TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman is loving Michael Bay's movie - will fans?

Hmmm, maybe it is time for us Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans to chill out? Kevin Eastman, who co-created the TMNT comic with Peter Laird, seems to be very involved in the movie Michael Bay is producing (and apparently co-writing) that has devotees riled because of the altered origin story. And now he's saying that this movie, to be directed by Jonathan Liebesman, is "easily the best 'Turtles' movie yet." My soul feels torn in half, pulled in one direction by Eastman and another by Michael freaking Bay.

Indeed, Eastman has been working on the screenplay for this movie with Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, which puts him squarely in the eye of the origin-story-changing storm. For those of you just joining us, the decision was made to turn the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into aliens from another planet, relabeling them -- and the movie -- just Ninja Turtles. An uproar ensued. Bay told everyone to "chill out." And now, Eastman is giving this thing his blessing. Speaking with MTV at Comic Con, he said the following:

"From what I've seen, it's easily the best 'Turtle' movie yet," Eastman said. "We're talking 'Raid: Redemption'-style fight scenes; we're talking about epic 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' sort of effects."

And on the different origin story:

"I know that Michael and his group really like that and that Paramount was supportive of that, so I think that it's great," he shared. "I grew up reading 'Captain America' and 'The Avengers' and all that stuff, and over the course of the comic book history, since 'Avengers' has been around, how many times has it been reinvented, reformatted, restructured, replatformed?"

Because changes to origin stories in comic books always go over great with fans, right?

He also mentioned that the new May 2014 release date actually coincides with the 30th anniversary of TMNT, so that's why it was pushed back from December 2013, and not because pre-production was going so badly. Ummmm... sure. Fine.

Okay, Eastman. I guess if you're cool with this, and you're this close to the production of the movie (which, he said, is still mulling the use of motion-capture for the title characters, whoever they are), then I will just have to take your word as well as this huge leap of faith.

Since this is my second week at Boing Boing and this is already my second post about Ninja Turtles, it's no mystery that this is a subject pretty dear to my heart. So this project is causing me a decent amount of agita, and I'm positive that I'm not alone. Will some of my fellow TMNT fans continue to rage and refuse to see the final product? Yes. Will some of them give Eastman the benefit of the doubt and see what's up his sleeve? Yes.

But Michael Bay is still Michael Bay, and there is no reconciling that.

Kevin Eastman talks Ninja Turtles movie [Superhero Hype]


    1. If Kevin Eastman were worried about profits, he wouldn’t have sold his share in the property.

      1. If Kevin Eastman didn’t care about profits, he would given his share away rather than selling it.

        1. Eh, maybe — but I get the impression that the real reason he’s suddenly gung-ho about Turtles again is just because it’s his first opportunity to work on it without having to work with Laird.

          I think he could live comfortably without working another day in his life; he’s had a few failed ventures over the years but I don’t think he’s hurting.

          Like I say down below — I think he’s being completely sincere when he says he thinks the script is great.  I just don’t think he has very good taste.  (Ever see Heavy Metal 2000?)

      1.  Right? When’s the last time a Hollywood movie made a net profit (per Hollywood accounting)?

  1. Krusty:  [sobbing] They drove a dump truck full of money up to my house! I’m not made of stone!

    1.  and this is why all the Tamarians speak like that in that Darmok episode.

      Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra must have been one hell of a TV show.

  2. Not to be cynical, but his million dollar payout and revival of the TNMT backcatalog might be swaying his opinion. Although being the best Turtle movies is kind of a low bar. With the exception of the first, they’ve all been meh.

  3. I just read a 300 page comic about the romantic relationship between Raph and Leo (set after the end of the last movie). Can’t somebody make that film instead?

  4. At the risk of refuting the very possibility of a loving god, one can ensure that any Ninja Turtles movie feels like the best damn movie in human history.

    How? Simply obtain a copy of the video that was made of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Coming Out of Their Shells” concert and watch it beforehand…

  5. Here is the problem I have with the “from space” reboot: it is unnecessary. We had an origin story – a solid origin story that has lasted 30 years. W hat possible plot line could you have that requires the Turtles come from space that you couldn’t make work as terrestial mutants.

    Michael Bay sucks. Most of his movies have totally sucked with horrible, HORRIBLE writing.

    COULD Michael Bay make a solid film with a good script? Maybe. It would be like watching a 2 year old carry a full glass of juice across white carpet.

    But I don’t see it happening. I am pretty sure they are taking my childhood, raping it, and making it retarded. Again.

      1.  No – it’s just “Ninja Turtles”.

        The problem we have now is which is truly the greater force? Pirate – Ninjas – or Space Ninjas?

