Rise of the TMNT Creators Tease Their Netflix Movie
The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the newest TV iteration of the world’s favorite terrapin heroes, has been generating a lot of buzz, from its initial announcement all the way through its two season run on Nickelodeon. Although the show received an arguably satisfying conclusion in 2020, it was later announced that an original Netflix movie would continue where the series left off, bringing with it some shakeups in the Turtles team dynamic and the proper introduction of several franchise stalwarts into the To go up universe. With the movie slated for release on Netflix on August 5, i09 spoke to co-executive producers Ant Ward and Andy Suriano, who helmed the ships for both the TV show and film, for their thoughts.
It was deep in the production of To go up season two that a Nickelodeon executive asked the duo to come up with a script for a feature film To go up film. They got the phone call on a Saturday morning, brainstormed story ideas over the weekend, and pitched their favorites that Monday. The story that got the green light involved a mysterious alien arriving from the future, warning the Turtles that a nefarious alien species known as the Krang was about to invade the planet. Leonardo, having received the mantle of chief from his brother Raphaël, must guide the team against this intergalactic threat.
Interestingly, giving Leonardo his traditional role as team leader is something Suriano and Ward had been planning since the start of the series. “Leo and his journey are front and center,” Ward said. “He’s all over the arc, so to speak.”
“The film was definitely our opportunity to do this story justice,” Suriano added. “It affects everyone’s role. Raph was the series lead. Raph was the oldest. When it shifts to the younger brother suddenly in charge, it changes everyone’s relationship.
The change will certainly be interesting. Long duration turtles fans know that a staple of the franchise is Raph butting heads with Leo over the latter’s leadership style, which Ward says will be a plot point in the film: “We’re going to see them get together.” head banging in their unique way that does not To go up can bring.”
“We exploited the powder keg that was still there,” Suriano said with a laugh.
The film also gives Suriano, Ward, and crew the opportunity to introduce iconic characters who had not yet been seen in To go up-again, allowing them to build the universe as they had always intended. This includes Casey Jones, the Turtles’ longtime ally (and sports equipment enthusiast), who arrives from the future to warn them of Krang’s impending threat. This will actually be the second Casey featured in To go up continuity, the first being Cassandra “Casey” Jones, intensely energetic Foot Clan rookie turned ally.
“Cassandra was always on the show and was always meant to be ‘Casey,'” Ward said. “We had to accelerate this reveal from where it was originally supposed to be, so while we were doing that we were also doing this new Casey. We love Casey in the movie. Haley Joel Osment absolutely crushes it. I think there’s a sense of responsibility that maybe wasn’t front and center in previous versions. There’s definitely a bit of “Goongala!” in there. You shouldn’t make fun of him.
The other iconic characters getting their fill To go up debut are the Krang, the pink squid-like aliens who saw vastly different depictions of a Tortoise iteration to the next. This time around, Suriano and Ward pull out all the stops with these classic villains — no silly gurgling noises, no comedic actors, and no need for human exosuits to put on a decent fight. These Krang are bloodthirsty.
“Our intention was to create fearsome opponents for the Turtles,” Suriano said, “something that would be terrifying. That meant adjusting their proportions and designs slightly so they could take on the Turtles without the help of their robots. There’s nothing funny about them. Until now, the Shredder was their biggest obstacle. There are people who established the shredder.
“We went so big in the season [two] finale,” added Ward, “that we really had to make sure the Krang here were such a formidable threat that there was no doubt the Turtles were ready for the fight of their lives.
Going bigger than ever is really the name of the game for this movie, taking advantage of the medium to push the animation and storytelling to levels unachievable in the TV series format.
“Everything is a little extra,” Suriano said. “The colors, the shading, even just being able to move the characters around in a way that maybe we were [previously] budget limited. Some of the storylines and character beats that we had set up on the show, we had a chance to pay for, some of the things that we didn’t really get a chance to do on the show.
“When we went to do the show, we were focusing on an 11-minute format,” Ward said. “I think with the very nature of an episodic program, you definitely have to make creative concessions. Because of the kinetic nature of this type of storytelling, it was very nice with the film to let the characters breathe a bit , to let these epic events unfold in a more traditional way.
At its heart, beneath the epic fight scenes and wacky humor, lies the heart of what makes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles special: the theme of family ties. Suriano and Ward aim to portray this more fully with the To go up film. “As long as we do that, with any story, with any franchise, with any character, I think it will resonate with viewers,” Suriano said. “It’s not just a good turtles film. I think it’s a great family movie.
It is not surprising that the theme of family ties resonates so strongly in the To go up film. Virtually all of the film was made during the pandemic, a Krang-like obstacle that the show’s staff had to band together to overcome. As Ward said, “The crew really rose to the occasion.”
“I think I’m most proud of the family we’ve built,” Ward continued. “We pretty much had oil and water as a team, and by the end of it, we were such a tight-knit family that there was explicit trust at every level of the show, from coordinators to directors. supervisors to storyboard reviewers. right down to the writers, really putting people out of their comfort zone, but in an encouraging way just trying to push the medium and push themselves as artists.
“Everyone was empowered,” Suriano added. “Ant and I are big believers in nurturing and empowering every member of our production team. Like the show itself and the characters within it, it’s about creating a family, and it’s about creating a family. is what Ant and I did with our team.
It’s been almost two years – and a global pandemic – since To go up aired its last episode. One might suspect that interest in the series has waned over this time, but interestingly the opposite is true, especially with the series recently available on Netflix. “It’s nice, a few years later, to see that commitment, to see the commitment build with To go up,” said Ward. “The audience seems to be growing. More and more people are trying it and having fun with it.
“Everyone has their favorite version of turtles,” Suriano said, “and a lot of people are against change. They had something preconceived in their minds, maybe what it was and why it wouldn’t interest them. I saw a lot of people reach out and say, “I didn’t give it a chance, but then I watched it.” I think a lot of the themes in there resonated with the audience.
With Netflix’s growing audience and hype building up for the film, now may be the perfect time to jump aboard the Turtle train, regardless of your relationship to the franchise.
“This is going to be such a big jump on point for everything turtles fan,” Suriano said. “To exist To go up fans, this will be a very satisfying payoff for many of the threads we’ve put on the show. Then it will just be a fun movie. I think it’s great for people who haven’t even seen one turtles media. It’s going to be kinetic, action-packed, but also really funny, [with] a lot of heart. It’s a big trip. It was a trip to do it, and it’s going to be a sight to watch. I hope people will take a look.
And if the movie does well enough, Suriano and Ward would like the opportunity to continue building the To go up world with one of their other movie ideas. They say they might have ideas for the Rat King…
The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie premieres August 5 on Netflix.
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