Get those pizzas ready as movie snacks because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is nearly here. The movie is set to premiere on August 2, 2023, in US theaters. Other regions or locales are subject to slight variations in the release date, some going as late as August 4, 2023.
It’s also worth noting that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has already held its advanced premiere back on June 12, 2023, at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival though only as a work-in-progress movie.
The film had been in production as far back as 2020 when Nickelodeon announced it as Mutant Mayhem. It was produced by Point Grey Pictures with Seth Rogen– also one of the voice actors in the movie, as one of the producers. The film is helmed by Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears as directors and co-writers, and Paramount Pictures will handle distribution.
One of the notable aspects that immediately stands out about the movie is its use of full 3D cel-shaded animation, similar to how the Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse series was rendered. It puts the film in a different light compared to the 2014 TMNT live-action adaptation starring Megan Fox.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will primarily explore the coming-of-age phase of the turtles’ lives, featuring younger versions of the superhero group along with their younger villain counterparts.
What Is TMNT: Mutant Mayhem About?
In a nutshell (or rather, a half-shell), Mutant Mayhem is about the teenage part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It doesn’t seem to be inspired by a particular comic book chapter or arc for its source material but rather from school notebook sketches.
Simply put, it’s a coming-of-age TMNT story featuring a more impulsive and rowdier gang of turtles and their oft-disgruntled father figure, Master Splinter.
Along the way, the turtles will cross paths with some of their most persistent villains, such as Superfly, Bebop, Rocksteady, Leatherhead, Genghis Frog, and Wingnut—most of whom are also undergoing their own teenage phases, apparently.
April O’Neil makes a return here as one of the few human friends to the turtles and Splinter, and she’s also younger. It’s not clear yet whether a younger Shredder will make an appearance or, at the very least, be in a teaser, but it’s still a possibility.
This iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will mostly revolve around themes such as being an outcast and the difference between a hateful and a more loving upbringing; the movie explores this through the stark contrast between the other mutants who hate the humans and the turtles who were raised to be benevolent beings by Splinter.
And despite the coming-of-age tag, making it appear as a film whose target demographics are children and teenagers, it’s a tale with timeless lessons that all ages can enjoy.
What Is The Premise & Where Does It Fit In The Timeline?
As we stated earlier, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem showcases a younger version of all the characters, making it canonically a flashback or past story.
Because in the main timeline of most TMNT media, April O’Neil is already an adult with a job, while the turtles have a more adult and more muscular frame.
The story begins one evening when the turtles go out for their sneaky trip to the surface world after Splinter forbade them (as usual). During their surface escapades, they ran into a curious teenager, April O’Neil, who was running her own independent reporter operation to uncover mutants lurking in New York City.
One of these mutants is a notorious gang leader named Superfly, who apparently plans to put mutants into power due to their prejudiced hatred toward humans. Initially, he and his gang, which includes the aforementioned Bebop and Rocksteady, try to sway the turtles to their side since all of them are mutants.
However, the turtles and their intact moral compass clashed with Superfly’s hate-filled ideals. Moreover, the turtles wanted to defeat and take down Superfly and his crime operation to gain the love and admiration of human beings with April O’Neil’s help.
Is It Canon?
The more important question for longtime TMNT fans would be whether Mutant Mayhem is canon or not. A lot of the villains and the events in the film, particularly the encounter between the other mutants and the turtles, were already well-established in the comic books and their adaptations.
Jeff Rowe, however, explains that they chose to be flexible with Mutant Mayhem’s officiality.
According to Jeff Rowe, “There were a lot of things that were skated past, and we took a lot of time to make it really operate from a place of character and relatability that, I think, will be shockingly emotional. The goal early on in our conversations with [co-writer] Seth [Rogen] were: ‘We want people to leave the theatre, and be like, ‘I can’t believe I just cried at a Ninja Turtles movie.'”
Hence, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will not be following one particular canon timeline or storyline from the TMNT franchise. Instead, it will do its own thing and be its own established canon while also borrowing from other storylines.
That should open up the possibility for future developments and Shredder or other TMNT villains to be involved.
A Stellar Cast With New Names
The voice actor cast for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is no doubt an exciting one because it mixes in veteran actors with some fresh names in the industry.
Jackie Chan is one of those veterans, and he plays none other than the cranky and tired Master Splinter. Meanwhile, Ice Cube will also be part of the cast as Superfly in a rather big and charismatic villain role. John Cena will also be present as Rocksteady, the rhinoceros mutant in Superfly’s gang.
Giancarlo Esposito, famous for being a Hollywood villain, is also there as Baxter Stockman; he’s a genius scientist involved in the mutant transformations all over New York. Paul Rudd is notably there, too, as Mondo Gecko (no need to explain what he is). Post Malone is Ray Fillet, a mutant manta ray. And last but not least, we have Seth Rogen (partly famous for his stoner movies) as Bebop himself, the mutant warthog who is quite a prominent figure in the TMNT villain gallery.
As for the turtles, they’re played by Micah Abbey (Donatello), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo), Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), and Brady Noon (Raphael). All of them are teenage actors, making the interactions with the supporting veteran cast more intense and nuanced.
That’s something you have to see and hear for yourself once Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem drops on August 2, 2023.