‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ Hints at This Cosmic Storyline

The Big Picture

  • The filmmakers of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem have a deep appreciation for the entire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythos.
  • The mid-credits scene hints at the appearance of the Turtles’ arch nemesis, the Shredder, and introduces the mysterious TCRI and its CEO, Cynthia Utrom, who may be connected to the alien species Krang.
  • Utilizing the Utroms as foes in a future Turtles film could set the franchise apart from other adaptations and add an exciting cosmic element to the story.

If there’s one thing to take away from Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, it’s that the filmmakers love nearly every aspect of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythos. There’s call outs to the Heroes in a Half-Shell’s creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. There’s a scene that perfectly replicates the cover to the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book. Even Vanilla Ice‘s “Ninja Rap” plays during the first big fight scene — and that was from one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies that received a rather lukewarm critical reception. Whether viewers are lifelong Turtles fans or newcomers to the franchise, there’s something to appeal to them. And that extends to the film’s mid-credits scene, which teases one of the Turtles’ greatest enemies.

The Reveal Of TCRI & Its True Purpose Hint At Krang

Baxter Stockman in 'Teenage Mutnat Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem'
Image via Paramount Pictures

Though the biggest draw of the mid-credits scene is the appearance of the Turtles’ arch nemesis the Shredder, the mysterious TCRI and its CEO Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph) loom large throughout the film. It turns out that TCRI was behind the mutagen that Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito) used in his experiments — and it’s that same mutagen that led to the Turtles becoming mutated, as well as their adoptive father Splinter (Jackie Chan), and Superfly (Ice Cube) and his gang of mutants. Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) and April O’Neil piece together that TCRI actually stands for “Techno Cosmo Research Institute.” While that hints at an extraterrestrial origin for the mutagen, the name “Utrom” should also ring a bell. as it’s the name of the alien species that the Turtles’ foe Krang is a part of.

In the original Mirage comics, the Utroms were a race of scientific explorers who crash-landed on Earth. When the Turtles ended up infiltrating the TCRI to help heal a wounded Splinter, they ended up being teleported across the galaxy and battling other alien races, including the warlike Triceratons. Eventually the Utroms helped heal Splinter and departed from Earth. Other versions of the Utrom, particularly Krang, have been depicted as a warlike race that spreads its influence over the galaxy. Using the Utroms as foes in a future Turtles film could continue to help the Mutant Mayhem franchise stand out from other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptations; given how off the wall the original premise is, throwing aliens into the mix shouldn’t be that much of a stretch!

Kraang & The Utroms Have Been A Major Part of Other TMNT Adaptations


As previously mentioned, Krang — and the rest of the Utrom race — have been a fixture in other Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles adaptations. Most notably, Krang served as one of the major villains in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, voiced by Pat Fraley. There, he joined forces with Shredder in order to subjugate the Earth. It goes without saying that the duo never succeeded; partly due to the Turtles foiling their plans, partly because Krang & Shredder bickered like an old married couple. Other versions of the Utroms would prove to be much more dangerous.

In fact, the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series would take a curveball by revealing that the Shredder wasn’t really Oroku Saki — he was a Utrom warlord named Ch’rell! Vicious and cunning, Ch’rell would be the one Turtles foe who nearly wiped out the Heroes in a Half Shell. In fact, he almost destroyed all reality during Turtles Forever. The 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featured the Utroms — here renamed as the Kraang — as a major foe, with one season culminating in them literally destroying the entire Earth. Even the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from IDW Publishing have showcased Krang as a force to be reckoned with, recasting him as a general within the Utrom army and the Turtles as one of his many experiments to create a new race of super-soldiers.

Perhaps the adaptation that made the most use of the Kraang is Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. The grand finale to the animated series of the same name, the Kraang were absolutely ruthless and managed to conquer the Earth in the future. This led to Casey Jones — he of the hockey mask and various sporting equipment — traveling back in time to train Leonardo into the leader he needed to become in order to stop them. But Leo and his fellow Turtles are nearly overwhelmed by the Kraang’s superior numbers, as well as their ability to possess others. If Jeff Rowe, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg do plan to utilize the Utroms down the road, they have plenty of competition.

RELATED: This Is the Most Accurate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adaptation

Utilizing Cosmic Elements Might Pay Homage To a Discarded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Script

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Michelangelo Leonardo Megan Fox Raphael
Image via Paramount

Ironically, the last time alien elements were involved in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film it wasn’t received all too well. The last live action version of the TMNT, produced by MIchael Bay, was released in 2014 — with Bay claiming that the Turtles would be from an alien race. Fans revolted, but that was only the beginning. An early version of the script from Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, titled “The Blue Door,” leaked online. It took a radically different turn from established elements in TMNT lore; instead of being a ninja, Shredder — here renamed “Colonel Schrader” — led a paramilitary version of the Foot Clan and was himself an alien who could grow blades out of his body. True to Bay’s words, the Turtles were alien warriors from another dimension, and so was Splinter. Eventually, the final version of the film would restore the Turtles’ standard origin and keep the Shredder as a ninja warlord.

The sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, would utilize elements from The Blue Door — including an alien adversary in the form of Krang (Brad Garrett) as well as Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) as a new ally to the Turtles. But it was rather overstuffed, relying on fan service rather than the character dynamics the Turtles are made of. Once again, it should prove to be a roadmap to the Mutant Mayhem filmmakers; the Utrom could be a major foe if done right.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Mayhem is playing in theaters.

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