Michael Bay caused quite the hubbub the other day with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans. He’s producing a new iteration of the lovable characters in the form of a live-action reboot directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans). Said hubbub was caused when Bay commented that the turtles in the reboot would be “from an alien race.” Fans were perplexed given that the word “mutant” is right in the title of the series, and “alien race” would imply that these new martial arts-inclined turtles weren’t mutated, but are actually extra terrestrial beings.
Steve got the chance to speak with Liebesman at the press junket for Wrath of the Titans earlier today and the director took the time to clear the air about his version of TMNT. He addressed the “alien race” comments, talked about his approach to the characters, revealed whether they’re thinking CGI or practical effects to bring the turtles to life, and said when he thinks they’ll start filming and where. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
“Look, it’s so funny—if everyone was such a die-hard fan, they would know that the TCRI canisters where the ooze comes from. That is alien ooze. Now I’m not saying what Michael said is exactly what the movie is, because we’re sitting in a room now figuring everything out. So we don’t know, but we are like Michael said: we’re expanding it, and the expansion will be true to the mythology. I promise you: fans will love it.”
While it still sounds early in the development process, it appears the whole “alien” aspect may simply be referring to the ooze that mutates the turtles. As Liebesman said, they’re still working out the concept so things could definitely change. He stressed that TMNT comics co-creator Kevin Eastman is working alongside him, so they’re not exactly throwing the series mythology out the window:
“Whatever mythology we’re building on or expanding is coming from that guy, Kevin Eastman’s head, who created the Turtles in the first place. And so everything will tie in with the mythology; fans will be extremely excited with what we’re coming up with. A lot of it is stuff he’s wanted to do for a long time, but just hasn’t had the opportunity because now we have the budget and things on this film to expand it in the right way. And so, I’m happy that everyone is extremely passionate, and they will not be disappointed. It’s all coming from the best possible place for this franchise.”
When asked if the turtles would be practical or CGI, Liebesman hinted that they may be done similar to another recent visual effects-laden project:
“All I’ll say is that I love how they did [The Rise of the Planet of the Apes]. That was exceptional.”
I think this is a great way to go, and if Liebesman can bring Weta Digital in to create photorealistic turtles then I think we’ll be in for a visually stunning TMNT. The director also stressed that the film won’t be entirely about action:
“We’re definitely into the action, but for me what’s more important than that is that it’s a story about brotherhood and friendship and responsibility. Right now, I’m with the characters because those are what attracted me to the movie. They’re the best characters I’ll have had a chance to deal with.”
Liebesman also revealed that they’ll probably be shooting later this year (“September, or something”) and they’re thinking about shooting in Canada. I’m not necessarily a die-hard TMNT fan, but I think I can live with the fact that the ooze in the reboot comes from an “alien race.” Having the turtles themselves be aliens would be pushing it, but if Liebesman’s comments are to be taken to heart then I think fans will be alright in the end.
Here’s the portion of Steve’s interview on TMNT. Look for the full interview next week and make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.