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Easter Eggs And References You Missed In TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

Paramount brings the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back to the big screen –- this time in animated form –- to deliver a new take on their origins and have them face a new band of enemies in "Mutant Mayhem." The film sees the titular teenage turtle brothers -– Leo (voiced by Nicolas Cantu), Donny (Micah Abbey), Mikey (Shamon Brown Jr.), and Raph (Brady Noon) -– live in the New York City sewers alongside their father figure and mentor Splinter (Jackie Chan). As they begin to explore the human world above them, they discover a band of evil mutants led by the brooding Superfly (Ice Cube). So, with the help of dedicated high school reporter April O' Neil (Ayo Edebiri), the turtles try to stop Superfly's plans and make the humans see them as heroes.

Although "Mutant Mayhem delivers a new and more modern take on "TMNT," there are a lot of little Easter eggs and references that fans of all generations will undoubtedly adore. From interesting villain additions that hint at a potentially strong future for this franchise, to some delightful pop culture nods that everyone can enjoy, "Mutant Mayhem" is jam-packed with references to the turtles' history in comics, movies, and beyond. We even get a very cool callback to the live-action films from the '90s. So, without further ado, let's delve into some of the best (and most easily missed) Easter eggs and references of "Mutant Mayhem."

Baxter and Superfly

The film's opening gives viewers an insight into the origins of Superfly and his creator, Baxter Stockman (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) -– two characters who are usually seen as one. In other versions of "TMNT" lore, Baxter ends up becoming Superfly after his mad scientist antics go too far and he ends up mutating himself with DNA from a housefly. Most of Baxter's incarnations tend to go this route, so it's pretty noteworthy that he stays human by the end of "Mutant Mayhem." Although fans don't get to see Baxter transform into Superfly himself, the special connection that he has to Superfly when he's just a larger-than-life fly is undoubtedly paying homage to their connection in the comics.

Baxter explains that he never could connect with other people and was always closer to the animals he experimented on — which is why he essentially treats Superfly like a son. Their unique bond definitely acts as a nod to their connection in the comics, and maybe Baxter will want to become a new Superfly after hearing about his beloved son's defeat. Or maybe Baxter will leave mutations behind altogether and create his mechanical army of Mousers and eventually take on his more cybernetic form (which also stems from the comics). Regardless of where Baxter's story goes from here, his connection with Superfly takes a new form that ties perfectly to their comic origins. 

A bigger plan at play?

One of the first big villains fans are introduced to in "Mutant Mayhem" is Cynthia Utrom (voiced by Maya Rudolph) — the shady leader of the TCRI who wants to turn Baxter's mutants into destructive weapons. While she's more of a minor antagonist in "Mutant Mayhem," Cynthia clearly shows potential for a larger role in the franchise — one that could lead to an exploration of her alien origins. Cynthia's last name "Utrom" actually ties her to the alien species of the same name who pose as humans running the company TCRI as a front for their nefarious endeavors. They're small resemble grotesque brains that squirm around and cause a lot of trouble for the turtles. Most importantly, they're heavily tied to the appearance of Krang — one of the most well-known and destructive villains in "TMNT." 

This early appearance from Utrom and the TCRI paves the way for some big story potential and the introduction of big villains. So, Cynthia's role in the film acts as an elevated Easter egg to a wider threat that the turtles could face in the future and bring some of their intergalactic foes to Earth. 

Caught between worlds

Although the "TMNT" comics have mostly been published by companies like Mirage Studios and IDW, "Mutant Mayhem" delivers nods to two publishing titans — Marvel and DC. In the turtles' early introduction, Leo attempts to set a dark and serious tone until his brothers call him out for trying to sound like Batman. We also get some direct nods to Mark Ruffalo's improv skills in the MCU through Mikey, inspiring him to follow his own improv dreams. Given the immense popularity of both Marvel and DC, it's not shocking to see "Mutant Mayhem" poke fun at its comic counterparts. 

However, "Mutant Mayhem" touching on Marvel and DC is also fitting considering how "TMNT" has been inspired by and crossed over into their worlds. The turtles not only had a crossover film with Batman in 2019's "Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," but also appeared in the DC fighting game "Injustice 2." As for Marvel, TMNT has always shared some intriguing connections to Daredevil — which makes sense since creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were heavily inspired by the character when creating the turtles. There's even a scene from the comics that connects the chemical that blinds Matt Murdock to the chemical that mutates Splinter. It's a little surprising that "Mutant Mayhem" doesn't have more Daredevil nods, but it still delivers some fun references to the turtles' history with Marvel and DC. 

A big inspiration

When the group is looking for something to do in NYC before heading back to the sewers, they decide to catch an outdoor movie screening in Brooklyn where a bona fide classic is playing. The turtles end up seeing the John Hughes classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and it's even in live-action to give some nice visual contrast. While the sheer moment of this film playing in "Mutant Mayhem" would be enough to make it a pretty cool nod to a coming of age classic, it actually plays a meaningful thematic role for the turtles. In some ways — similar to Ferris' buddy Cameron in the film — the turtles look up to Ferris and aspire to be as widely accepted and liked as he is. 

