‘TMNT’ Finally Getting ‘Dark Knight’ Treatment With Next Movie

in Movies & TV

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' (1990) official poster - turtles lifting the manhole cover

Credit: New Line Cinema

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) is one of the most successful movies of the year, having grossed over $180 million worldwide while impressing TMNT fans, both the new generation and the diehard loyalists who’ve been there since the ’80s.

So it’s no surprise a sequel has already been greenlit. A shared universe is also in development, which is where Nickelodeon is focusing its efforts, prioritizing it over the likes of the hugely popular ongoing IDW comic book series TMNT: The Last Ronin (2020).

The Turtles in their van in 'Mutant Mayhem'
Credit: Paramount Animation / Nickelodeon Movies (via YouTube)

Related: ‘Mutant Mayhem 2’ Villain Confirmed, Other Iconic Characters May Also Appear

Next year, a 2D-animated series titled Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2024) will begin streaming on Paramount+, which is said to follow on from the events of the 3D-animated film while also acting as a precursor to Mutant Mayhem 2 (TBA).

It will be the second installment in the Mutant Mayhem-verse, bridging the gap between the first movie and the second one now in early development. It will also be the sixth television series in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

Leonardo fighting with his katana blade in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem'
Credit: Paramount Animation / Nickelodeon Movies (via YouTube)

Related: 5 Reasons ‘Mutant Mayhem’ Is Overrated

Presumably, the series will find the half-shell heroes adjusting to life at high school, which is where the film ends, with Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Raphael (Brady Noon), Donatello (Micah Abbey), and Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), enrolling at Eastman High.

It seems the Ninja Turtles are getting on at high school just fine, as teased during the end credits, but now that they’re “out of the shadows” and living up on the surface with humans, naturally, they’re going to attract some unwanted attention going forward.

The Ninja Turtles looking scared in 'Mutant Mayhem'
Credit: Paramount Animation / Nickelodeon Movies

Related: ‘Mutant Mayhem’ Actor Open to Returning in ‘The Last Ronin’ Movie

A teaser for Mutant Mayhem 2 arrives in the form of a legendary TMNT villain, as Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph), head of TCRI (Techno Cosmic Research Institute, the corrupt outfit that experiments with mutations and alien life), decides to enlist the help of The Shredder.

In a previous interview with SFX magazine, Mutant Mayhem director Jeff Rowe dropped some titbits about what we can expect in the sequel where The Shredder is concerned, comparing him to The Joker from Batman, saying, “We’ll ‘Dark Knight‘ it [the sequel].”

The Joker (Heath Ledger) taunting a police offer in 'The Dark Knight'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Related: Anti-Woke Mob Resurfaces in Wake of ‘Mutant Mayhem’ Release

Rowe’s comparison to The Dark Knight (2008), the second installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy which features The Joker (Heath Ledger), is interesting, to say the least, as it sounds like Mutant Mayhem 2 could take a grittier turn than the first one.

That said, before Mutant Mayhem was released, it was compared to films such as Stephen King’s coming-of-age drama Stand By Me (1986) while also being described as “shockingly emotional” by the director. In hindsight, these sound like huge exaggerations at best.

The Turtles with white eyes in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem'
Credit: Paramount Animation / Nickelodeon Movies

Related: All the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Movies Ranked Worst to Best

While Mutant Mayhem certainly has some grit, mainly in the opening sequence which involves the capture of mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito), it is, for the most part, a comedy with a dose of studio-mandated TMNT action.

That’s not to say the sequel won’t experiment with a darker tone. In fact, The Shredder could be the key to giving fans the dark and gritty TMNT movie they desperately want (even if it is animated). In a recent interview with Collider, Rowe was asked about how Mutant Mayhem 2 will handle the Ninja Turtles’ arch nemesis, and he once again compared him to The Joker.

Here are his full comments:

“That is exactly what I am trying to figure out and what my next meeting will be about. That is what we are in the thick of now. Shredder is just a great character. He’s an iconic, classic, loved character. He’s like the Joker. You know who he is, even if you’re not a fan of the source material. I think we definitely wanna do a villain-forward film. We’re currently trying to make decisions about that, but those decisions for us as filmmakers will always come from the place of what tells the best story, specifically about our main characters, the Turtles.”

There’s no doubt that The Shredder is an iconic villain, just like The Joker (perhaps not as iconic). And though it’s an exciting prospect to see a darker spin on the long-standing TMNT character, we can’t help but feel that the Mutant Mayhem-verse isn’t the best place to do it.

Here’s to hoping we’re proven wrong and that Mutant Mayhem 2 will feel more mature than the first film, in the same way the Harry Potter movies evolve tonally as they go along.

The TMNT ready to fight in the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem' trailer
Credit: Nickelodeon Movies / Paramount Pictures

Related: ‘Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ Full Characters and Cast Guide

Check out the trailer for Mutant Mayhem below:

As per Wikipedia, here’s the official synopsis for Mutant Mayhem:

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.

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).

Mutant Mayhem is now available to watch at home.

Are you excited about Mutant Mayhem 2? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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