This article contains spoilers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. If you haven’t seen it yet, you have been warned…
Thanks to stunning animation and a witty, heartfelt script, Mutant Mayhem is easily the best cinematic outing for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to date.
The Seth Rogen co-scripted reboot has charmed critics and delighted the audiences who have seen it so far. It’s on track for a blockbuster opening, although it remains to be seen whether that’s enough to take down the Barbenheimer behemoth.
Paramount seem to think so, as the end credits feature a tantalising tease that there’s more trouble on the horizon for Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello…
Before the dramatic reveal at the end of this mid credits scene, we see the Turtles having the happy ending they spent the whole movie dreaming of. Having saved New York City from Superfly (Ice Cube), they’re embraced as heroes alongside all the other mutant creatures who helped them stop the big bad’s attempts to wipe out the human race.
As a result, they now get to rise out of the sewer and have the typical teen lives that previously eluded them, enrolling in April O’Neil’s (Ayo Edebiri) high school and leaping head first into different after school clubs. It’s a very sweet, well-earned finale, but there are still signs of more danger on the horizon for the heroes in a half shell, with another villain waiting in the wings to take them on.
Here comes Shredder…
As the gang are dancing away at their school prom, the camera pulls back to reveal they remain under surveillance by Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph) and the Techno Cosmic Research Institute, who have been obsessed with the creatures from the Ooze for the past 15 years.
With Superfly taking up this movie’s primary villain role, Cynthia and the TCRI have lurked in the background, but this ending shows she still has far more power than he ever did – there’s even the hint that the fly in a glass jar next to her is Ice Cube’s baddie, shrunk back down to size.
It’s open to interpretation whether this is a simple visual gag, or a hint that he’s now at the mercy of the institute, who are keeping him to team up with the powerful villain they’ve got waiting in the wings.
But even if he does return in the previously announced sequel or Paramount+ spin-off series, he won’t be the primary threat. That’s a role left for the franchise’s most iconic villain, Shredder, who we view only in an intimidating silhouette; with Cynthia Utrom still wanting to capture the turtles to extract their blood and create a new army of mutant warriors with it, he will be central to the success of that plan.
Who is Shredder?
The main antagonist of the turtles, and one of the best comic book supervillains of all time, Shredder is the leader of the Foot Clan, a ninja organisation who become the central rivals to our pizza loving protagonists.
He’s a fierce adversary largely through his suit of armour, which is kitted out with metal blades, including two blades for each hand – you wouldn’t want to get in a fight with him, to put it simply. Or follow him through airport security with all that metal.
He’s appeared in every iteration of the franchise to date, which has led many fans to ask why he doesn’t play a role in Mutant Mayhem. In a recent interview with Polygon, director Jeff Rowe (who previously made the similarly delightful The Mitchells Vs The Machines) explained that, because this was an adult villain, placing him next to teenage protagonists within their origin story didn’t feel particularly organic from a writing perspective.
Rowe said: “That was our first impulse: OK, yeah, the villain is Shredder, and then we were like, Well, who is the character of Shredder and how does he relate to these kids?
“And it’s like, Well, he’s… an adult? Why is he crossing paths with the team? It was just so hard to write. It didn’t feel organic.
“We ultimately found ourselves needing to make the villain a mutant, like the turtles — someone that could relate to them over that. Someone who had a really similar backstory to them, where they also felt alone and alienated and had this mistrust of humans.
“That is what led us to Superfly, and once we once we had that, and that started connecting, everything else had to drop out to support that.”
So with the Ninja Turtles now established heroes, expect their rivalry with Shredder to feel more organic than ever before in the upcoming sequel. No release date has been announced, but we expect work on it to start very soon.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is in UK cinemas now.