        1. I think space ninja are just a sub-set of ninja. Like space pirates are still pirates, but with lasers.

          1. You know, I’ve been wanting to see a TMNT space opera for decades now.  If the origin rewrite turns out to be an excuse for that, then I might be onboard.

            But more likely it’s just to make it more like the Transformers movies.

    1. My problem with the whole from space angle is why would they even care about coming to earth in the first place? I can only really see two possibilities:

      1) They’re going with “our enemy is pure evil and so we must protect this innocent world!” story, which has been done to death and sounds a lot like Transformers but with turtles. 

      2) Krang destroys the Alien Turtle planet and the baby turtles are sent to Earth to protect them, totally not stealing Superman’s origin story in the process, honest (or the Thundercats one either for that matter).

      If they absolutely had to get some sort of space origin going I’d much prefer green ooze from the sky mutating native wildlife, it’s close to the original but leaves it open for any number of alien magic-tech civilisations to appear at any time, which seems to be the only reason to make the turtles from space.

      Edit: Eh. I watched the video from further down the comments and it turns out the ooze was from space after all, so shows what I know really. :-/

  6. Of course Eastman would say that. He wants it to do well so he can cash in on a sequel, etc.

    I mean, really. Do we really think Michael Bay is gonna get this right? 

    If you really care about TMNT and a movie made today would change that, just don’t watch it. That’s my new philosophy on these things. Just. Don’t. Go.

  7. @Mister44:disqus I absolutely agree with you. Without going through the trouble of actually looking it up right now, I believe that Bay wanted to move it to an extraterrestrial story to allow for another turtle. Oh, jesus Bay, how could it work any other way? How could you possible explain it better if it came from space than if it came from the sewer? Oh, I don’t know, maybe another turtle got oozed at some point? Or – wow – let me think about this. WHO CARES as long as it sticks closely to the classic origin story? We are not exactly bound to the shackles of logic here. Ooze is ooze, jerks. If they get a Skrillex or something like that to do the soundtrack I am going to hang myself – I don’t think I am over-reacting here.

  8. I really don’t have a problem with the TMNT being from another dimension, and I’m a huge TMNT nut.  I find that a lot easier to swallow than having Michael Bay involved in any way, however.

    1. This raises three questions:

      1) Are we all just upset about what Bay is doing to it, or the fact that Bay is doing anything?
      2) If it wasn’t Bay, would it matter that the story is changing?
      3) Why doesn’t Bay just leave it alone and do a space mutant story not involving the franchise? He’s killing all the fans of the TMNT franchise anyway. I had nearly every Transformer made over a 4 or 5 year period and STILL haven’t seen the newer movies.

      1.  “I had nearly every Transformer made over a 4 or 5 year period and STILL haven’t seen the newer movies.”

        Don’t. They make no sense and other than Optimus Prime they lack pretty much everything from the original show/comics/toys.

  9. the turtles are dear to me too, but we should just improve our own negative capability the way Eastman has, and allow the turtles to live outside of their teenage and mutant identities.

  10. Met Eastman and Laird back in the early days while working at a con, when the TMNT comic was only about a half-dozen or so issues in. This was mid-80s. (Got them both to sign 1st edition issues 1 and 2, and then sold them later for a pathetic amount of money. I kick myself still.)

    The pair were quite the odd couple – Eastman would go out partying and Laird retreated to his hotel room to watch movies on the hotel movie channel.

    I can totally see Eastman being the “sell-out” of the two.

    1. Those personalities certainly seem like what I’ve seen in their writing and interviews over the years.  Laird always seemed more controlling and opinionated, more inclined to dismiss and dislike stuff that wasn’t his — but he also seemed to have much better taste and I think his stuff was generally higher-quality.  (Eastman has actually praised the live-action TV series with the girl turtle.  Laird has not.)

      That said, when we talk about “selling out”, the first question arises about precisely WHAT we’re talking about selling out.

      Both creators retained ownership of the property when the cartoon, toys, movies came out.  They didn’t have full control over those spinoff media, and they made truckloads of money, so you could call that “selling out” in that sense, but it was still a creator-owned property.

      Eastman sold his share to Laird around the turn of the century, if I’m not mistaken, and wasn’t much involved with it after that.  (That he jumped back in pretty much as soon as Laird sold the property indicates it was personal issues with Laird that kept him away from it, not a lack of interest in doing more TMNT stuff — though it could easily have been both, and the failure of some of his other projects.)  Laird sold the whole thing to Nickelodeon in ’09, if I’m not mistaken (it was right around the 25th anniversary, anyway).

