TMNT: Mutant Mayhem May Have Made a Grave Mistake With Its Villains


  • Many popular TMNT villains appeared in Mutant Mayhem, but it may have been too much.
  • Despite no major deaths, Mutant Mayhem effectively removes several villains from the board.
  • Clever writing could course-correct these plot beats in future TMNT sequels.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is the highest-rated TMNT film according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer and is nearly perfect in the eyes of many. It goes without saying that Nickelodeon Movies will be looking to expand on Mutant Mayhem‘s success with a new TMNT series. However, the film takes many popular villains from the past without doing justice to their long histories.

By the end of the film, this issue is taken a step further as the villains in question more-or-less switch sides entirely. After acting as little more than henchmen to Ice Cube’s Superfly, the villains switch alignment to aid the Turtles in saving New York City. This is an odd choice for a film meant to launch a new series, and while there are still plenty of directions to take the franchise, the inclusion of so many villains in supporting roles could prove detrimental to the future of this particular TMNT series.

Several Notable TMNT Villains Were Little More Than Side Characters

It was undeniably fun to see so many iconic TMNT villains featured in one incredibly animated film. Most notable among these evildoers are Baxter Stockman, Leatherhead, Wingnut, Bebop and Rocksteady. Stockman was given a fairly prominent role as the man who created the legendary ooze and, in turn, created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles along with their rogues gallery. However, it was underwhelming to see a character like Leatherhead, who was almost always portrayed as a true threat to the Turtles in the past, treated as a simple henchman. Conversely, it was just flat-out strange to see the quintessential henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady take even more of a secondary role before eventually becoming allies of the Turtles.

Several of the villains present in Mutant Mayhem had full episodes or even entire arcs devoted to their characters in past iterations of TMNT but were unfortunately reduced to no more than a few lines of dialogue in the film. It may not have diminished Mutant Mayhem in any major way, as the story and pace flowed well, but it did diminish the characters themselves, which may have a ripple effect moving forward. By treating these villains as Superfly’s henchmen for the majority of the film, it could make it a little more difficult to see them as anything more than a supporting cast if they were to return in future installments.

The Decision to Align the Villains With the Turtles Could Prove to Be a Mistake

Although the particular gang of villains featured in Mutant Mayhem survived through to the end of the film, which keeps their potential returns on the table, many of them ended up aligning with the Turtles in their attempt to take out the primary threat. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll remain “good” forever, their portrayal during Mutant Mayhem‘s climax was designed to be a feel-good moment, which resulted in most of the characters seemingly having a genuine change of heart. This works great for a character like Mondo Gecko, who has often been portrayed as an ally to the Turtles in his previous appearances, but it doesn’t work so well for the others in the group.

This decision effectively removes the possibility for these specific villains to get any major spotlight in future films. TMNT still has an extensive collection of characters to feature in upcoming movies, but it’s difficult to argue that a film featuring a fully realized Leatherhead terrorizing the sewers of New York City wouldn’t have been entertaining. Wingnut could have also played a larger role with her usual partner, Screwloose, in a new TMNT film if she hadn’t been so sympathetic to the Turtles’ plight in Mutant Mayhem. With what seemed to be a sincere desire to do good for the city of New York, it’s unlikely these villains will get the opportunity to show just how mean they can get now that Mutant Mayhem has wrapped.

There Are Still Ways to Course-Correct in Future TMNT Films

Despite the villains seemingly turning into heroes by the end of Mutant Mayhem, there are still clever writing choices that can result in them reverting to the characters most TMNT fans recognize. For example, Beebop and Rocksteady have long been henchmen of the iconic villain Shredder. While they seemed friendly enough with the turtles at the end of Mutant Mayhem, they would likely buckle under the pressure if Shredder came calling. Mutant Mayhem also featured super mutations when we saw Superfly transform into Superduperfly. With Baxter Stockman’s fate left unclear — despite being caught in an explosion — it’s possible the ooze could mutate some villains further, causing them to break bad once again. After all, fans have yet to see the memorable “fly” version of Baxter Stockman. Despite Superfly filling the fly quota in Mutant Mayhem, there is still time left to see Stockman reappear in his mutated form.

Mutant Mayhem also introduced Cynthia Ultrom — a character created specifically for the film. While the movie offered no explanation as to her origins, it’s very likely that she has ties to the classic TMNT alien race, the Ultroms. Ultroms are most well known for being the species from which the unforgettable Krang originates. It’s a safe bet to assume that Cynthia has ties to these alien invaders. With Cynthia being the character who suggests bringing the Shredder into the fold, it could hint at yet another Ultrom-Shredder partnership in upcoming sequels to Mutant Mayhem.

It is true that many of these villains had aligned with the Turtles in various story arcs in years gone by, so the decision to have them make such a drastic change in Mutant Mayhem isn’t completely out of left field. However, it still proves an odd choice to have so many of them swayed to the heroes’ side in the first film of a new series. Still, Mutant Mayhem was able to provide fans with an extremely fun story that delivered audiences arguably the best portrayal of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael to ever grace the big screen. For that alone, any sequel will be worth checking out.

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