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Evolution Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies

Evolution Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies

Last Friday the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies opened a new chapter, as Jonathan Liebesman’s reboot of the cult classic was released in cinemas across the UK. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a knockout with fans for three decades and in an appreciation of the turtles’ immortal ability to make a comeback, (and our current deal of 10% off Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles merchandise), we here at Zavvi wanted to look retrospectively at the evolution of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and see how far they’ve come.

It all started with a jokey sketch between friends, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, of a singular turtle caricatured with a weapon and ninja abilities. The pair, entertained by their invention expanded the idea to include three more turtles, and in 1984 formed Mirage Studios to self-publish the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic. The dark and satirical storyline surrounding the turtles made them an instant hit, and the first volume of comics ran all the way up until 1993.

In 1987 a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV show was released to appeal to a wider audience; including children. It accompanied related merchandise and toy deals made with Eastman and Laird, but this decision to become more family-friendly drastically changed the tone from that of the comics and isolated many of the early fans.

The continuing popularity of the animated show at the end of the 1980s lead to the first of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies in 1990. With the turtles and their Sensei Splinter being portrayed by actors in partially animatronic suits created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, this live-action adaptation showcased the turtles’ origins. The film became the second-highest-grossing independent film of all time, and until just last Friday was still the most successful film in the franchise.

Live-action sequels The Secret of the Ooze and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III followed the first but captivated fans less and less.

By 1996 even the the popularity of original animated TV series had faded as it aired its final episode, and in 1997 a live-action TV series including a fifth female ninja turtle was aired but lasted only one season.

At this point it would seem as though the extended Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise had become just an empty shell, bound to live on in comic book format alone. However the brand remained robustly armoured and was raring for a comeback.  In 2003 a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV series launched on FOX and rejuvenated the franchise for a new generation, with more of a nod to the dark roots of the comics than past adaptations.

The success of the FOX series lead to another addition to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies history in 2007, a computer-animated rendering of the infamous ninja quartet known as TMNT. This was followed two years later by Turtles Forever, a feature film which successfully tied together the old 1987 and new 2003 versions of the animated series, but of course, the franchise didn’t stop there.

In 2012 the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were again given a new lease on life, this time reanimated by Nickelodeon as CGI characters for a new generation of young fans. It was the success of this series which inspired the latest of the Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles movies produced by Michael Bay.

And so we reach the present day. There’s no denying that seeing this cult classic turned into something slick and contemporary adds to its action packed appeal. Though the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film has been met with mixed reviews, fans both new and old made it a box office success, standing with solidarity by the nostalgic, pizza-loving turtle brothers. But where will you stand? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is out in cinemas now.

We currently have an offer for 10% off on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles merchandise. So whether you’re a new or returning fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles go check it out on the Zavvi website.

Image Source: Paramount Pictures

Image Source: Paramount Pictures

Featured Image Source: Paramount Pictures

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Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts

Film Editor

Independent & foreign film aficionado, Pilsner lover and Rocket League troll. I’m a big fan of the work of directors like Wim Wenders and Wes Anderson, and a sucker for pretty cinematography. Will take an isometric, turn-based tactical RPG over an FPS any day of the week.


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