One of the big complaints about the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot movie — and there were so, so many — was the freaky-looking redesign for the Turtles themselves. I can understand Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman wanting to give the Turtles a new look that hadn’t been seen before, but the final product — seen above — read a lot more “Shrek” than “TMNT.” But if one artist had had his way, Leo, Mikey, and the rest might have looked a lot more like their real-life inspirations. Check out concept artist Anthony Francisco’s take on the Turtles below.
Conceptual illustrator Anthony Francisco put together the art as part of a pitch presentation he collaborated on, hoping to land a gig working on the Turtles reboot. On his Facebook page, Francisco said:
When Martin Astles (Head Sculptor at Illusion Industries) told me that Michael Bay wanted to do a TMNT movie, I started doing these concepts to help Illusion get the project. We did get a chance to meet with the producers and the meeting went well but we did not get the gig.
It definitely would have been a bold design choice, as the Turtles have always been a lot more cartoon-ish in their design. Francisco was obviously trying to hew closer to real-world Turtle biology, especially in the face and head. It would have been interesting to see if this design would have lent itself to the expressive and often light-hearted nature of the Turtles. I’m not sure I can see this singing the praises of pizza in a Valley accent, but you never know.
Even though it’s a dramatic departure from the Turtles’ traditional look, I do think these designs, even if they didn’t entirely work, still would have been more palatable than the fugly versions Liebesman’s movie went with. (Although then I might have spent the entire movie cracking jokes about Morla from The NeverEnding Story.)
Francisco’s Turtles also sported smaller shells, which he thought would help give them extra freedom to bust out their ninja moves.
One really crazy decision in Francisco’s art is giving the Turtles some heavy artillery to go along with their ninja weaponry. I have a feeling that one would have had many Turtles fans spinning like tops if it had made it into the movie. To Francisco’s credit, he fully admits, “this could be why we did not get the project.”