• Entertainment

The First Live-Action 'TMNT' Had Some Dark Themes And A Strange Backstory

The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, released in 1990, held a special place in the hearts of so many kids. The film brought the beloved cartoon characters to the big screen for the first time, expanding the franchise beyond the comic book series and animated TV show.

The TMNT franchise continues to attract new fans with additional animated series, toy lines, video games, and movies adding to the legacy. The famous franchise has permeated all aspects of pop culture; there are memes, dirty jokes, and unique fan art. Many interesting TMNT facts exist, but the first movie is still probably the most bonkers thing in the Turtles universe.

Some people might assume it's an innocent children's film, but many aspects of the script, plot, and overall tone make the film much darker than it initially appears.

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  • Dark Themes Permeate The Film

    Some people felt the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie seemed much grimmer than the animated series. And indeed, the film drew inspiration from the comic book series, which was incredibly gritty. While the TV show erred on the side of light, kid-friendly content, the comic focused on dark themes, real danger, and weapon-wielding.

    Some elements from the cartoon did make it into the 1990 film, though. The Turtles wear different-colored face masks, for example, and of course, they love pizza.

  • Pizza Hut And Domino's Fought Over The Merchandising Rights

    Two corporate pizza giants - Pizza Hut and Domino's - both wanted to cash in on the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, especially because the main characters love pizza. Eventually, the organizations decided to split the endorsement deal down the middle.

    The Turtles eat Domino's pizzas in the movie, but Pizza Hut secured a $20 million marketing campaign afterward.

  • Foot Clan Leader Tatsu Almost Slays Someone

    In the film's original script and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, the Foot Clan leader, Tatsu, fatally harms one of his child soldiers. The producers decided to cut this scene to avoid making the movie that much darker.

  • Actor Judith Hoag Disagreed With The Movie's Tone

    Judith Hoag played April O'Neil in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles filmDespite not initially knowing anything about TMNT, Hoag signed on for the project. The script purportedly seemed like something from a horror movie, though. Hoag expressed concerns about the lengthy shooting schedule and the harshness in the film. She believes her opinions kept her from returning to the TMNT franchise.

    She told Variety, "Everybody was beating everybody up... I thought the movie suffered because of that. It was something I spoke to the producers about; I think they thought I was too demanding and moved on."