The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are some of the most beloved characters ever made, and
this year they made their animated movie debut with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant
Mayhem. To celebrate its release on home entertainment, we’ll be taking a look at the
awesome history of the Turtles, where they came from and all the wacky and wonderful
iterations they’ve had before now.
The iconic franchise is the 18th most successful in history, which is even more radical when
you find out where they come from.
Unlike most other franchises, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created by two friends
who loved comic books and were trying to make each other laugh. In 1984, Peter Laird and
Kevin Eastman worked for their local magazine. They were good friends as they both
wanted to be like their shared idol, Jack Kirby and become comic book artists for Marvel or
DC. They spent their days either working at the failing magazine or washing dishes in
restaurants, but they spent their nights drawing and brainstorming ideas for comic books.
One night, just to try and make Peter laugh, Kevin sketches a turtle with nunchucks (left) and
hands it to Peter. Peter claps back with his rendition (right) and writes the Ninja Turtles title
above them. Kevin then adds “Teenage Mutant” in front, and the rest is history. They turned
two into four, and gave them names based on Renaissance painters and personalities based
on themselves and their friends; Leonardo, the leader; Donatello, the nerdy turtle; Raphael,
the hothead; and Michaelangelo, the goofball.
In the late 80s, the independent comic started selling out across America. TV producers then
began discussing with Eastman and Laird about the potential of a cartoon TV show. Once it
was made, the show exploded. Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo are all
about friendship, brotherhood, pizza and defeating evil, and their infectious personalities and
ethos were spreading across the world. The cartoon became the number one in America for
two years straight, and the toys started to take over. Playmates had perfectly translated the
zany and wacky fun of the TV show into action figures, turning the turtles into a $350M per
year industry. The toys were selling out across America, with everyone wanting their own
ninja turtles. This led to Hollywood wanting to turn the turtles into movie stars. Sadly,
Eastman & Laird drifted apart, and the comics ended in 1993.
The Live-Action Movies
The first film was instantly iconic and an absolute hit when it came out in 1990. Perfect
timing to propel the Turtles into 90s pop culture, and they fit right in. The sequel, The Secret
of the Ooze, was immediately ordered and came out a year later in 1991. The third movie in
the series did not perform as well at the box office. This led to heaps of conspiracy and
mystery surrounding of the unreleased fourth movie, which was allegedly going to include a
fifth turtle and an evil April O’Neil!
The Edgy Era
In 2014, Transformers director Michael Bay released his iteration of the radical turtle dudes.
Giant hulking CGI turtles and Megan Fox as April O’Neil – the Michael Bay turtles featured
tons of action and explosions, with Will Arnett providing laughs along the way.
The Last Ronin
In 2020, the bromance was restored, and Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman made up and
returned to write the dark, definitive final comic of their original run from the 1980s. Set in a
post-apocalyptic future, the graphic novel follows the final surviving turtle on a mission to
avenge his fallen brothers by killing the grandson of Shredder, the world’s new overlord. It is
a touching, emotional story filled with fantastic action and concepts, such as the unknown
final turtle using all four of his brother’s iconic weapons, as you can see on the cover here.
And the comic was unbelievably successful, making the top ten best-selling books in 2020!
The latest iteration of the totally tubular turtles came out this year and is definitely the best
yet. In their first animated theatrical film, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles face a new,
ooze-ridden threat in Ice Cube’s villainous Super Fly. Director Jeff Rowe said he wanted the
spectacular animation to come across as though a student had doodled the movie
themselves, in the back of a classroom. With Jackie Chan as Master Splinter, John Cena
Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Post Malone and Rose Byrne as Super Fly’s goons, and Brady
Noon, Shamon Brown Jr, Nicholas Cantu and Micah Abbey as the infectiously enthusiastic
and energetic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The wildly entertaining and action-packed hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is available to Download & Keep on Digital for fans to watch at home, on 4K Ultra HD ™, Blu-ray™, and DVD and 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray SteelBook from Paramount Home Entertainment.