What You Never Knew About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
August 18, 2014
Voiceover (Doug): The Nostalgia Critic is missing, presumed fucking terrified. However, he did leave one extra video for you this week.
(Transition to actual video where NC is sitting in his usual spot)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to. And welcome to another installment of...What You Never Knew.
(The logo of What You Never Knew is shown with two large eyes)
Voice: I never knew that!
NC: This is where we look back at those movies you've seen a million times, but still managed to miss one or two little details. With that said, let's take a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
(We are shown clips from the 2014 film briefly)
NC: No, not that shit! I'm talking about the real Ninja Turtles, called the real Ninja Turtles, 'cause they're really fucking there!
(Clips from the 1990 version are shown)
NC (vo): The original, cinematic, best-looking Ninja Turtles from the 90s, and not when they looked like Sesame Street or ran their faces into a wall. We all love this corny nonsense from our past, but how much do we really know about it? What was going on in plain sight that you never noticed before? They're not behind the scenes facts or nitpicking plotholes, they're just the kick-ass little moments you never realized were making the movie even more kick-ass.
NC: Let's not waste any time. Let's take a look at the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
(The logo What You Never Knew About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is shown with an image of a turtle's shadow on the wall. This will serve as the background image as the numbers countdown. The number 15 is shown first)
NC (vo): We all know April O'Neal, but for a running joke, all the other reporters are named after months of the year as well.
Reporter #1: April O'Neal...
Reporter #2: Zachery June...
April: Do you know Mae Williams over at Channel 5?
NC (vo): April, May and June. Hey, if giant surfing turtles can be named after renaissance painters, anything flies.
April: It was a joke.
(The number 14 is shown)
NC (vo): If you look closely in the Foot's warehouse, you'll notice that there's a box for Archie Comics. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures at the time were also being produced by Archie Comics.
Raphael: Gosh. I do hope there's more of them.
(The number 13 is shown)
NC (vo): In another homage, listen closely to where this kid says the Foot Clan's hideout is.
Teenager: Check out the East Warehouse on the Lairdman Islands.
NC (vo): That's East Warehouse on Lairdman Island, a nod to Eastman and Laird, who were the original creators of the Ninja Turtles comics that started it all. Good in-joke there, kid. I hope you go places.
(The number 12 is shown)
NC (vo): This kid went places. He's Sam Rockwell.
(The number 11 is shown)
NC (vo): In the original comic, the Turtles all looked and acted identically, even down to wearing the same colored mask. When the cartoon came out, they gave them different personalities and different colored masks. However, if you were to see them in black and white, you still wouldn't be able to tell them apart. That's why in the film, they all had unique facial and body structures. Leonardo, for example, is the thinnest, tallest, and most even-balanced, Michelangelo is the most wide-eyed and expressive, Raphael is the most brute-like with stronger muscles and a permanent sneer, and Donatello always looks the most inquisitive, with his face often in pondering mode. Every one of these changes reflects their personality that was given to them. (Clips from the 2014 film are shown) More additions to wardrobe would carry over in the 2014 film as well, but, like I said, wall-to-face syndrome. Come on, guys. Would a bigger nose have killed you?
Raphael: Where'd they come up with this stuff?
(The number 10 is shown)
NC (vo): All the actors inside the Turtles suits also made appearances outside of the Turtle suits. Remember that pizza guy? That's Michelangelo. The Foot Soldier talking to April, that's Donatello. One of the gang members here, that's Leonardo. And remember that passenger watching Raphael flip over the cab? That's Raphael himself. And as an added bonus, Keno in the second Ninja Turtles film was actually the stunt double for Donatello. Hey, anyone who can work in those suits deserves their own part in the movie.
Leonardo and Michelangelo: Doesn't everybody?
(The number 9 is shown)
NC (vo): Does the voice of Splinter sound familiar to you?
Splinter: You are still young. But one day, I will be gone.
NC (vo): Right? He sounds exactly like Elmo.
NC: Well, okay, I don't care if you can't hear it, but it is the same guy!
NC (vo): Kevin Clash, both the puppeteer and voice for Elmo, did the exact same thing for Splinter, not only providing the voice, but also being one of the many puppeteers to operate him. Hey, as long as Elmo's vocals don't come out of his lips, I'm good.
Elmo: (dubbed over Splinter) Elmo's very happy to see you! (Laughs)
(The number 8 is shown)
NC (vo): People growing up with the Turtles today know all the characteristics, right? Leo's the leader, Donnie's the brain, Mikey's the goof-off, and Raph's the loner. But actually, in the cartoon, both Raph and Mikey were the goof-offs, the main difference being Raph was a bit more cynical and quick-witted, where Mikey was a bit more of a light-hearted doofus. When the movie came along, they decided both of them were a little too similar, so they made Raphael an angry and impulsive tough guy who often liked to do things on his own, where Michelangelo would handle more of the goofy humor. This would stick with them in future variations, including cartoons and movies.
