Jonathan Liebesman's reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie franchise hit an unexpected snag last week when producer Michael Bay announced, rather cavalierly, that the new heroes on the half-shell were aliens. It seemed like news at the time, but it's hard to imagine the folks at Platinum Dunes anticipating the fan backlash over the change, which implied that the new film was ignoring the whole "mutant" part of the series' title. Well, that's okay. They're ignoring the "teenage" part too, at least in the title. According to a new report at Bleeding Cool, the upcoming film will just be called Ninja Turtles.
The report claims that the new name has been "verified," but of course these things are subject to change. Not unlike John Carter, which went through several name changes during its production before finally settling on the least evocative moniker of all. Some folks blame that film's bland title, at least in part, for the $250 million production's failure at the box office, so it's odd to discover that Bleeding Cool's source actually name drops that campaign when explaining their decision to shorten the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle title. The quote reads, "It seems to be driven by marketing. Think of John Carter and how Disney wouldn’t allow for a title with either “Princess” or “Mars.""
Still, Ninja Turtles probably does a better job of getting the point across in the long run than John Carter ever did. Aside from Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael's relative immaturity, the two most prominent descriptors in the original series' title really were the "ninja" and "turtle" parts. While John Carter was probably a little mystifying to folks who weren't actively familiar with the Edgar Rice Burrough's pulp series, whose popularity has waned considerably in recent decades, it's unlikely that anyone with even a passing familiarity with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's creations will hear the phrase "ninja turtle" and not make the connection. And it certainly frees them to ignore the "mutant" part. Maybe even the "teenage" part as well, if that's the direction they're going in.
Either way, it's still a pretty major retcon of the well-established franchise, and only time will tell if the change works in the reboot's favor. Or even if the new title sticks.
CraveOnline will be back with more Ninja Turtles news after we pray for an Usagi Yojimbo cameo.