If you grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja (Heroes in the UK) Turtles chances are that this is the Leonardo you remember:
or maybe this one
or this one if you lived in Japan
or this one
Or these more recent ones
(sigh) We might as well also include the Bay Turtles
The point I'm trying to make is,in all these incarnations Leonardo is a noble and corageous leader,typical of your American cartoon. The kind of character whom never finish an opponent in combat or slay an unarmed man...
Yeah,the very first original 3000-issue Eastman-Laird TMNT that came out 30 years ago almost to the date was worlds apart different from what children saw in the 1987 CBS cartoon. In the progenitor comic the Turtles were killing machines bred and trained by Splinter for one purpose only: kill Shredder. There was never any paternal relationship with the turtles and at the end of the original arc Splinter dies of a heart attack after the Turtles kill Shredder and half of Mankind. Hard to believe that this grim and gory tale of revenge Frank Miller parody would end up becoming a franchince megapopular with children...
I can't help but wonder if TMNT had remained a gory cult comic instead of of becoming mainstream,would we have seen some gritty adaptation in the 90s? Maybe directed by Quentin Tarantino...
Also,let's not forget the robot sidekick that was thankfully shelved:
Really cool question. That would be awesome. I think about Heavy Metal 2000 which Kevin Eastman directed.
I don't believe Tarantino would be the one to do this movie in the mid 90s. Now maybe, but 20 years ago comic book movies didn't yet have the cachet they do today. The exception is Batman, which got pretty lame by the third one Batman Forever. So maybe Tim Burton would have done the turtles justice, but other than him I would expect lesser known directors of other comic book movies, like Alex Proyas (The Crow), Rachel Talalay (Tank Girl), or Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer and, more recently, Captain America).
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James Gunn would have made a great TMNT movie. He started with Troma Films and later made Slither and Super, both dark comedy mixed with action. Maybe Matthew Vaughn, who directed Kick Ass and X-Men First Class.