Leonardo: Well, you act like a jerk sometimes, you know that?
(The number 7 is shown)
NC (vo): Remember the song "Turtle Power", the song that played during the end credits of the movie? (The song is heard briefly) I guess the rap group Partners in Kryme must've been real fans of the Turtles, huh? Bullshit! If you listen to the song, you'll hear clearly that they get the wrong Turtle who's the leader.
Partners in Crime: (rapping) Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello / Make up the team with one other fellow, Raphael. / He's the leader of the group...
NC: IT'S LEONARDO, YOU FUCK-KNOCKERS! LEONARDO!
NC (vo): This resulted in so many playground battles. "Did they get it wrong? Was Raph the new leader now? Was he always the leader? Did we just mis-interpret things?" This debate literally resulted in minutes, minutes of intense arguing among second-graders everywhere, and our throats are still sore. I hope your next project served as punishment for such a horrendous mistake!
(The poster for Cool as Ice is shown)
NC (vo): In fact, how does Ice always kill everything associated with Turtles?
Vanilla Ice: (rapping) Go, ninja! Go, ninja, go! Go, ninja! Go, ninja, go!
(NC groans in annoyance. The number 6 is shown. We are shown a scene of Leonardo and Raphael talking with each other. An arrow points to a man with a red hat hiding behind a chair)
NC (vo): Who the hell is that guy? Huh. Weird.
(The number 5 is shown)
NC (vo): A lot of people take this scene where Michelangelo ignores Donatello as him not listening or caring about what he has to say with Splinter.
Donatello: Hey, Mikey, did you ever think about what Splinter said tonight? I mean, about what it would be like...if, you know...not having him?
Michelangelo: Hmm...time's up. Three bucks off.
NC (vo): But there is another way to look at this. You ever notice later how Michelangelo is the one crying the hardest when they communicate with their lost master? It's totally possible that instead of ignoring Donatello, he could just be in denial, like the idea of him being gone is so painful, he'd rather not think about it at all. Maybe I'm reading too deep into it, but you never know. Food for thought.
(The number 4 is shown)
NC (vo): While many people think the movie is adapted from only the cartoon, it actually mixed up both the cartoon and the original comic. Most of us know the contributions from the show, but the backstory is more like the comic, the Shredder's design is more like the comic, the lack of robotic Foot Clan is more like the comic, the climax on top of the building is more like the comic, even the slightly darker tone and heavier shadows seem to be more like the comic.
(Footage from Batman is shown)
NC (vo): This came at just the right time, as Batman was released a year earlier and showed that a gritter take on comic books was totally doable.
(Back to Ninja Turtles)
Michelangelo: Wheel of Fortune, dude!
NC (vo): Well...mostly gritter.
Michelangelo: And I thought everybody loved Vanna.
(The number 3 is shown. A scene with Donatello is shown, with the scene paused and the camera focuses on Donatello's open mouth)
NC (vo): Oh, my God! Did Donatello eat somebody?! Actually, that's the puppeteer's mouth showing through. It happens a few times in the film. In fact, there are a few moments where you can see the wires, wear and tear, and like I said before, the puppeteers.
Michelangelo: Exactly...what point...did we lose control here?
(The number 2 is shown)
NC (vo): In honor of the recent passing of Robin Williams, I present a surprisingly small contribution that he made to the first Turtles film. You see, he was filming a movie called Cadillac Man, which he co-starred in with, well, Judith Hoag, who you would later know as April O'Neal. Being a big fan of the cartoon and comic, he was giving her advice and information about O'Neal's character, information she said later was very helpful. Nothing major, but it's good to know he was still influencing our childhoods one way or another.
(The number 1 is shown)
NC (vo): And the Number 1 Thing You Never Knew About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is...nobody wanted to make it. Weird, right? One of the most product-producing, merchandise-selling cash cows of the 80s and 90s, and the film based on it, nobody had any interest in. All the major studios turned it down. As a result, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is actually an independent movie. Yep, no studio bought it until months into filming, when then-newcomer New Line Cinema purchased it. As a result, your childhood icons became the highest-grossing independent movie of all time...that is, until Blair Witch Project came out about nine years later, but, hey, I'll take "Turtle Power" over seeing...nothing any time of the day.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Five years later, The Passion of the Christ claimed the title as the highest-grossing independent film of all time.)
Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga!
NC: Are there any more that you noticed? Are there any more little touches worth talking about? Well, leave them in the comments below and keep talking about a movie that's definitely worth talking about. I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.
(He gets up and leaves. The credits roll)