Five Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem'

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

BY Rachel HoPublished Aug 2, 2023

In April 1984, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's black-and-white comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit the newsstands, introducing the world to New York City's favourite heroes in a half-shell. Leonardo, the group's de facto leader, heads the charge as he announces his and his brothers, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael, presence to the Purple Dragons, emphatically proclaiming, "We're not wearing costumes."

In the nearly 40 years since, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) have gone from comic book superheroes to action figures to TV and movie stars and around the world, kids have marked their allegiance with their favourite Turtle (for the record, mine is Michelangelo, for obvious reasons). For generations of children, TMNT dominated recess, Halloween and playtime from Canada to England to Japan, igniting our imaginations as we went into battle with Splinter, April and Casey.

In recent years, the Turtles were given the live-action treatment — but in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (in theatres now), our boys are back in animated form. Directed by Jeff Rowe and co-written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit, Mutant Mayhem takes us back to the beginning with an all-star cast and killer soundtrack. 

But before we dive into the sewers for some pizza, here are five facts about the film that you might not know. Cowabunga, dude! 

The Cast Recorded Their Dialogue Together

Normally in animated films, the voice cast are brought to a sound booth separately to record their individual parts, with crafty editors stitching everything together in post-production. However, in 2019's The Lion King, Seth Rogen, who voiced Pumbaa, was able to actually record alongside Donald Glover and Billy Eichner, the film's Simba and Timon, respectively. 

Rogen's experience was so positive that he wanted to ensure that the voice actors in Mutant Mayhem were given the same opportunity, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "We really went out of our way and bent over backwards on Ninja Turtles to try to capture that improvisational energy that you get when a lot of people are in the same place at the same time."

And the proof is in the pudding. Not only is the chemistry between the four Turtles — Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), Micah Abbey (Donatello), Brady Noon (Raphael) and Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo) — free-flowing and natural, seasoned comedians like Jackie Chan, Hannibal Buress, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, and of course, Rogen himself, are clearly relishing in the shared space. 

Seth Rogen Wanted Mutant Mayhem to Emphasize the Teenage Experience

Given the name of the group, oddly, the past TMNT works have rarely explored the boys' teenage side. Rowe and Rogen — the latter of whom has a rich and successful resume creating teen comedies — wanted to position Mutant Mayhem as a high school movie, detailing the natural angst involved in growing up as outcasts in society with an over-protective parent.

In developing the coming-of-age nature of Mutant Mayhem, Rowe was influenced by the classic films of the genre as well as more modern examples like The Edge of Seventeen and PEN15. "We wanted it to be like Stand by Me and Lady Bird. But, you know, with Ninja Turtles," Rowe told Empire. Naturally, Rogen's Freaks and Geeks and Superbad, also stood in as sources of inspiration, particularly in the humour of Mutant Mayhem.

Mutant Mayhem's Has Canadian Roots (Aside from Seth Rogen)

As the first animated TMNT film since 2007, Rowe (who co-directed The Mitchells vs. The Machines) had his work cut out for him, especially considering audience standards for animation are currently at an all-time high. To create the gorgeous and vivid animation in Mutant Mayhem, Rowe and Rogen turned to the animation studios of Mikros and Cinesite.

Mikros Animation, the animation house behind the PAW Patrol films, utilized hundreds of animators and VFX artists in their Montreal and Paris offices to create the incredible comic book-style artwork, that includes sketches that resemble high school notebook doodling. Cinesite's Vancouver team, a visual effects powerhouse that has worked on Game of Thrones and World War Z, were also tapped to develop the dynamic imagery of Mutant Mayhem that not only brings to life TMNT's comic book roots, but the '90s aesthetic as well. 

Mutant Mayhem Contains a Lot of Rogen and Rowe's Favourite Songs

In addition to the electrifying score by Oscar winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Mutant Mayhem boasts an awesome soundtrack. "It's a lot of songs that me and Jeff Rowe, the director, ourselves listen to," Rogen told ET Canada

To reflect the New York City setting and '90s timeframe, Rogen and Rowe curated songs with a heavy '90s East Coast hip-hop and R&B influence, including Blackstreet's "No Diggity" and Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." The seemingly random assortment of songs on the soundtrack reflect the frenetic nature of a teenager-made mixtape, with the energy and spirit of youth found throughout. 

Splinter is the Dude

Just as important as the Turtles is their father, Splinter. Voiced by Jackie Chan in Mutant Mayhem, Rowe and Rogen really leaned into the character's dad vibe, as well as the DIY nature of putting together a look living in a sewer. 

"Jeff Bridges's the Dude character from The Big Lebowski was a big fashion inspiration," Mutant Mayhem's lead character designer Woodrow White explained to Den of Geek. "Splinter's build was [also] partially inspired by Danny DeVito, with his short stature and long arms."

Chan's contributions to the film even go beyond voicing Splinter. Studying Chan's fighting style in films like Police Story and Rumble in the Bronx, Rowe brought the splashy editing and comedic rhythm of those legendary fight sequences into Mutant Mayhem, resulting in some high-energy, action-packed moments. 

Latest Coverage