Nostalgia can be a wonderful and powerful thing. It has the ability to ensure that the things you loved as a child endure for a lifetime. And anyone who is a child of the 80s and 90s understands this feeling all too well. More than likely you had the opportunity to witness the golden age of weekday and Saturday morning cartoons. If you happened to be a connoisseur of such fine visual fare, the late 80s cartoon “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was the cream of the crop. In fact, I gather most of you could sing the words to their wonderfully catchy theme song:
Those unfamiliar with the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, here’s a rundown: Each named after a renaissance painter/artist, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are created after a truck accidentally unloaded a small canister of nuclear waste into a sewer. These guys fight crime and battle an array of enemies, most notably the Shredder. They are aided by news reporter April O’Neil and one time nemesis/fellow vigilante Casey Jones aka “The Sports Warrior”.
For some, a reminder of their favorite tv show or cartoon can bring a flood of positive emotions. Or evoke nightmares. Which brings us to the 2014 version of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. The latest iteration, produced by Michael Bay (Yes. That Michael Bay.) and directed by Jonathan Liebesman, finds our heroes with the same lineup: April O’Neil (Megan Fox), The Shredder (William Fichtner), our renaissance painter themed turtles and their giant rat sensei. Only this time, their look and origin story is slightly different. Which seemed to caused quite a stir in the fanboy community. In fact, this version of the turtles looks nothing like the original:
But this isn’t the only time this property has endured reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings. Unfortunately, that trend will continue. What’s popular 20 years ago will more than likely be popular again. As best explained by Kurt Andersen in a Vanity Fair piece entitled, “You Say You Want a Devolution?”:
Part of the explanation, as I’ve said, is that, in this thrilling but disconcerting time of technological and other disruptions, people are comforted by a world that at least still looks the way it did in the past. But the other part of the explanation is economic: like any lucrative capitalist sector, our massively scaled-up new style industry naturally seeks stability and predictability. Rapid and radical shifts in taste make it more expensive to do business and can even threaten the existence of an enterprise…Capitalism may depend on perpetual creative destruction, but the last thing anybody wants is their business to be the one creatively destroyed. Now that multi-billion dollar enterprises have become style businesses and style businesses have become multi-billion dollar enterprises, a massive damper has been placed on the general impetus for innovation and change.
In other words, it’s all a part of the times. Although profit may be the reason behind this latest version, consumers tend to cling to what they know. Which is why remakes like this get done, and then face a tremendous amount of backlash.
But take heed fanboys. No need to get upset because your favorite cartoon, based on a comic book, turned into a movie, got the re-boot treatment.
Although you have to admit, it still doesn’t top the original 1990 movie (but it’s close enough):