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The Surprising Connection Between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And Daredevil

In a world where comic book superheroes dominate the big screen and have gained a foothold in practically every form of media known to humankind, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have attained a level of cultural significance beyond that of your average caped crime-fighter. In the years since the franchise's creation in 1983 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the property has leapt from the penciled page to the world of kid's cartoons, toys, video games, movies and basically everything else that can be bought or sold.

At this point, the turtles' origins — both on the page and behind the scenes — are well-known. Where the latter is concerned, it was essentially a joke between Eastman and Laird during their starving artist days that willed "TMNT" into existence; a series of drawings that were created to make themselves laugh. "We were just p***ing our pants that night, to be honest. 'This is the dumbest thing ever.'" Eastman said, via The Week.

Their actual origin story, strange as it is, has an equivalent level of simplicity: a quartet of turtles are struck by a canister containing a mutagenic isotope and are subsequently dropped down a sewer grate where they receive training from the pet rat of an exiled ninja warrior. However, that origin gets kicked up several notches when one considers that Eastman and Laird wrote it as though it took place alongside that of the Man Without Fear, Daredevil.

Daredevil and the TMNT's 'shared' origin

In the 1964 debut issue of the "Daredevil" comic, Matt Murdock is set on the path toward becoming the titular Marvel hero when he saves a blind man from getting hit by an oncoming truck. Consequently, he comes into contact with a radioactive isotope that falls from the truck. Although his exposure to the substance results in his own blindness, it also heightens his remaining senses.

As noted by The Week, Eastman and Laird extrapolated that the canister containing the isotope also collided with a bystander who happened to be carrying his pet turtles in a fishbowl. Those turtles, of course, went on to become Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And while we probably can't call the mutual origin canon, it remains a pitch-perfect homage to one of Marvel's most iconic characters.

That's not the only link to "Daredevil" to be found in "TMNT," either. "Splinter's name was a tip of the hat to the 'Daredevil' supporting character Stick," recalled Laird, via The Week, referring to Murdock's ninja master during the Frank Miller run. Meanwhile, the turtles' nemeses, The Foot clan, were so named because Daredevil battled The Hand at the time.