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Mewtent Not Aliem

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Mewtent Not Aliem

March 23rd, 2012

Late last week Michael Bay took the stage at Nickelodeon Upfront to discuss the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie he is producing. He offered only brief details, used unedited in this week's comic:

“When you see this movie, kids will believe one day that these turtles do exist, when we’re done with this movie. These turtles are from an alien race, and they’re going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.”

While it wasn't much, it was enough to set the fans ablaze with complaint. These complaints were loud enough that even mainstream news sources were picking the story up. Even Peter Laird, co-creator of the turtles had to publicly throw his opinion in; Laird no longer has control of the franchise after selling it to Nickelodeon/Viacom in 2009. This sort of backlash is nothing new. Fans and nostalgic viewers alike complain when a franchise changes. Fans were mad when Uhura romanced Spock in 2009's Star Trek, they were mad when Michael Bay changed the look of Transformers, and they're mad every single time George Lucas re-releases Star Wars. The Transformers fandom is particularly notable for a distaste of change. Back when Beast Wars was new, it was not uncommon to see arguments for why Optimus Prime should be a truck, not a monkey -- leading to the parody phrase "TRUKK NOT MUNKY".

Michael Bay has since issued a response to the negative reception:

“Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.


Do I trust Bay on this one? No, not really. Bay helmed three of the most profitable movies of all time (good or bad, Transformers 1, 2, and 3 made a lot of cash) and he will do whatever he pleases. His response is standard PR jargon and he said similar things before the two Transformers sequels. The fact that he boasts about the inclusion of one of the original creators is laughable. Hollywood brings in the original creators as consultants for these movies all the time. They look over a script, make a few notes, summarize some characters so executives don't have to read a stack of comic books. Then the studio shoos them away and does whatever it pleases, often the exact opposite of the notes they were given. There's always a chance the property holders will get cold feet after all this negative press or a director will be hired on that steers this in the right direction, but Michael has already proven he can make a top-grossing film. And good or bad, if it makes money it'll be approved.

I debated hard on whether I should do a Turtles comic this week. I actually had another strip planned (bumped back to next week), but there's still a lot of lingering discussion on this topic. As the guy behind a strip called Nerd Rage, I think I'm obligated to use a subject that generates this much nerd rage. I'm trying to keep an open mind on this (especially since I haven't seen a script), but these are my current thoughts:

1. What new aspects does the "alien" origin bring to the table? Is there more to the concept than aliens selling well with kids?
2. If they are aliens, can they really still be "turtles" or "ninjas"? If the problem is believability with the ooze origin, the alien origin will not resolve this. They're still giant talking turtles and they still use ninjutsu and antiquated weapons.
3. How does Splinter play in? Is he being erased? The ooze story ties him to the turtles. Without it, it will be harder to include the mentor/rat character.
4. I like the mutated origin because it grounds the turtles on Earth and isolates them. Unlike Laird, I like that there's only four of them and there's no one else out there who has to deal with being a five foot tall, walking, talking turtle. There's no Turtle Planet waiting to meet up with them. There's no team of Turtle Parents or Next Generation Turtles. There's no females of their species. They're literally all there is and it creates kind of a bleak human-acceptance story (with pizza and nunchucks). This point could, of course, be negated by a Superman origin, but if that is the case I kindly redirect you to question number one.
5. The ooze makes a fun plot device to introduce other mutated animals/people. If you really, really want to do more turtles, the ooze origin can do that too.

But enough about the Turtles. We really don't know enough to have any solid opinions. And for the record, please never use "raped my childhood" as a honest, serious complaint. Because you won't be winning over any favor.

The first trailer for LittleBigPlanet Karting is out, leaving many to wonder why a kart racing spin-off was necessary for a game that's purportedly able to make any game and how this would be different from ModNation Racers. It's actually being designed by United Front Games (the ModNation Racers team). Based on the trailer, I would say it looks promising, as a common response to Mario Kart is "This would be more fun if everything was cardboard. And there were grappling hooks."

Angry Birds Space will be out by the time you read this post. It's the first Angry Birds sequel to mix up really mix things up, adding an orbital mechanic to the classic box-tumbling-bird-projectile genre. I've only had a little time to play with it, but so far it seems really fun.

ThinkGeek put up this inflatable Aperture Science sentry. If you're the type who likes high end defense equipment but an air-filled replica will suffice, this is the product for you. Probably.

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