Hell hath no fury like a fanbase scorned. From Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” abandoning their traditional yellow spandex to Jennifer Lawrence being too blonde and pale to play Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” internet fandom is not one to lay down silently when a filmmaker tinkers with iconic elements of their beloved franchises. Most recent to attract the ire of a group of fans was Michael Bay, who gave an interview over the weekend where he said that his upcoming live-action/CGI reboot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” would reimagine the reptilian heroes as members of an alien race.
As soon as NinjaTurtlesAreNowFromAnotherWorldGate broke, the internet exploded, with several petitions appearing from outraged fans who are horrified at the change in the origins for the new film, which Bay is producing. Jonathan Liebesman (“Battle: Los Angeles,” “Wrath Of The Titans“) is directing the script, written by “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” scribes Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec. Even Robbie Rist, who voiced Michelangelo in the original live-action movie, weighed in, describing the change as “the rape of our childhood memories” (can we please, please call a moratorium on that insensitive fucking analogy already? There’s honestly no better way to get us to disregard any opinion you might ever hold than by using that rape in this context).
Well, Bay’s never one to fail to appease the fans, and has taken to his Shoot For The Edit messageboards (via Movies.com) to defend the decision, and to ask fans for a little faith. The director wrote “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.”
Bay raises a decent point here. Over-protective fans are frequently horrified at any changes to their beloved source material, even when there’s a valid reason for making them. To whit: McG‘s bold, surprising ending to “Terminator: Salvation,” which would have been by far the most interesting thing in that disaster, leaked to the internet while the film was in production, and the resulting uproar persuaded the helmer to reshoot an alternate version as half-baked and compromised as the rest of the movie. Bay is at least sticking to his guns, and it’s possible that fans might be won over when they discover exactly what the filmmakers have planned.
That being said, while it pains us to pass up an opportunity to make fun of grown men who get this angry about a group of pizza-eating humanoid turtles, we do sympathize. Messing with an origin story this heavily is a little like having Batman becoming a crime-fighter after being bitten by a radioactive bat, and doesn’t bode well when it comes to an understanding of the material. But you know, we’d cross the street to avoid a theater showing this movie, so we’re perhaps not the best people to ask. After all, where was the outrage of TMNT fans when they hired the guy who made “Battle: Los Angeles” to direct? Get your priorities straight, people… Like it or not, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will hit theaters on December 25th, 2013.