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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem - Everything You Need To Know

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been getting into pizza-eating, butt-kicking antics since they were created by comic artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1983. Initially a parody of superhero comics, the crime-fighting adolescent reptiles eventually became a surprising hit, launching a toy line and a Saturday morning cartoon that gave way to video games, TV shows, and multiple movies. In fact, their first live-action venture in 1990 became the highest-grossing indie film at the time of its release.

And now, the heroes in a half-shell are back in a brand new adventure. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" is shaping up to be one of 2023's most promising releases, featuring visually stunning animation and plenty of martial arts action. Of course, we're assuming you've got questions about the upcoming flick, like who's starring, who's directing, and when you can expect to see Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo burst out of the sewers and onto the big screen. Well, read on for everything we know so far about "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem."

When will Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem be released?

It's been seven years since "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" arrived on movie screens on June 3, 2016. Originally, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" was slated for an August 11, 2023 release. However, in January 2021, Paramount Pictures announced quite a few changes to the studio's schedule after emerging from the pause in theatrical exhibition brought on by the COVID pandemic, with titles like the "Mission: Impossible" movies getting new release dates and other films also getting moved around.

As it turns out, "Mutant Mayhem" also got shuffled off to a new day. Fortunately for Turtles fans, we'll now get to see the film significantly sooner. Currently, the movie will hit theaters on August 2, 2023. But "Mutant Mayhem" will only have two days to itself at the box office before "The Meg 2: The Trench" surfaces on August 4. Both will duke it out at the box office for a couple of weeks until they receive theatrical competition from another young hero, in the form of DC Comics' Blue Beetle, whose own debut flick will be released on August 18.

What is the plot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" will focus on the early days of the Turtles' crime-fighting career, as they navigate the Big Apple and try to show everyone their heroic intentions.Not only do they want to be accepted as heroes, but they seek affirmation and acceptance as normal teenagers. Somehow, the path they choose to normalcy involves taking down mutant crime boss Superfly. Of course, the Turtles meet a new friend on the way in the form of April O'Neil, a human teenager who becomes the Turtles' most trusted partner in fighting crime. 

The four half-shelled brothers and April find themselves completely out of their element, though, when Superfly unleashes a dangerous mutant army upon New York City. The plan? Eliminate all humans. To save their hometown, the Turtles and their ingenious friend (along with their master Splinter) must save the entire city from mutated villains of all shapes. Some of those menacing mutants will include the likes of Bebop and Rocksteady, Leatherhead, Genghis Frog, Mondo Gecko, Wingnut, and the mad scientist Baxter Stockman. Will they be too much for the Turtles to handle? Well, we're assuming our ninja buddies will get the job done, but the movie is definitely emphasizing their youth and inexperience, putting an extra emphasis on the "teenage" part of their name.

Who is starring in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" boasts an A-list cast, with veteran actors and comedians filling out the supporting parts. But before we start looking at side characters, who will be playing the star-throwing, sai-wielding, mask-wearing Turtles?

Nicolas Cantu is playing the leader of the group, Leonardo. If you're a fan of "The Amazing World of Gumball," his voice will definitely sound familiar to you as he played Gumball himself in Seasons 5 and 6. The brainy Donatello is voiced by Micah Abbey, who plays Leaf in Nickelodeon's "Cousins for Life." The wisecracking Michelangelo is portrayed by Shamon Brown Jr., who previously starred as Stanley "Papa" Jackson in "The Chi," while the gruff Raphael is voiced by Brady Noon, who played Evan Morrow in "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers."

As for the rest, the legendary Jackie Chan plays Master Splinter, the Turtles' rodent mentor. Ayo Edebiri of "The Bear" portrays April O'Neil, our heroes' human ally. Seth Rogen and John Cena will voice iconic big baddies Bebop and Rocksteady, while their fellow mutants will be voiced by Hannibal Buress as Genghis Frog, Rose Byrne as Leatherhead, and Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko. Post Malone plays the aquatic Ray Fillet, Natasia Demetriou of "What We Do in the Shadows" keeps things batty as Wingnut, and Giancarlo Esposito will voice mad scientist and longtime Turtle foe Baxter Stockman.

