The Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has been at the center of a storm of controversy ever since it was announced. This upheaval continued with the confirmation that William Fichtner will play The Shredder, the iconic villain of the franchise. Although Fichtner is clearly not Japanese, Shredder’s alter ego Oroku Saki most certainly is, which puts Fichtner, and the production, in an interesting situation. Will Oroku Saki and Shredder be completely “whitewashed,” or will the character be watered down and Americanized?
Apparently, it’s the latter. In an interview with Screen Rant, Fichtner talks about his new role. He explains that the writers and producers have changed Shredder’s alter ego from the Japanese Oroku Saki to something far less exciting. Fichtner says, “I actually play a guy named Eric Sachs [Sounds like Sachs? Hard to understand] in the movie. And then he goes through a few stages in his existence.”
While the name Eric Sachs doesn’t strike fear in someone’s heart like Oroku Saki, it appears the new film is progressing nicely. Fichtner assures fans of the comic books and animated series not to worry about the reboot, continuing:
Turtles is coming together very, very cool. There is a whole interesting dynamic that happens in the world of Turtles and all I can really say about it at this point while working on it is that the Turtle film, it’s not like anything that I remember about the Turtles before. I feel like this Michael Bay-produced movie is just gonna really be something else. I’m pretty excited.
It’s unclear how big a part Japanese culture will play into this version of the “Heroes in a Half-Shell” saga, but it doesn’t sound like much. You can add this to the numerous grievances long-time fans already have with the upcoming film. It all started when we first learned Bay was producing, and continued with the Mutant/Space Alien debacle. Then there were the title change and Megan Fox as April O’Neil to cope with. One TMNT co-creator, Peter Laird, was not at all happy to learn about the Fox casting, while the other, Kevin Eastman, says fans shouldn’t be worried. Which one do you believe?
It seems as if the only thing this film has to offer is the updated look of the Turtles themselves. Recently, Paramount Pictures invited a group of film bloggers and journalists to the New York City set. The reactions to what they saw were extremely positive, giving fans some hope that the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might actually be a good movie. But with the news that Shredder isn’t Japanese, well… it’s hard to stay completely optimistic.
In addition to Fox and Fitchner, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also stars Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Jeremy Howard as Donatello, Pete Ploszek as Leonardo, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick, and Danny Woodburn as Master Splinter. Screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) wrote the screenplay, while Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) directs.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits theaters everywhere on June 6, 2014.