Cowabunga – The History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The swashbuckling, bad-ass Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are set to hit Indian screens on August 29, 2014. Aiming to familiarise a whole new generation of movie-goers to the anthropomorphic heroes, director Jonathan Liebesman has used the MoCap technology to bring the Turtles to life. Furthermore, the live-action adaptation has been produced by Michael Bay, who has a penchant for delivering something that is larger than life. But the Turtles have been a part of pop culture for almost three decades now in the form of comics, action figures, animated series, movies and some more movies. So let’s take a look at the illustrious history of the oh-so-awesome Ninja Turtles.

It all began in 1984 when long-time friends, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird decided to parody some of the existing comic book heroes and cartoons such as X-Men, Daredevil and Ronin among others. Scribbled in black and white, the four reptilian martial arts experts were each given names inspired after renowned Renaissance artists Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Trained by Master Splinter, the brothers found home in the sewers of New York City and surfaced from time to time to fight crime.

The co-creators together self-published a limited number of comic books under the title of Mirage Comics. This first edition became an instant hit, and comic book fans fell in love with the idea of Turtles for heroes. This is what the first edition of the comic book looked like:

With Shredder and the Foot Clan as the main antagonists, the comics showcased the Turtles as gritty and brutal warriors, but were later mellowed down to cater to a wider audience. The comics ran for almost a decade and were reiterated under new titles over the years, each adding something new and fascinating to the story of the Turtles. Primarily drawn in black and white, our heroes were now given their own distinct personalities, with different coloured masks for easy identification.

In 1987, the toy company Playmates decided to cash in on the fame of the Turtles in the form of action figures. A cartoon series was also launched before the toys could hit the shelves to make sure that the Turtles gain better recognition. This mini-series brought the story to a wider audience and featured hit phrases like "Turtle Power" and "Heroes in a Half-Shell".

The first live-action feature film on the Ninja Turtles was released in 1990, which became a cult success, and spawned three sequels. The characters of the Turtles and Splinter were played by actors in animatronic suits, who had limited expressions and represented everything ’90s. The next two movies in the franchise also found success, and the final addition to the series came in the form of a CGI-animated film.

Later, in 1997, a live-action series named Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was introduced, which also added Venus, a female Turtle, to the Ninja Turtles team. This show, however, did not replicate the success of the films and was cancelled after one season. The story of the Turtles was only recreated with different animated series that portrayed the Turtles in new avatars.

Over time, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have amassed fame mainly for the astounding concept of turtles (who aren’t the fastest creatures in nature) fighting baddies using martial arts. The latest film takes a giant leap in bringing the adorable heroes back using motion technology. The film also stars Megan Fox as April O’Neil and Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick. Bulkier and fiercer, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are sure to enthrall all of us. So are you excited?

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