The Star Wars franchise has accomplished just that, which may prove to be the smartest decision Disney has made since it purchased Lucasfilm in 2012. Instead of paying fan service to fans who grew up with the original trilogy (or the divisive prequels), the entertainment giant decided to reshape the franchise for a new generation to discover. Disney has made it so kids have a chance to fall in love with Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren the same way so many of us fell in love with Luke, Leia, Han and Darth Vader.
We’ve seen these types of revamps of characters in comic books for almost a century. The Superman who first graced the pages of Action Comics in the 1930s is not the same Man of Steel he is today. Characters change with their audience, and while not every incarnation has resonated with fans, the fact that creators are willing to adapt their creations to reflect the cultural climate is what makes them timeless. It’s not their costumes or their social status within their fictional universes, or the color of their skin or what gender they identify with. It all boils down to keeping the heart of what the characters stands for intact. Nothing else should matter.
Jumping the gun and deriding a series, sight unseen, due to a small collection of images that don’t conjure up the youthful longing you once felt is foolish and downright immature. If Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles turns out to be revolutionary for the franchise, fans will have to back peddle their knee-jerk reactions. And while criticism can certainly be healthy, arguing over the merits of change is futile. Progress and evolution of characters cannot be stopped. Trying to build obstructions through outrage, however, can be.
The only real truth to these new versions of characters and intellectual properties is that they must be judged not by solely their aesthetics, but instead by their merits. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles might just be your new favorite animated series, but the only way to honestly make that decision is to give is whirl once it comes out. Maybe it won’t be your cup of tea, but again, that's okay. Perhaps it isn’t designed and marketed for fans in their 30s. Maybe it’s designed for the children of those fans. And perhaps the quality of this new show will spark a new obsession that will have adult fans sharing the entries of the franchise they consumed so ravenously when they were kids hunkered down in front of a tube television on Saturday mornings.
At the very least, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles has to be leaps and bounds better than the “Coming Out of Their Shells” Tour. Remember that? Yeesh. Can you image if Reddit was around in 1990? Then, maybe fans would actually have something to be upset about.
Premiering in 2018, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stars Omar Miller as Raphael, Ben Schwartz as Leonardo, Josh Brener as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith as Michelangelo, Kat Graham as April O'Neil, Eric Bauza as Master Splinter, and John Cena as Baron Draxum.