The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as a group, have been part of the childhood lexicon for more than 35 years now with the names Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo sharing a special spot in our memory banks beyond just the thoughts conjured around classic art. The fighting foursome, along with the sage-like rat Splinter, have gone through a number of different iterations including the very popular 1990 live-action movie. Now, there are some rumors we could see a reboot of the original.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, those heroes in a half shell, got their start in the comic books back in 1984. It didn’t take long for an animated series to hit the small screen a few years later which ran on the much-ballyhooed Saturday morning cartoon schedule for more than a decade. But the real moment came in 1990 when the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit the big screen. It was a humongous hit. On just a $13 million dollar budget, the film grossed over $200 million at the box office including a few tickets bought by yours truly. It was a legitimate cultural moment and was the biggest independent movie of all-time when it released.
What made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so special was it became one of the first live-action adaptations of a cartoon. The studio used animatronics to replicate the turtle suits, along with some of the other character appearances. Would this kind of thing fly now? Probably not with digital effects and a whole host of other technologies at our disposal. But at the time, it worked.
Is everything in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise good? No, not by a long shot. But the series has stuck around all of these years, including a number of different animated programs over the years, keeping it relevant through multiple generations of kids and viewers. Currently, the series is running on Nickelodeon under the title Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with much of the original “cast” of characters including the antagonists Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady.
All of this is to say, rebooting the live-action movie now would make a ton of sense and that’s what some of the original creative team want to do. Original screenplay and story writer Bobby Herbeck was interviewed about the prospect of a reboot and he said he’d been in talks with original director Steve Barron as well.
Whether they have the juice to get it done is unclear. Barron has done some smaller movies and currently works on BBC’s The Durrells in Corfu. Herbeck on the other hand has few other works to his name and even has a lawsuit claiming he was owed money from the original movies. That being said, it appears he still has closer working relationships with the creative team and others who helped bring the original to life.
In our reboot culture where hits from the past are consistently mined to produce movies in the present, I suspect at some point we see a remake or reboot of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Considering how long it’s been around the years that have passed since we last saw them on the big screen, it’s probably about time to yell “Cowabunga, dude!” again.