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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem: Release Date, Trailers, Cast & More

We break down the characters, the voice cast, the plot, the release date, and more.

by | July 23, 2023 | Comments


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a pretty consistent part of the pop culture landscape since Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s scrappy self-published comic became a sensation in the mid-1980s, spawning an iconic animated series and a popular toy line. In the years since, that initial spark of creativity has inspired several distinct animated universes, two live-action film series, a bevy of toys, multiple video games, mountains of comics, and at least one rock music tour.

With all of that in mind, we’re getting a brand new version of the plucky amphibian heroes in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which looks to stoke the fires of 1980s nostalgia and introduce the Turtles to a new generation. If the previews released so far are anything to go by, the film appears to strike the right chords for older TMNT fans while also appealing to their children and – in some cases – grandchildren. Let’s head to the sewers and dredge up everything we know about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

The Mutagen Strikes Again

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Starting afresh – as opposed to continuing one of the existing film or TV continuities – the film sees the Turtles, after years of seclusion and training, making their way to the surface in the hopes of being embraced by humanity. Befriending April O’Neil (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), the team takes on a reclusive crime syndicate to keep the streets and sewers safe. And, maybe, they’ll find the acceptance they crave along the way.

Some fans may notice the absence of certain details – notably the Foot Clan and the ever-present Turtles nemesis Shredder – but the presence of characters like Bebop (Seth Rogen) and Rocksteady (John Cena) suggests those TMNT staples will appear in due course. See also: Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito), who often appears in Turtles stories as a press-ganged scientist aiding the Foot in the creation of their own mutants. Although, just as often, he willingly helps as it furthers his own aims and research in mutation.

And, as it happens, other mutants will quickly become a cause of concern for the Turtles. Will they be friends or foes? Considering the film is subtitled Mutant Mayhem, expect that question to drive some of the action.

The Sewers and the Streets

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Naturally enough, the Turtles inhabit New York. But judging from our first glimpses at the film, it is a stylized New York one might expect Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse‘s Miles Morales to visit. Indeed, the art direction was one of the big appeals for long-time fans when a teaser first arrived in March. Distinct from previous iterations of the Turtles, it also feels like a natural path for the comic book-inspired film.

Beyond that, the swift introduction of alien worlds (and aliens) in the original Eastman and Laird comics and the first animated series means there is always room for the Turtles to visit locations less grounded than Manhattan.

Of Turtles And Mutants

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Eschewing the typical pattern for the Turtles voice cast – or even long-time voice actors like Rob Paulsen, Townsend Coleman, or Greg Cipes – the film will feature four actual teenagers in the lead roles. The Walking Dead: World Beyond‘s Nicolas Cantu leads as Leonardo, the most dedicated of Master Splinter’s pupils to their training and goals. Micah Abbey lends his voice to generally tech-smart Donatello. Brady Noon of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers brings the attitude as a new Raphael, while Shamon Brown Jr. parties it up as Michelangelo.

Of course, we’re assuming the personalities of the Turtles will remain intact in Mutant Mayhem, but as seen in the teaser trailer, casting a group of young men leads to a noticeably different interpretation of the characters – vocally, at least. Additionally, the group recorded their dialogue together, offering a chance for more improvisation and a greater sense of camaraderie, which we clearly see in the scene of the Turtles goofing off in the teaser.

Beyond the four leads, the film is outfitted with a surprising number of familiar names – many of them playing surprising character pulls from Turtles history. Starting with the most recognizable characters, The Bear‘s Ayo Edebiri lends her voice to this version of April O’Neil. The character has had many permutations over the years, from TV anchor to budding reporter to straight-up ninja, so anything is possible with Edebiri and her take on the Turtles’ most constant friend. Jackie Chan takes on the role of Master Splinter, the boys’ sensei and adoptive father.

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

As mentioned above, the recognizable bad guys include Bebop and Rocksteady, voiced by Seth Rogen and John Cena, respectively, and Giancarlo Esposito as Baxter Stockman. Will the latter end up a fly by the end of the film? Time will tell.

Paul Rudd offers his talents as Mondo Gecko, the radical skateboarding lizard who has been part of TMNT lore since 1989. Rose Byrne plays Leatherhead, a mutant alligator who has been both friend and foe to the Turtles over the years. Post Malone voices Ray Fillet, a character who first appeared in the Archie Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series as “Man-Ray” but soon made his way to the action figure aisles under his subsequent moniker. Hannibal Buress becomes Genghis Frog, one of the original toy line’s attempts at beating imitators to the punch with a group known as the Punk Frogs. Natasia Demetriou takes on Wingnut, a humanoid bat who is sometimes an alien, a mutant, a would-be superhero, or a terrorist, depending on the era and series. Maya Rudolph is Cynthia Utrom – a character who might seem new for the film, but with a last name that fans will certainly recognize and that suggests something very specific about who she might truly be.

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

And finally, Ice Cube is Superfly, a new addition to the group of mutants to be featured in the film, who is revealed to be the primary villain in the latest trailer. Taking a page out of X-Men nemesis Magneto’s playbook, Superfly asserts that humans will never accept mutants like him and his cohorts, so he’s out to conquer mankind and put mutants in charge. Bebop, Rocksteady, and the others accordingly appear to be on his side.

While all the other mutants certainly pull at the nostalgia strings, the new direction in casting the Turtles voices may be the key thing that opens the characters up to a new generation of fans.

Scientists from Dimension X

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg at CinemaCon 2023

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The film is the directorial debut of Jeff Rowe, co-director of The Mitchells vs The Machines – which he also wrote – and a staff writer on Gravity Falls and Disenchantment. Joining him as co-director is Kyler Spears, who also worked on Mitchells as a storyboard artist; considering their past collaboration, it’s no surprise that Mutant Mayhem feels like the next step in the evolution of the visual style we saw in Mitchells. Rowe also wrote Mutant Mayhem in conjunction with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez, and Benji Samit.

According to Rogen, part of the intent is to lean into the “Teenage” aspect of the title more heavily than in past iterations, citing movies like Stand By Me as inspiration. Based on the teaser, it definitely appears his intent made it to the finished product.

Rogen and Goldberg serve as producers with Josh Fagen and Ramsay McBean as executive producers. Other crew include procution designer Yashar Kassai, character designer James A. Castillo, production supervisor Derek Manzella, and post-production supervisor Ryan Price.

When Does The Mayhem Begin?

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens on August 2, 2023. It’s unclear if the intent is to launch a new wave of TMNT movies, but if the film is a success, it’s likely that fans will have plenty more to be excited for in the future of the franchise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in theaters on August 2, 2023. Tickets are on sale now.

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