With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - the latest installment in the world's greatest multi-generational childhood-defining mutated turtle franchise - having hit cinemas this year, we've all had - one way of another - a pretty extreme reaction to it.
After all, no matter how fantastic (or otherwise) you think the movie is, a whole lot of people are going to feel as though it's destroying part of their childhood - either because it's too dark, and far away from the (beloved) cartoon series, or too silly, and far away from the (beloved) comics.
The thing is, the Turtles franchise has so many skeletons in its closet, there's really nothing the new movie could've done that'd destroy your childhood any more than the franchise already (without you knowing it) has...
The Comics Had Almost Nothing to Do With the TV Series
All Turtles fans probably know that the Pizza-fiend posse began life as a comic - and a pretty dark one at that. The fact that the series was violent, included curse-words, and actually showed weapons breaking skin is pretty much common knowledge nowadays.
That, though, isn't the biggest secret the comics are hiding.
That honor goes to this:
Or, rather, all of the comics in the years leading up to - and immediately following the release of - the animated series.
Sure, they were seriously weird, but they also bore only a passing resemblance to the Turtles we now know and love. True, they were giant anthropomorphic ninja turtles, who were teenagers, and they had the names of Renaissance artists, but that's more or less where the similarities end.
Raphael being the loner? Leonardo the leader? Donatello the tech expert? Michelangelo being the funny one?
Yeah, none of that was in the series. Heck, Shredder was hardly in it. Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady - pretty much all the villains we grew up loving? - they were all invented for the animated series.
The turtles didn't even have different colored bandanas.
So you could only tell which one was which when they physically labelled them. Because they're ninjas. Who are supposed to be stealthy, and anonymous.
As the cartoon's showrunner David Wise points out:
"Cowabunga? That was me. The pizzas? That was me. All of the stuff that everyone loves about them? That was me. But everyone else got rich."
And there was a reason for that:
The Only Reason We Love the Turtles Is a Merchandising Deal
Yup, that's right. Those comics that started off so dark? Well, they got steadily less so as soon as the creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were offered an insane amount of money for a merchandising and TV deal - on the condition that they toned down the book, and the characters.
A lot of people accuse them of selling out for their decision to plunge whole-heartedly into the deal - but that arguably misses the point.
When we were all 8, this wasn't the version of the Turtles we loved:
Or (and I definitely had a hard-boiled detective Donatello growing up...) this:
The animated series, and the toy-store loads of action figures? That's why we loved the turtles so much.
The thing is, we loved that stuff precisely because toy companies are really good at selling it to us.
That, and April O'Neil.
Who, of course, was based on a completely unrelated character from the comics...
The Movies Included the Second Darkest Moment of the 90's
The movies, though. They were awesome, right? The perfect blend of action, comedy and the anarchic streak that made us actually love the team. And product placement, obviously:
The thing is, though, they also included this:
As in, there's a scene in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, where the turtles are fighting in a nightclub, and Vanilla Ice improvises a rap.
Which was then released as a single. And the horrifying music video above.
Which still pales into charming insignificance compared to:
The Actual Darkest Moment of the 90's Was Sponsored by Pizza Hut
That, though, wasn't all...
There was also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells. A live musical tour in 1990. Sponsored by Pizza Hut. And by sponsored, we really mean sponsored.
Be warned, the following video may actually destroy your childhood, ears, eyes and taste-buds. And really make you want a Pizza Hut pizza:
And...now I'm blind.
So, the original cartoons, movies, action figures and everything else was all just a merchandising ploy - and possibly a dark conspiracy to make us all listen to Vanilla Ice while eating Pizza Hut pizza. But the comics - even if they changed a little - were still awesome, right? For everyone who just loved those, the new movie could still totally ruin the Turtles...
Well, not so much, since:
The Comics Already Michael Bay'd the Turtles...Back in 1996
Yup, back in 1996, Image comics put out a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic-book series, and it got dark. Really dark.
As in, Splinter ended up becoming a mutant bat, Leonardo lost a hand, Donatello was blown up and made into a cyborg, and Raphael ended up being so badly hurt in an accident that he ended up becoming Shredder.
All of which, thankfully, was made non-canon a few years later when someone realized that they weren't making SAW: The Comic.
So y'know what? No matter what issues you may have with him, Michael Bay might not actually be able to do anything worse to the Turtles than has already been done by every other generation of Turtles creator.
And we didn't even mention Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.
With Venus De Milo.
A Turtle with breasts.
[Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles](movie:323027) is out...right about now. And thankfully didn't feature Venus de Milo.