Ferris is like the turtles' personal superhero for his unabashed courageousness and ability to be loved by just about everyone. He matches their teenage energy incredibly well and evokes the spirit for adventure they wish to have. However, the turtles eventually come to subtly realize that they shouldn't do things just for acceptance, and instead should follow what they believe and genuinely want to do — just like Ferris does. Ferris doesn't act simply to be loved, it's just who he is and the turtles become the heroes they need to be by realizing this. So, "Ferris Bueller" ends up being a little more than just an awesome reference and plays a subtle role in the turtles' arc. 

A familiar-looking sponge

Those who have been to the Big Apple -– most notably Times Square -– know that there's always people dressed up as bootleg pop culture characters looking to make money through photo-ops. Well, "Mutant Mayhem" pays homage to this with a quick cameo from an animated icon that audiences will surely recognize. In a flashback where Splinter is talking about the first time he brought the turtles to the surface, there's a moment where everyone reacts to seeing Splinter (a mutated rat) and his four turtle sons (also mutants) walking around NYC.

We see the crowd's shocked and fearful reactions, eventually cutting to someone standing alongside a cosplayer dressed as Spongebob Squarepants. Given that "Spongebob" and "TMNT" are both owned by Paramount, it's not shocking to see everyone's favorite yellow sponge appear in a quick yet delightfully fun cameo. Not only does this moment pay homage to a known aspect of NYC culture, it also delivers a nice little cameo that audiences of all ages will love.

Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!

While the Michael Bay-produced movies are the more recent live-action "TMNT" films, longtime fans haven't forgotten the live-action movies from the '90s, and "Mutant Mayhem" has a great reference to an iconic moment from those films. When Mikey gets slammed into a car during an early fight sequence in a garage while the turtles are trying to get April's scooter back, there's a song that plays that's directly connected to the 1991 live-action film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II." That's right — Vanilla Ice's song "Ninja Rap" plays to give fans an instant dose of nostalgia. 

The second you hear the "Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!" lyrics, you're instantly transported back to that era of Turtle-mania, and despite those films not being loved by all, it's pretty great to see "Mutant Mayhem" pay homage to such a moment in pop culture. It's a short gag overall and no one starts dancing or anything, but the quick inclusion of "Ninja Rap" in "Mutant Mayhem" will surely put a smile on every fan's face. 

Pop culture callouts

If one thing is clear about the turtles after seeing "Mutant Mayhem," it's that they're huge pop culture nerds. Throughout the film they're seen dishing out different little winks and nods to popular cartoons, movies, anime, and even music that audiences will surely recognize. In the scene of the turtles testing their weapons on some watermelons, Donny mentions that Mikey's head looks like a mix of Stewie Griffin from "Family Guy" and Arnold from "Hey! Arnold" –- who both have wide, football-shaped heads like Mikey.

When the turtles arrive at April's school, Donny can't help but love seeing the drawing of a soldier from "Attack on Titan." He's such a fan apparently that Leo brings it up to help Donny realize that they can defeat Superfly –- in his giant form -– by attacking an exposed weakness on the back of his neck. Lastly, when the four of them are captured by Cynthia, Donny expresses that he regrets not being able to see BTS in concert before everything went wrong. The group tries to sing "Butter" to make him feel better -– which doesn't exactly work. The group even mentions liking music by Adele, Drake, and Beyoncé. Despite them not growing up in the human world, the turtles sure do show a wide range of pop culture knowledge that's honestly kind of impressive.

Old animation

The new animation style for the turtles in "Mutant Mayhem" is certainly unique and boasts a lot of visual inspiration from Sony's "Spider-Verse" films, but there's nothing like being reminded of a classic, right? Well, during a sequence where the turtles visualize what it could be like for them to be seen as heroes and attend high school alongside human teenagers, there's a moment that likely acts as a callback to the classic style of the 1987 cartoon. While the depiction of the turtles in this fantasy isn't an exact copy of that cartoon, there are a lot of aspects to it that make it feel like an homage to the era.

First and foremost, the fantasy showcases some hand-drawn imagery. Also, the colors used for the turtles in this fantasy are much brighter and more vibrant. Those big popping colors are a staple of the original cartoon, and this small fantasy definitely evokes the vibes of a classic look for the turtles that fans will love to see. 

Cardboard cameos

Since Splinter knows that his sons still yearn to explore and be part of the human world, he attempts to try and bring the human world to them by throwing a party. He brings tons of pizza and balloons, but what's a party without some special guests, right? Splinter has that covered too, with some cardboard standups that result in some hilariously unexpected cameos. Splinter brings together the holy trinity of celebrities named Chris in Hollywood with standups of Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, and Chris Pine –- who's sporting his Captain Kirk costume from the "Star Trek" films.

Splinter even tries to do a Chris Pine impression to impress the boys, and highlights his very defined eyebrows. While Splinter's special guests don't impress the turtles much, audiences will surely love this small batch of cameos. The fact that they aren't animated makes this moment so much funnier and "Mutant Mayhem" bringing together the three most notable Chris actors in Hollywood currently sets a new standard for cameos. It's a shame that Chris Tucker couldn't be brought along too though to make this a pseudo-"Rush Hour" reunion.

