Turtles’ Sequel About?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem stars Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), Micah Abbey (Donatello), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo), Brady Noon (Raphael), Jackie Chan (Splinter), Ayo Edebiri (April O’Neil), Seth Rogen (Bebop), John Cena (Rocksteady), Hannibal Buress (Genghis Frog), Rose Byrne (Leatherhead), Ice Cube (Superfly), Post Malone (Ray Fillet), Paul Rudd (Mondo Gecko), Maya Rudolph (Cynthia Utrom), Natasia Demetriou (Wingnut), and Giancarlo Esposito (Baxter Stockman).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) will be released in theaters on August 4, 2023.
Related: ‘TMNT’ Prequel Follows ‘Ghostbusters’ Reboot, Replaces Beloved Heroes With Female Turtles
There’s also another live-action Ninja Turtles reboot in the works from producer Michael Bay, however, there’s currently no release date for that film.
Meanwhile, the IDW Publishing comic book series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin — The Lost Years” Issue #1 and Issue #2 are on sale now. Kevin Eastman recently confirmed that the series will run five issues with a one-shot called “Lost Day”, which will lead into “The Last Ronin 2”.
Related: “Footage” Surfaces For R-Rated ‘TMNT’ Reboot, Marvel Star Was Set For Lead Role
Will you be watching Mutant Mayhem? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!