Who are the new characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

Some movies would be content to cast Bebop and Rocksteady opposite the Turtles, maybe throw in a Shredder scene, and call it a day. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" is going deeper. In addition to bringing back a bunch of classic "TMNT" villains like Leatherhead and Baxter Stockman, "Mutant Mayhem" is introducing at least two new characters to the franchise.

The first is the Ice Cube-voiced Superfly. This mutant fly is the menacing overarching villain and organizer of all the other vengeful mutants in the Seth Rogen-produced animated film. In addition to Ice Cube, actress Maya Rudolph has apparently joined the cast in the role of Cynthia Utrom.

While the Utroms may be familiar to "Turtles" fans, Cynthia is a brand new character. We haven't seen or heard from her at all in the early trailers, so we aren't sure exactly what form Rudolph's character will take. However, in the "TMNT" universe, the Utroms are the alien species that the enemy warlord Krang belongs to. Perhaps this is a hint at who the villain of a potential sequel could be.

Who is producing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

As the trailer for "Mutant Mayhem" proudly proclaims, the film comes from "permanent teenager" Seth Rogen. The movie's co-producer, Rogen is best known for writing, directing, and playing in acclaimed comedies like "Superbad," "Pineapple Express," and "This Is the End." Rogen has also produced quite a few of his films alongside Evan Goldberg and James Weaver, who join him here as co-producers.

Going into "Mutant Mayhem," Rogen has expressed interest in focusing on the inherent coming-of-age aspects of the franchise. "As a lifelong fan of Ninja Turtles, weirdly, the 'Teenage' part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was always the part that stuck out to me the most," Rogen said in an interview with Collider. "And as someone who loves teenage movies, and who's made a lot of teenage movies, and who literally got their start in their entire profession by writing a teenage movie, the idea of kind of honing in on that element was really exciting to us."

Rogen certainly has a fresh mindset when approaching the nearly 40-year-old franchise. In fact, even "Ninja Turtles" co-creator Kevin Eastman admits he's pretty psyched to see the film. "I'm a huge fan of Seth Rogen," he told IGN, "and I'm excited to see what he does."

Who is writing and directing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

With Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg producing, who's directing "Mutant Mayhem"? The job of shepherding the Turtles to the big screen has gone to Jeff Rowe, who co-wrote Netflix's "The Mitchells vs. the Machines." He's also served as a writer on both "Gravity Falls" and "Disenchantment," proving he's quite adept at mastering the medium of animation.

"Mutant Mayhem" is Rowe's directorial debut, and while praising the film's production designer, Yashar Kassai, on Twitter, Rowe wrote, "The colors are cool and unexpected. We wanted to throw out the animation playbook on this one." Based on the visuals we've seen, it looks like "Mutant Mayhem" will stand alongside the aforementioned "Mitchells vs. the Machines" and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" when it comes to incredible designs. Rowe has also compared the film to some coming-of-age classics, telling Empire, "We wanted it to be like 'Stand By Me' and 'Lady Bird.' But you know, with Ninja Turtles ... They've got a lot of that inauthentic confidence that teenagers have. When you're a teen, you don't know any better, so you operate with this hyped-up sense of, 'We can do anything!'"

As for who wrote the script, Rowe, Rogen, and Goldberg all share credit, along with Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit.

Is there a trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

There are now two trailers for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem." In the initial teaser we see our heroes in a half-shell emerge from the sewers onto the streets of New York City. It opens with the foursome hanging out on a rooftop, goofing off and slicing up watermelons with various martial arts weaponry ... and causing a bit of collateral damage along the way. The trailer ends with the Turtles talking with April O'Neil, as they eagerly explain their origin story.

In the first full trailer, a lot more is shown of the upcoming "TMNT" adventure. We get a glimpse into what the Turtles' home life is like and get a first glimpse at what Jackie Chan sounds like as Splinter. It also gives us more information on the new big bad Superfly. By working with April, the Turtles plan on taking Superfly down in order to finally be accepted as not just heroes, but teens worthy of a social life.

The first full trailer also gives us a glimpse of all the mutants that the Turtles will wind up facing in their ill-advised quest for acceptance. Most of all, we get to see more of the colorful and highly stylized art that makes "Mutant Mayhem" such an aesthetic stand-out.

