‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Co-Creator Peter Laird Hated The Turtle Noses, Too

We weren’t the only ones disappointed in how the turtles looked in the first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Michelangelo’s creepy human face spawned a meme, and now even TMNT co-creator Peter Laird is politely expressing disappointment in the new look during an interview with CBM.

The changes to the basic design of the Turtles seemed to me to fall into the “fixing what is not broken” category. It’s altogether possible that, in the context of this new movie, these designs will work well and not seem so odd, but I still point to what Jim Henson’s “Creature Shop” team did with their rendering of the Turtles in rubber and paint as the best translation (in live action, anyway) of the Turtles as Kevin Eastman and I created them. […] One thing that comes to mind if how cool it would be if someone did CGI versions of those same Henson designs, with all the incredible flexibility and seamless action potential available with today’s CGI.

If only.

Laird also pointed out another silly aspect of the trailer: Leonardo having thin bamboo armor when he already has a turtle shell.

That bamboo placemat really ties the whole shell together.

CBM: Another thing I found odd, but a predictable change, is that Shredder says, “Heroes are created.” This seems to imply that the Turtles are not products of an accident. Hollywood hasn’t seemed to embrace things just happening by accident. Everything has to be connected these days. Are you okay with that possible change?
PETER LAIRD: […] I have always found that accidental, somewhat random series of events culminating in the creation of the TMNT to be a significant part of the charm of the story. Somehow, retconning it to make their origin the result of deliberate action seems like a mistake. However, perhaps the writers have found a clever way to make this seems more palatable. We’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

CBM also asked Laird if he saw the improved photoshop version of the turtles. Not only has he seen them, but it led to a conversation about an insane live-action version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that could have been.

It’s interesting, and well done, and I think it points up one of the big problems (for me, anyway) with the new look created for the upcoming movie — with those noses and very expressive lips, their faces look too human. Perhaps it is just my own personal preference, but the “noseless beak” look […] is, in my opinion, a great way to immediately show that these guys are not human — they’re mutated reptiles. Creatures. […]

When I watched that trailer for the first time […] I immediately flashed back to the early days, back in 1984 or 1985 when we were living in Sharon, CT and just beginning to take steps into the world of licensing the TMNT. It was during that time that we received a letter from a small movie company — I think it was New World — offering us a deal to do a live-action TMNT movie, wherein they suggested that the way to go was to choose some (at that point in time) “hot” young comedians, dress them up in Turtle costumes, but leave their faces bare… except for a layer of green paint, so their zany comic expressions could be easily visible. … As you probably know, we turned that one down. Remember, this was well before the first animated TMNT series was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. It’s intriguing to contemplate what the history of the TMNT might have been had we accepted that first live-action movie offer. [emphasis ours]

Considering which young comedians were popular in the mid-’80s, we missed out on seeing Barry Sobel and Bobby Slayton in green face paint. Just kidding. We can always watch Martians Go Home for that.

You can check out the rest of the long interview over at CBM. We also have these four new posters for either Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or a weapons catalog. Could be either.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens August 8th.

Via CBM and First Showing