Little-known fact: Hard-nosed Mercury news reporter Dirk VanderHart is—like so many men of our failed generation—an expert on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I, too, went through a Turtles phase, circa 1991, and thus I thought I was pretty well-versed when it came to Ninja Turtle lore. After wading into a conversation with Dirk, however? It became readily apparent I was outclassed, outmatched, and out-ninja'd. Dirk knows his turtles, which means when the new trailer for the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot came online earlier this week, it was to Dirk that I turned.
• "The Foot Clan has GUNS?" was the first thing Dirk shouted while watching the trailer, and to be honest, this seemed to bother him more than anything else—not only in the trailer, but also in life.
• "They fucked up Shredder," Dirk said, shortly after the villain's reveal. "Big time. He’s supposed to be an intelligently malevolent force. He’s supposed to have character and schemes. Shredder’s a guy who’ll turn a warthog into a bumbling minion, just for the fuck of it. He’ll bristle under the sharp-tongued dictums of a Krang—who hasn't shown up in any of the trailers so far. You know what the Shredder in this trailer reminds me of? That enormous door that turns into an oafish robot piloted by goblins in Labryinth. In the goblin city. Do you remember this? If Shredder is a shithead robot or some sort of goblin suit, who's running the Foot? Where do they get their orders?"
Dirk, shaking his head violently, then made me look at this:
"Now," Dirk continued, "if somehow that Shredder suit is operated by a squeak-voiced talking, befanged brain? It'd be a perversion of the franchise, but one I can live with."
• I then asked Dirk if, as a news reporter, he identified with April O'Neil. "April O’Neil has always sort of been a Bechdel test mockery," Dirk noted. "They’ve got an opportunity here to do something interesting with that character, and it’s not remotely clear it will happen. To be fair, regarding not identifying with her: It’s hard, I think, for print journalists and TV reporters to identify. I could probably have a twin who worked for KATU and not understand where he/she was coming from. But honestly: Can you mount an argument that April O’Neil has ever been a compelling character? One thing I can say: I miss that weird yellow pantsuit/jumpsuit. Because what fucking reporter wears that?"
We then Google Image searched "April O'Neil" and quickly discovered the vast majority of fan artists online clearly have no issues whatsoever with O'Neil's jumpsuit.
"Oh, jeez," Dirk said, after looking at the images. "Now I feel creepy for saying that."
• Dirk! How do you feel about Johnny Knoxville voicing Leonardo? "Voices? I don't care."
• Dirk! How do you feel about Whoopi Golberg playing some turtle-doubting lady? "Whoopi? I'm on board."
• Then Dirk said something very astute: "Don’t you think the ending is oddly reminiscent of that one Anthony Lopez joke?"
YES, DIRK, I DO.
• I thought we were done, but Dirk kept going. "Beyond the initial conceit, Krang is the best thing that happened to the Turtles franchise," he continued. "To not at least nod to that excellence in a big-money blockbuster is incompetence at best. But how to play it? Will it be one of those glancing easter eggs for hardcore Krang fans? Say: A peek behind a secret door in some kooky, nefarious lab where we see a tiny mind calling some scientist 'Mama?' Or will it be more overt?"