Many of us are curious to see how director Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot turns out, both as an actual movie and as financial endeavor. Will the film be any good? Are audiences still interested in seeing the Heroes in a Half Shell on the big screen? The new version has made some serious changes to the source material, most notably in the characters design—the Turtles are much larger than their previous incarnations and have those much-maligned humanoid noses—and in the origin story—instead of a chance encounter with the mysterious ooze, they were created in a lab by April O’Neil’s (Megan Fox) father. But now we’re hearing news about possible differences in the main villain as well.
According to a recent report at Screenrant, who was invited to check out two as yet unveiled scenes from the Michael Bay-produced film, the bad guy is not who we thought he was. The biggest thing to come out of this viewing—aside from the emphasis on the humor and a noted influence from the animated series—contradicts reports that we’ve been hearing for months: William Fichtner is NOT playing Shredder, the Turtles’ arch enemy and the butt of many of their jokes.
When the casting was originally announced, there was an outcry that the character, traditionally a martial arts master of Japanese heritage, had been turned into a white guy named Eric Sachs. Apparently that is not entirely the case. Eric Sachs is still a villain, but not THE traditional villain. He’s a businessman—aren’t they always evil in movies?—who works for Shredder, the leader of the Foot Clan. Shredder will, reportedly, be a completely separate character.
In reality, the latest trailer should have been our first clue about Fichtner not playing Shredder. After all, when Eric Sachs tells that shadowy figure that “We’ve taken your armor to the next level,” that’s a pretty good indication that he’s not the one all dressed up like a motorized set of ginsu knives.
And if you, like me, were one of the people worried that Shredder’s armor looks really, really heavy, like so heavy that it would be damn near impossible for anyone, even the most skilled martial artist, to do karate while wearing it, we’ve got some bad news. That outfit we’ve seen in some recently released footage is also apparently mechanized.
It would be one thing if the media had just taken a rumor and run with it, creating our own circular confirmation, but Fichtner specifically told the press that he was playing Shredder. This raises a lot of questions. If we were deliberately misled, as it appears may have been, the biggest question is why? We know Shredder is in the movie and that he will be an evil bastard up to no good, so what does lying about it accomplish?
Another option, one that sounds imminently more plausible is that he was originally cast Shredder, but things changed over time. It was last year during a press conference when the news came out, and a lot can change in that time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has gone through a significant evolution from the time it was announced to what we will see on screens on August 8. In an early incarnation of the script they were aliens, like from space. That’s obviously different now, so who is to say that Eric Sachs didn’t start life as the alter ego of Shredder, only to see his identity and role change. If that is the case, maybe the production just never bothered to correct the issue.
Perhaps they bowed to public pressure, perhaps they went back to a version of the character that is more in line with the source material. Then again, this could have been the way it was since the beginning. We may never know either way, or why they decided to keep this piece of information a secret.
What, if any, impact will this have on the finished film? If nothing else, it sounds more like the Shredder that we know from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s comics, the animated series, and the earlier movies. His real name is Oroku Saki, but you rarely, if ever, get to meet the man beneath the armor. Whatever this does mean, we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out.