Ooze vs. Sludge

In a conversation between the turtles and Superfly about the mutagen that turned them all into mutants, Superfly refers to the material as "sludge," only for the turtles to quickly correct him by calling it "ooze." Throughout "TMNT" history, the chemical or concoction that mutates the turtles and other mutants has always been referred to as ooze. However, back when Michael Bay was talking about the turtles' origins in the live-action "TMNT" films he produced being more alien-based than ooze-based, he caused massive fan backlash — which this interaction is likely referencing. 

When Bay talked about the turtles in his films having alien origins, fans were deeply upset, since it went against the story in the comics and he was essentially ignoring the ooze altogether. With the turtles quickly correcting Superfly in his ooze terminology, fans get to feel vindicated, and it's almost like a kinder reenactment of fans clapping back at Bay on the internet. It's pretty great how "Mutant Mayhem" delivers a clever callback to a controversial moment in the franchise's history and the light-hearted feel of the moment will make it easier for fans to relive it without too much saltiness. 

Is that a meme?

During a climactic sequence in which the turtles try to take control of the van carrying the last component to Superfly's mutation machine, there's a particular song that plays that internet dwellers will certainly recognize. Before Mikey slams on the brakes with Donny's staff, Mondo (voiced by Paul Rudd) puts 4 Non Blonde's "What's Up" on the radio so that everyone can sing along -– which everyone does except for the turtles. While it initially starts as the original version, the song changes after Mikey slams on the brakes and forces Superfly's allies out of the car. Viewers with a good ear and some savvy meme knowledge will instantly recognize this version from the meme of He-Man and other characters from "Masters of the Universe" singing the song. 

It's so clear in the moment that you can almost visualize the meme right in the theater and yes, you do get to hear Skeletor hilariously deliver his "And he prays" line from the meme. While it's pretty random for the song to change like this, it does fit the turtles being modern teens better, and is just a hilarious nod to a meme version of another classic cartoon from the '80s.

Paying homage to another Ice

Although Superfly is voiced by an actor with a pretty iconic music career, there aren't any references to NWA or Ice Cube's music. However, we do get to hear Ice Cube pay respects to another iconic rapper with Ice in their name. After the big van chase comes to a close, Superfly bursts into the van and says the line "6 in the morning, police at my door." This is actually the opening line to Ice-T's 1987 banger "6 'N the Mornin'," letting Ice Cube give a small shoutout to his fellow "Ice" rapper. 

Admittedly, it's a little weird and random when Superfly says this since, it's not prompted and doesn't even connect much to Ice Cube himself, but for hip hop fans — especially fans of the '80s era — this will be a nice tip of the cap to an all-time great. 

Soon, Shredder

The film's post-credit scene not only gives viewers a fun glimpse into what the turtles' high school lives are like, it also sets up the appearance of the next big baddie to look out for — Shredder. It seems like Shredder and his Foot Clan soldiers are going to be working alongside Cynthia Utrom and the TCRI to stop the turtles and enact some mysterious plan. "TMNT" fans are well aware of Shredder's capabilities to cause major destruction and be a game-changing force for villainy. He's generally seen as the turtles' main antagonist, so the tease of his appearance in the next film should be a surprise to no one. 

Still, it'll be interesting to see if Shredder continues to work with Utrom and the TCRI or if this will be the jumping off point for him to become a standalone threat. Regardless, Shredder's introduction in the post-credit scene of "Mutant Mayhem" with his spiky visual design lets fans know that big things are on the horizon. 

Meta martial arts inspiration

After nearly losing his sons during a trip to the surface that goes terribly wrong, Splinter decides that he needs to prepare the turtles to face the worst, and sets out to turn their bodies into instruments of death. To that end, he does what any father with '80s hair would do — turn on some instructional videos on fighting and put on some martial arts movies. What's funny about him doing this is the sort of meta aspects that come from Splinter being voiced by Jackie Chan, one of the most renowned figures in the world of martial arts and film. 

Splinter focusing on martial arts and being voiced by Chan is a connection that's too good not to notice and it totally elevates the entire sequence. Eagle-eyed viewers might even spot Chan somewhere in the montage starring in one of his classic films. Chan voicing Splinter was already a fantastic get, but this meta martial arts sequence makes it even better. 

Eastman and Laird

What would a comic book movie be without references the comic's original creators? "Mutant Mayhem" certainly doesn't pass up on that opportunity as it finds fun ways to reference both Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the creators of "TMNT." When the turtles first talk with April on a rooftop, a hotel sign can be seen in the background reading "The Laird" — even though the "i" is blacked out. This is a very clever nod to Peter Laird and it's great to see his name be associated with a pivotal moment in the film for the turtles. 

Eastman's name is also used for a big moment in "Mutant Mayhem" as his name is heard when April is introducing the turtles to her high school, Eastman High. It's good to know that whenever the turtles go to their new school, they'll always be reminded of one of their creators.