      Both creators retained certain rights when they sold their respective shares of the property.  Eastman kept the rights to an issue he did with Richard Corben, and the Bodycount miniseries, while Laird kept the right to publish up to 18 TMNT comics a year without interference from Nickelodeon should he ever get the itch again.  In both cases it seems that the creators were ultimately most interested in keeping some ownership over the art they’d created, rather than a piece of the marketing juggernaut it had become.

      The thread’s full of people talking about how Eastman’s only praising this movie because he’ll make money on it.  I really don’t think that’s true; as I’ve mentioned, if he were worried about money he wouldn’t have sold his half of the ownership.

      He’s praising this movie because he has terrible taste.

      1. Eastman has actually praised the live-action TV series with the girl turtle.

        Really?  Holy bork.  What more do we need to know?

  11. “I grew up reading ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Avengers’ and all that stuff, and over the course of the comic book history, since ‘Avengers’ has been around, how many times has it been reinvented, reformatted, restructured, replatformed?”

    Okay, I guess technically that’s true, but…the origin stories in the movie versions of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were all damn-near identical to their original comic book incarnations.  They struck off in different directions after that (often to their detriment), but the origins were very much intact.

    And while there have been a hell of a lot of different versions of the Avengers over the years, isn’t it kind of telling that they went with Cap/Thor/Hulk/Iron Man in the movie — a pretty close facsimile of the original team?  (Technically in the comics Ant-Man and Wasp were on the team, Hulk left after #1, and Cap didn’t show up until #4, but again, pretty close.)

    We’re not talking about a minor change like “Tony Stark’s origin now takes place in Afghanistan instead of Vietnam.”  We’re talking about a change more along the lines of “Tony Stark’s origin now takes place in OUTER SPACE.”

  12. God may have created us and love us, but he doesn’t get quite as riled up as we do when he smites a few thousand of us. I imagine being a story creator has about the same mentality.

  13. Maybe he loves chesty women and corny dialog….

    O wait, he created TMNT?  Yes, that is exactly what it is.

    1. I’ve never really thought of TMNT as being a comic about “chesty women”.

      Which isn’t to say Eastman DOESN’T love chesty women.  He made Heavy Metal 2000, after all.  An entire direct-to-video movie about his former Penthouse Pet of the Year wife.

      1.  Maybe my memory of April from the TV cartoon was not representative of the source material.  but on the show she seemed to always be in a partially unzipped yellow jumpsuit, with heaving bosoms.

  14. I can’t believe the origin story of turtles who are mutants and teenagers and who are ninjas has been changed. Who will believe it now? 

    1.  Oh for fuck’s sake.

      Really, dude?  You wanna be THAT guy?  The guy who pulls a “Well the premise is fiction, therefore you can NEVER CRITICIZE ANYTHING ABOUT IT” response?

      1.  Are you pretending not to perceive Evan’s Irony to be Ironic?  Because if you are I am completely seeming to fail to perceive your intended irony in an attempt to make my internet blog comment more ironic.  Like totally.

  15. scooped this over a month ago, here’s the unedited chat with Kevin Eastman about the movie, Bay, and everything else

  16. Honestly, Michael Bay is probably well suited to do a TMNT movie. It may be the subject of fond memories but it´s not exactly demanding material.

  17. Wait a sec, I’ve just thought of something.

    Is it possible that the rewritten origin could be an attempt at an end run around reversion?

    Like, am I correct in assuming that Eastman and Laird (or their heirs) are entitled to regain the TMNT copyrights 56 years after original publication (ie in 2040), but that Paramount will retain all the trademarks?

    So this could hypothetically mean that, come 2040, the creators/heirs reclaim the rights to the ORIGINAL version of the Turtles…but that Paramount still owns these alien Turtles, as distinct characters.

    (Doesn’t seem inconceivable to me that they’d be considered distinct characters; the original Superboy is legally distinct from Superman even though he’s just Superman as a boy, and Wolfman’s case for the Blade rights ended in a judgement that the character was so substantially changed between his original pitch and the published version as to be an entirely different character.)

    Course, it could be I’m overthinking this and Bay just wants to do another movie based on an alien invasion by a popular 1980’s toy/cartoon property.

  18. Right… the guy who turned Metal Hurlant into a trashy paean to his skeezy car-show model (now) ex-wife is down with the Turtle reboot, so relax. He’s an authority on turning great culture into shit, so take his word for it. This is totally different from every other awful adaptation of his one-note gag franchise… because Michael Bay.

    1. I didn’t like Heavy Metal 2000 either (who did, besides Eastman and Strain?), but he’s done some good things with the property too.

      I also don’t see TMNT as a “one-note gag franchise”; while the title’s a joke and the first issue made a bunch of Frank Miller refs, I think they got that stuff out of their system pretty fast and played the premise mostly straight.

      And for my money there have been good adaptations of it and bad ones.  Like with anything.

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