Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is bringing the teen turtles back to the big screen for the first time since 2016’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Rather than live-action, the franchise is returning to its animated roots this time.

No matter the medium, though, it’s always the same Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that have been loved by generations. The four turtle brothers are living in the sewers of New York City, having been sheltered from the human world for years. But teens will be teens, and the turtles decide to travel to the world above to win over the citizens of New York and become heroes. With the help of their new friend April O’Neil, they set out to take down a crime syndicate. But when an army of mutants is unleashed on the city, the young heroes quickly discover they just might be in way too far over their heads.

it’s an old story, but new animation. Already, Mutant Mayhem is drawing comparisons to another breakout animated movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. With its release, Mutant Mayhem could do for the Ninja Turtles franchise what Into the Spider-Verse did for Spider-Man.

Mutant Mayhem Is Doing Something Different With Its Animation

Even back when the first few concept art shots were released, it was clear Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was doing something different. Similar to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the animation style is immediately definitive, unlike anything seen before in an animated feature film, let alone a TMNT movie. Disney, Dreamworks, and a few other studios have dominated the animation landscape in the past decade, and while they’ve made some incredible movies, it’s come at a price. In trying to establish a house – or in this case, studio – visual style, animated movies have all looked incredibly similar for far too long.

So when Into the Spider-Verse hit theaters in 2018, it revolutionized Hollywood’s approach to animated movies. Using a mix of animation styles and mimicking the look of comic book panels, Into the Spider-Verse offered weary audience eyeballs something completely new. With its visual style reminiscent of graffiti on the walls of a subway station and unfinished doodles in a high school notebook, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, like Spider-Man, is introducing a brand-new look.

Mutant Mayhem Could Resurrect The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Franchise

While there have been numerous TV series based on the turtles, TMNT‘s success on the big screen has been mixed, to say the least. The last movie was the aforementioned Out of the Shadows, which received an abysmal round of reviews from critics, and a reception that wasn’t much stronger from audiences. Surprisingly, it was a sequel, with its predecessor being equally poorly-received. It didn’t help that the turtles themselves were one step below nightmare fuel, and that was after the studio completely redesigned them after very early test screenings saw kids being freaked out by the design of the characters.

Before that, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hadn’t been seen on the big screen since the trilogy of the early ’90s. Today, they hold a fond nostalgia for people of a certain age, but that certainly doesn’t mean they were good. In fact, they were quite bad. As it was well before the modern CG technology of today, the turtles’ suits were practical, and the lumbering awkwardness of them made the action sequences comical.

While it’s not live-action like the previous two big-screen attempts, Mutant Mayhem has a huge chance to do what previous TMNT movies couldn’t. By reinventing the style of animation so that it’s geared toward older audiences while still being palatable for younger, it has the chance to hook an entirely new generation. If it has anything like the cultural impact of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it could very well save the floundering theatrical side of the franchise. We’ll see when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem hits theaters on August 4th.

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  • Editorial