Who is on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem soundtrack?

The first trailers for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" feature the classic hip-hop song "Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest. This choice can't help but evoke 1991's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" soundtrack and Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap." However, there appears to be more to the "Mutant Mayhem" soundtrack than just '90s rap. 

According to the film's director and one rogue celebrity, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails have been tapped to score "Mutant Mayhem." In a funny twist of fate, the news actually came out after skateboarding legend Tony Hawk let it slip in an interview podcast (via YouTube). "Mutant Mayhem" director Jeff Rowe took to Twitter to get on top of the leak and announced the official collaboration with Reznor and Ross on May 28. Rowe wrote, "Well now that my teenage hero @tonyhawk has leaked that my music heroes are doing this I can add that the score is absolutely AMAZING. Exhilarating, terrifying, heartbreaking, full of sounds I didn't know existed."

It's unclear how much of the soundtrack to "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" will be Reznor and Ross's original work and how much will be licensed songs from artists in the vein of "Can I Kick It?" If we had to guess, we'd say there will likely be a little of both, but maybe that's wishful thinking.

Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem part of an existing canon?

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been brought to the big screen a number of times already. The last outing was 2016's largely forgotten live-action sequel "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows." We get that it's hard for anyone who's not a hardcore "TMNT"-head to understand where the newest animated movie falls in the canon. Luckily, the answer is surprisingly simple: we are starting with a clean slate in a brand new decade for the Turtles. 

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" is not part of an existing "TMNT" timeline. The upcoming animated feature is a full reboot of the franchise. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's approach of exploring the four turtles as modern teens requires a full reset of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" mythology. The vibrant art style also marks "Mutant Mayhem" as a distinctly new story with new interpretations of the characters we have all loved since the 1980s (or whenever you were introduced to the Turtles).

"Mutant Mayhem" might be a fresh start, but there's a high likelihood it won't be the only animated "Turtles" in this continuity. If the movie succeeds, Paramount has already hinted that it may want more animated films from this "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise. 

Will there be a sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" doesn't hit theaters until August 2, but there have already been hints that this stylish new take on the Turtles is the start of a new animation initiative at Paramount. In 2022, Variety asked Paramount Chief Executive Officer Brian Robbins about the plans for rebooting the "TMNT" series and more "Mutant Mayhem." Robbins replied, "It's going to work for kids, parents, Gen Z-ers and millennials. We have plans to do multiple animated movies this way, but one day we might go back to a hybrid live-action version of the Turtles."

This statement shines some light on the future of the franchise, while still being frustratingly vague. Robbins teases a return to live-action Turtles movies, but seems to definitely imply that if "Mutant Mayhem" succeeds it will garner sequels. The phrasing is nebulous enough that Robbins could solely be committing to more animated movies in this modern Sony Pictures Animation-inspired style.

Both interpretations of the statement from the Paramount CEO seem likely, though, so if "Mutant Mayhem" connects with audiences, expect there to be more animated "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movies in the future.

Where to watch other TMNT movies and shows

While you're waiting for "Mutant Mayhem," you might want to catch up on previous Turtle content — and there's a lot.

If you want to check out the original Saturday morning cartoon that helped launch the Turtles into mainstream pop culture, you can purchase each season on Apple iTunes. If you want to see the Turtles in live-action, you can buy "Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation" on Amazon Prime. Fans of the 2003 Fox series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" can check out all seven seasons on Paramount+, while fans of the 2012 Nickelodeon series can find three seasons on Paramount+ and two seasons on Netflix. And if you're looking for "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," the two-season series is also available on Paramount+, with one season also available on Netflix, along with the follow-up movie.

If you want to see the Turtles in their first feature film, you can rent it on Amazon Prime, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube. The film's less beloved follow-up, "The Secret of the Ooze," is also available to rent on the same platforms, as is the third film in the franchise, which takes the Turtles back to feudal Japan.

The first Michael-Bay produced "TMNT" movie, released in 2014, is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Paramount+. The second, subtitled "Out of the Shadows," can be streamed on Paramount+ and Pluto TV. Lastly, if you're more in an animated frame of mind, you can rent 2007's "TMNT" on Amazon Prime, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube.