TMNT: Turtles Forever may be one of the best movies about the multiverse to date. Released as a TV movie in 2009, Turtles Forever serves as the final installment of both the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show and the 2003 TV series of the same name. The film also continues the adventures of the Mirage Studios TMNT comic book, while featuring cameos from several other famous Turtle teams.
The uniting of these different versions is made possible through the multiverse, a technique that is now more popular than ever. The TMNT story began in 1983 when comic book creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series. They created their own Mirage Studios and began independently publishing these classic TMNT tales.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TMNT: TURTLES FOREVER
The franchise was inspired by many comic book icons. There was the toughness of Daredevil, the quirky anthropomorphic antics of Howard The Duck, and the youthful focus of the Teen Titans. Pulling these inspirational threads together created a franchise like no other, and TMNT’s popularity quickly skyrocketed. The TMNT universe expanded into a variety of mediums. The Turtles became action figures, stars of film and television, and much more.
Perhaps the most beloved iteration is the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV series. The goofy, lighthearted, pizza-loving nature of this show drew many fans. It ran for an impressive 10 seasons, and the tone greatly impacted almost every future take on the franchise.
The violence and street-level grit that defined that first era of Mirage Studios TMNT storytelling was in the rearview. The 1987 series suggested that the future of the Turtles was comical and colorful. But as new versions of the heroes in a half-shell began appearing on both TV and movie screens, one thing became clear.
Tonally speaking, a middle ground between these two extremes was the best place for the Turtles to exist. The 1990 live-action film, titled simply Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, pulled back the now-jovial nature of the franchise without abandoning it completely. These shell-heads still loved getting a cheesy slice, (figuratively and literally) but they were serious and even dark when the time called for it.
Unfortunately, the sequel, TMNT II: Secret Of The Ooze, and the threequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, reverted to the tonal stylings of the animated series. The intensity of the action sequences was toned down significantly. Hard-hitting emotional beats faded away as a more family-friendly appeal was sought out. These entries still have a lot of merit, but they never quite reach the heights of their predecessor.
In 2003, a new TV series titled (once again) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began airing. This TV show struck that same balance between serious and silly which made the 1990 movie so stellar. A co-production between Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment, this series remains the 2nd most successful TV show in franchise history.
After airing an impressive seven seasons of funny, action-packed, and heartfelt brotherhood, The conclusion aired in 2009, in the movie “Turtles Forever”.
In Turtles Forever, past and present collided. The Turtles of the 1987 series were transported to the universe which the 2003 Turtles call home. Our heroes in a half-shell weren’t alone, as their archenemy Shredder also made the jump between worlds.
The modern TMNT quickly grew tired of the classic Turtles’ antics. Even Michelangelo, the nuttiest ninja on the team eventually found his counterparts’ flippant, facetious nature to be too much.
Though they eventually aggravate Mikey, the ’87 heroes deliver some laugh-out-loud moments. Raphael radically breaks the fourth wall multiple times, to the confusion of everyone from the 2003 universe. The convenient writing of the classic TV series comes into play as well. For example, as ’87 Donatello claims that “science is more than just facts”, he builds an interdimensional transporter out of an oversized flashlight.
Seeking a team-up of his own, ’87 Shredder locates the 2000s Shredder. This foolish move nearly leads to the destruction of the Turtle-Verse. 2000s Shredder, AKA Utrom Shredder absorbs all of the knowledge about the multiverse through the Technodrome. He realizes that his world, the 1987 TMNT world, and every world in their multiverse are tied to one universe, a “Turtle Prime” of sorts.
Utrom Shredder believes that by destroying Turtle Prime, he will destroy every version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles throughout space-time. As he unveils his dastardly plan to all 8 Turtle brothers, viewers are treated to a nostalgic glimpse into the Turtle-Verse. TMNT teams such as the 2007 film incarnation and the 1990 live-action take are displayed, showcasing the impressive history of the franchise.
Both teams of Turtles and Utrom Shredder then arrive on Turtle Prime, home of the Mirage Studios comic book Turtles. Witnessing the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles make the jump from the comic book medium to film is truly special. Their world is a stormy black-and-white noir, complete with brooding narration from Leonardo.
They have a much sharper edge than any other TMNT squad, setting them as the hardcore end of the franchise spectrum. On the other end are the 1987 bunch, with the 2003 heroes sitting squarely in the middle. Their humor, character design, and fighting styles are all unique, but they ultimately have more in common than not.
Turtles Forever is a multiverse movie far ahead of its time. Over a decade before “The Multiverse Saga” and other multiverse movies like The Flash, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and the Spider-Verse franchise, the Turtles were showing what this trope was really capable of. By taking three distinct incarnations and folding them into one universe-hopping epic, an incredible story about the true meaning of “Turtle Power” was forged.
Turtles Forever set the gold standard for multiverse movies almost years before they became mainstream. That is no small feat, and this movie deserves recognition and a hearty “cowabunga,” from the fans.
What did you think of Turtles Forever? What is your favorite multiverse movie? Let us know your thoughts on our social media, and thanks for reading!