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TMNT: Mutant Mayhem - Why Shredder Was Axed From The Final Cut

Contains spoilers for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem"

Shredder is more than just the villain everyone thinks of when "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" comes up. He's one of the greatest comic book antagonists of all time. It's no wonder he appears in practically every "TMNT" adaptation at some point because he's a formidable foe with a killer design. As such, it may have surprised some viewers that Shredder wasn't the main baddie for "Mutant Mayhem." 

He does appear during the mid-credits sequence, teasing him up for an eventual sequel. But initially, Shredder was going to have a far more prominent role in the movie. Director Jeff Rowe spoke with Uproxx about making "Mutant Mayhem," and he revealed how they couldn't get Shredder to work for this kind of story, "He was in the movie for a long time, for a year and a half. And then it just did not work. And we were just banging our head against the wall and we had two big story problems. One, the Turtles were in high school on page 30, so they got exactly what they wanted way too early."

Instead, Superfly (Ice Cube) and his mutant siblings get in the turtles' way. It makes sense, seeing how they're all mutants, but while the turtles want to become heroes so that humanity will like them, Superfly hates humans and wants to take them out. It's a perfectly serviceable story that would likely only get muddled if Shredder was crammed in there. 

Shredder was too much too soon for Mutant Mayhem

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" has a pretty streamlined story with a 99-minute runtime. Adding Shredder in any capacity would've really made things difficult to follow, especially with Superfly and Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph) getting introduced as villains, with greater plans for both of them moving forward. Jeff Rowe admitted Shredder didn't fit into the best version of this story, so they had to leave him out: "Shredder was the villain and it was too big of a character too soon. And you didn't understand how a crime boss, which is how we were playing him, was connected to these teenagers."

Instead, the crew decided to focus more on the mutant aspect of the characters, which Superfly and his siblings worked better with. Ultimately, it's a story about teenagers wanting to fit in who feel shunned by society, so having the villain reflect that was the best route to take. As for whether the version of Shredder they tried to make work initially could appear in a sequel, Rowe isn't ruling anything out, "We have scenes that we could just take and recycle them for the new movie. But I think you always have to start from a place of story and character and what is the specific emotional journey that these characters are going on this time."

If anything, saving Shredder for something else gives fans and the team making the movie something to look forward to. With the success "Mutant Mayhem" has seen so far, it's a safe bet this version of Shredder will live up to the character's legacy.