Ever since four turtles crawled out of the primeval ooze that’s the creative process of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the teenage ninjas have continued to mutate.
It started with the self-published black-and-white drawings created by Eastman and Laird in 1984 that became the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Before you could say “cowabunga,” the turtles were in a host of publications, TV shows and movies leading up to the latest feature film.
If you missed the big-screen exploits of Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo earlier this year, you can get the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, Dec. 16.
The new film — starring Megan Fox as April O’Neil (the Lois Lane of the reptile world) — features a darker look for the four. They look meaner and leaner but still have the hearts of juvenile warriors that’s been a constant with each adaptation.
“Even when we first started, there were other artists who liked drawing the turtles, and it was always exciting to see what they saw in them and what we didn’t see,” Eastman says.
Director Jonathan Liebesman’s team made them a gritter group of sewer dwellers, including a few more battle scars than the four have displayed before. Eastman compares the new design of the turtles to the more nature-driven approach former “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” artist Mateus Santolouco used when he drew the comic.
The film includes a major increase in O’Neil’s place in the Turtles’ story. The character has gone through several transformations since being introduced in the second issue of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as a computer programmer.
“She’s been a scientist, inventor and more of a sister to the turtles. The story in the movie is very similar to the IDW line of books where April was far more involved in the turtles from their naming to helping them escape,” Eastman says. “So, fans had already embraced that story.”
As a fan of big comic book movies such as “X-Men” and “Captain America,” Eastman has seen filmmaking and technology reach a level where it’s possible to produce anything he can imagine as an artist.
And in the case of the new movie, that means being able to bring even smaller moments from print to screen.
“I love the whole mood of the movie, but it’s a classic scene where the turtles are riding in an elevator and they start rapping that’s one of my favorite,” Eastman says. “When you read something like that on paper, you know it’s going to either be incredibly stupid or incredibly awesome. It’s awesome.”