With the upcoming release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Paramount Pictures is slowly, but surely, releasing new footage, teasers, and images of the reboot film. While fans heavily criticize the new look and direction of the Heroes In a Half-Shell, the new reboot could be a breath-of-fresh-air for TMNT overall. One of the biggest liberties that the screenwriters Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec and Evan Daugherty took with the property was with the villain The Shredder.
Traditionally, the character’s alter ego Oroku Saki is Japanese, but in the new film, the writers changed the villain’s ethnicity to a white American man named Eric Sachs, played by William Fichtner. While it remains to be seen if the new Shredder will be a marked improvement on the TMNT mythology, I’m more than willing to give the director Jonathan Liebesman the benefit of the doubt until I watch the film this August. That said, personally, I’m not very happy with a whitewashed Shredder because being Japanese is very integral to the character, who represents the idea of East meeting West, which makes the whole series a metaphor for Asian conformity in the United States. Recently, a new image surfaced showing off The Shredder’s new look. So, just based on looks (I can’t really compare the characters or performance because I have yet to watch the reboot film), but who is the better Shredder?
In the original 1990 film, The Shredder’s look was based on the comic book and the animated series. Asian American actor James Saito played the “Shred Head” in the first film, while Cambodian-American actor François Chau played him in the sequel. The way he was introduced in the first film was menacing. We got notes of a greater presence looming in the dark, but we actually don’t see the villain until less than half way through the movie. This made for an amazing reveal. The Shredder was sleek and agile, with only sharp blades to highlight his armor. By comparison, the new Shredder looks like his armor is practically all blades.
In the 2014 version of TMNT, The Shredder looks more like General Grievous from Revenge of the Sith than the Shredder we’re more familiar with. The image is from the new trailer that has yet to appear online, but was shown before screenings of How To Train Your Dragon 2 last weekend. The villain’s new look is big and bulky, which actually goes pretty well with the new turtles who are bigger than the originals. While many take issue with the size of the new Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo, I actually think that it can give us an opportunity for heavier action and more laughs. The only real problem I have with Shredder’s new look is that he looks otherworldly rather than a man in an armored suit. Aside from that, everything in the new movie seems much bigger than everything that came before it.
Based on the trailers, it seems that there is a bigger plan at play than just a random act that allowed four pet turtles and a rat to mutate into TMNT and their Master Splinter. The screenwriters seemingly wrote April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox, with a more important role in the turtles’ transformation. The character of Eric Sachs tell Ms. O’Neil that he and her father created heroes to bring justice back to the city. It seems like it’s implied that they created the turtles. While it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the movie, this story actually unifies the turtles’ origins with its characters and the city. In this way, The Shredder should play heavily, as the character is given agency, rather than merely acting on greed and revenge, which more or less, he was relegated to the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze in 1991.
At the end of the sequel film, The Shredder drinks the mysterious ooze that mutated the turtles and Splinter, and it turned him into, as they called him, “Super Shredder.” Although the mega-villain didn’t see much screen time, his size dwarfed the turtles and everything around him. It also seems that the reboot’s costume designers were taking cues from the Super Shredder with more blades and bigger armor. This iteration of The Shredder was more powerful and was less about agility.
The Shredder’s new look is very impressive! The new movie feels like a mix between The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight, which should be fine because this is a reboot. If I’m just basing my opinion on looks alone, the original Shredder is the one for me. The newer villain looks like an evil Samurai version of Edward Scissorhands. The idea behind the reboot also appears to be that bigger is better. The story, characters, and design of almost everything about the new film seems much bigger than everything that has come before it, but it remains to be seen if that means it will make things better for audiences and fans alike.