The movie’s opening credits outlined its dedication to the source material from the off, with awesome, Sin City-esque cartoon-style animations detailing the origin of the turtles. These design stylings weren’t just based on the comics - Kevin Eastman, a co-creator of the turtles, drew some of the frames.
Aliens Be Stoopid
Way before the original movie started filming, leaked scripts revealed that the movie would simply be called ‘Ninja Turtles’, and that the turtles would be borne of alien maguffinry. So when April tells the story of her initial encounter with the turtles to her boss, and her boss questions whether they’re extra-terrestrial, April’s dismissive reply becomes far more meta and fan-servicing than you may originally realise.
“No, that’s stupid, they’re turtles.” Quite.
Check out alleged concept art for the alien turtles below (and then brace yourself for all the nightmares).
Mikey’s Rocket Skateboard
Sure, it’s silly, but hell if it isn’t cool.
Yep, Michelangelo’s rocket skateboard (used in the movie’s standout snowy mountain chase scene) tickled your inner 7-year-old, and there’s an easy reason why - it’s inspired by a toy accessory from the action figure range.
That’s So April
April’s reaction to meeting a bunch of giant, talking, weapon-wielding mutant turtles is pretty understandable and relatable - she faints.
It’s a tradition that’s long-established, from the 1987 cartoon to the 1990 movie and in various other incarnations since. Not only that, but eagle-eyed fans will note that Megan Fox was wearing a yellow jacket when she met the gang - again, a fan nod to every time she’s met them previously.
She may have had a small role in the movie, but Minae Noji’s ‘Karai’, the red-streaked Foot Clan lieutenant, has a substantial backstory in all the other TMNT comics/cartoons etc. Depending on the medium, she’s sometimes written as Shredder’s own daughter or niece, and has even been known to outrank him as a fearsome leader of the Foot Clan. We suspect she could end up having a larger part in the sequels.
Fans of Arrested Development will best know Will Arnett as Gob, his hilarious, mildly mental character from the iconic, beloved comedy show. It appears you can count the movie-makers as part of that fandom, as a couple of subtle nods tie Arnett’s Vern to Gob.
When April calls Vern, he’s in the midst of making a mustard and parmesan cheese sandwich - a particular fancy of Gob’s. For added hilarious subtext, there’s a George Michael song playing in the background - Gob’s nephew in Arrested Development is called George Michael. Amazing.
Arrested Development is available to watch now on Netflix
Daredevil & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Have The Same Origin
This may not be directly referenced in the movie, but it’d be impossible to talk Teenage Mutant Ninja Easter Eggs without referencing the biggest, nerdiest one of all.
In one of the finest displays of homage/parody Easter Egg-ing around, the first appearance from everyone’s favourite crime-fighting reptiles very heavily insinuated (but, for legal reasons, in no way explicitly stated) that the radioactive truck spill which put the ‘M’ in TMNT was the same one which blinded a young Matt Murdock.
While the connection is never categorically explained, the captions and panels certainly imply it. Of course, the first issue of Mirage’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic was released in 1984, while the first issue of Marvel’s Daredevil hit stands in April 1964.
And for no reason other than it’s awesome, here’s a gif of the fab foursome with lightsabers.
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