The New TMNT Movie Should Draw Inspiration from the '80s


Paramount Pictures is planning a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. The news was revealed by the franchise's co-creator, Kevin Eastman, who teased there's something in the works at the studio.

"Stay tuned," Eastman told ComicBook.com. "It is a work in progress [because], you know, the experiences and so the fans' reactions -- plus and minus to the 2014, 2016 movies -- Paramount, I believe, had taken those to heart and where they'd like to see the next reiteration go to, so I think it's going to be next-level type of stuff, which I'm excited to see."

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

There's no mention of whether the new film will be a continuation of the current movies or a complete reboot. Though considering how the last film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, only made $245.6 million worldwide, it's best to bet on the latter.

The franchise does find itself in a bit of a predicament here. While it's evolved on the small screen, with the different animated series all finding success over the past three decades, it's struggled to make an impact at the movies in recent times.

The 2014 and 2016 films updated the Turtles for a new generation, with a new look, different musical tastes and a change in attitude, but they failed to hit the mark with fans -- both young and old. There was something missing: The Turtle Power magic from before was nowhere to be found.

Undoubtedly, TMNT experienced its popularity peak in the late '80s and early '90s with the release of the animated series and toyline. It didn't stop there, escalating to pizza tie-ins, video games, clothing and the first film franchise. It was Turtlemania everywhere you looked, and you could argue that these characters were even more popular than other mainstream comic book heroes at the time.

1990 TMNT Live Action Movie

This version of the tubular characters was far removed from what Peter Laird and Eastman had first envisioned with their comic book series, but you can't dispute the fact that the world loved this incarnation of the Turtles. The question is, how do you capture the lightning-in-a-bottle effect from that era and translate it to 2019?

The answer might be simpler than you think. It's about embracing the nostalgia of that era and understanding there's an aura to it. Much like Stranger Things is an unabashed love letter to '80s popular culture, a new TMNT film could operate in the same manner.

Capturing the sights, sounds and stories of the time, the filmmakers harness the potential to turn it into a throwback picture, allowing older fans to reminisce about their childhoods while showcasing the era of Turtlemania for those too young to have experienced it. It's about turning back the dial and bringing the past to the future.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 Animated Series

While franchises inevitably develop and change over time, there's nothing wrong with recognizing when they were at their best. The various comic book series from IDW Publishing and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated show on TV are doing their own unique things, but the Turtles aren't as massive as they used to (and could) be. They simply aren't the dominant force that wiped the floor with the likes of Batman and Spider-Man in the past.

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When you get down to it, TMNT is a totally bonkers concept from the get-go, and a time capsule of what the late '80s were all about. Rather than twist and try to find a place for them in the modern era, it's time to embrace and revisit these characters at the peak of Turtle Power. After all, "cowabunga" never sounded sweeter than it did back then. Right, dudes?

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