Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Is Saving The Best Villain For A Sequel

By Sean Thiessen | Published

Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

“We’ll Dark Knight it.” That was the tease from Jeff Rowe, the director of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, who suggested that the Shredder could make an appearance in the film’s sequel. As reported by GamesRadar, Rowe admitted that he is prepared to make more animated Turtles films, and he would love to include the storied villain in the follow-up.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem director Jeff Rowe is purposely not including Shredder in the movie to allow for a bigger sequel down the road.

The Dark Knight trilogy saved Batman’s archenemy, the Joker, for the second installment. Rowe sees the value of that using that pattern for the Turtles. ​​”When you’ve grown and you’ve become confident as a teenager,” he says, “to then go up against a foe that is three times scarier than anything you’ve ever seen before, that’s interesting and dramatic.”

Shredder has been the central villain for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since their comic book start in the 1980s. Though the character has taken several forms, Shredder is typically the moniker of Oroku Saki, a brutal martial arts master and the leader of the crime syndicate known as the Foot Clan. 

Comic creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman did not initially imagine Shredder as the Turtles nemesis, but fans latched onto the villain and he became the antagonist in the first two live-action Turtles films in the 1990s, many cartoons, video games, and Michael Bay’s reboot entries. For the new film, the creative team went in a different direction.

Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will feature Superfly as the lead villain, voiced by Ice Cube.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem features a villain called Superfly, a human-sized mutant fly voiced by Ice Cube. Superfly is not alone; making good on its title, the film introduces the Turtles to mutants like the hog and rhino duo Bebop and Rocksteady, Mondo Gecko, Genghis Frog, and the alligator called Leatherhead.

This new iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also doubles down on the “teenage” aspect of the characters. The voice cast is led by a group of actual teenagers, and the design of the characters imagines the boys as smaller, ganglier, and more awkward than in previous versions.

The Turtles are backed by an all-star supporting cast, including the voices of Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Rose Byrne, Jackie Chan, John Cena, Maya Rudolph, Giancarlo Esposito, Post Malone, and more. The reimagined characters are animated in a spectacular, painterly fashion, promising an innovative look akin to Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has the makings of a knockout hit, and if its box office performance warrants a sequel, Jeff Rowe’s Shredder wish may come true. To get there, the Turtles will have to break out of the sewer that is the 2023 box office.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Will Be Released Into A Harsh Box Office Environment

Animated releases like Disney and Pixar’s Elemental and DreamWorks’ Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken have struggled to perform. Even bankable properties like Indiana Jones and DC’s The Flash are struggling to hit. Across the Spider-Verse, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, and Fast X have risen to the challenge, but the post-COVID box office is less predictable than ever.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will bring up the tail end of the summer blockbuster season, which still has Mission: Impossible, Oppenheimer, and Barbie on the schedule. The tubular teens will do their best to skate by the competition and score a hit.

Using The Dark Knight as a model is never a bad idea. The Turtles’ work will be cut out for them if the studio finances a face-off with Shredder. If audiences want to see that showdown, first, they’ll have to shell out some cash of their own on Mutant Mayhem.