One of fallacies most often regurgitated onto the bib of the internet concerns the “ruining” of things from your childhood. I remember when the concept first got its shine, in the talkback of an AintItCool.com story in the late ‘90s. Except then, “ruining” was replaced with a less-kind word that also begins with the letter "r".
This concept was then, and still is, pure bullshit. You are the only person responsible for “ruining” your childhood memories, which you’re likely overhyping anyway, given that the average American childhood is full of wrecked bikes, wet beds, shat pants, public embarrassment and general dismissal of your whole existence by anyone taller than five feet. Your childhood was probably already ruined while you were living it. It’s why you were in such a rush to escape.
But let’s say your childhood was as cool as you remember it, even if your bar for “cool” is set at “I watched a lot of half-hour commercials for toys,” and you can’t stop revisiting those halcyon days like a nostalgia-addicted wizard at Hogwarts, head constantly dunked in the pensieve, trying as hard as you can to drag every last wispy tendril of joy from that birdbath of dreams and reanimate them.
In that scenario, I can see why you’d shiver at the prospect of a reboot or an adaptation, finding eight year-old you in your pajamas, making explosion noises while throwing molded plastic from the back of the couch to the floor (which is lava or tar or quicksand). Like an invisible T-800, that adaptation vworps into existence, terminating all that sun-dappled joy with extreme prejudice, leaving shattered plastic, soggy jammies, and nostalgic carnage in its wake.
Even allowing for that level of fantastical psychosis, I still don’t get how the hell you could worry over a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie.
Robocop? I kinda get the handwringing there. There’s more to Robocop than just blood and one-liners, and while a bad remake will do absolutely nothing to your existing VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, or Laserdisc(!) copies, an adaptation that jettisons all subtext for extra shootbang cyborg action would be a missed opportunity.
But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
I mean, like…
Just look at those four words, placed adjacent to one another. Read them out loud. In a row:
Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles.
What the fuck, right?
The unapologetic goofiness is endearing. It mandates you shrug, grin, and maybe you don't say the above, but you feel the what-the-fuck of it. It’s designed to provoke that reaction: “Their leader is a Yoda-rat.” Fuck it! “Their villain is made of razor blades!” Sure! “Except for when their villain is an interdimensional malevolent talking brain that steers a robotic fetish daddy around!” I could be no more down to do this, sir. Hit me with Bill Nye the Brundle-Guy and his army of bitey toasters, while you’re at it. Wait, they got a van that shoots weaponized pizzas? Fuckin’ floor it, dude. Let’s go.
If ever there was a concept that is almost completely failure-proofed, it’s the concept of sewer-dwelling mutated adolescent reptilian practitioners of martial arts. This is proven by the numerous storytelling failures such a concept has incurred with nary a lasting scratch to its ever-appealing shell. The Turtles are not a precious, delicate thing that need be handled with the utmost care. They’d be pretty crappy mutant ninjas if they were.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying you’re silly for hoping Jonathan Liebesman’s live-action Ninja Turtles movie will be good. I’m not even saying you’re silly for wanting a coherent story with decent characterization. Regardless the subject matter, you should want that from every movie you sit in front of. And thanks to the flexibility provided by this ridiculous concept, fans of the Turtles have multiple, glowing examples of both story and characterization (sometimes even simultaneously) in the 30 (fucking 30) years since Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created their parody of all things grim ’n’ gritty in ‘80s comics.
But that said: Goddamn has there been some shit winged at the fan over those three decades. A couple examples from that shredded diaper:
And yet, for all that garbage, for all those failures, for every aesthetic assault ranging on a pain scale from “grazed ballsack” to “live vivisection,” those four words, arranged consecutively, form a concept that is damn near indestructable.
Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles.
Between 2009 and 2013, they were responsible for almost 500 million dollars in toy sales. If this property can maintain that much appeal even after something as straight-up awful as Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, or as teeth-grindingly bullshit as their first appearance on the Nintendo Entertainment System...
...then I’m fairly certain that even if Liebesman’s adaptation is garbage, it will be garbage quickly swept away by whatever the next form Turtle Power might take. And there will be one. Your delicate childhood is not under threat of permanent damage. Your memories are safe in that pensieve. William Fichtner is not going to come stomping into your wood-paneled ‘80s living room to melt Leonardo and twister your titties. It’ll just be a swing-and-a-miss like the many that have come before, easily forgotten in the face of the smirking, everlasting absurdity that is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I mean, it's not like they're making new Star Wars movies or anything.