The world needs heroes. Our kids need heroes. Thirty years ago, a new brand was born. It was born from the monetary seeds of a personal tax refund and a small loan. The idea was a parody of four of the most popular comics of the early 1980’s. Two friends got together, using what amounted to mustard seeds of money and began what is today a mega-brand with an international footprint.
The latest release in this blockbuster brand hits theaters in a couple of weeks. Although I’ve not been able to find much detail beyond the press release of the movie’s plot, the trailers that are saturating movie theaters and our television screens seem to scream the message that our turtle friends aren’t really teenagers anymore.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Sounds a bit like it could be a TMNT movie plot, don’t you think? Actually, it’s probably a pretty basic and resonant descriptor of most, if not all, hero-type movies … the villain that masquerades as the good guy, and who is eventually exposed as the ferocious wolf they’ve been all along.
I’d like to connect the caution of the verse in Matthew with the opening two sentences of this post. Our world, and our kids, do need heroes. And stories about those heroes can certainly come from sources other than the Hallmark Channel. But let’s also be watchful for heroes whose clothing would make them appear harmless or even laudable when they are anything but.
As I was scouring the web for details on the TNMT movie and brand, I came across the following. It was on the Wikipedia page for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in a section that provided historical details on the first animated series in the late 1980’s.
Original characters like Splinter, Shredder, and the Foot Soldiers stayed true to the comics in appearance and alignment only. Instead of being Hamato Yoshi’s mutated pet rat, Splinter was a mutated Hamato himself. The Foot Soldiers changed from human ninjas to an endless supply of robotic grunts, allowing large numbers of them to be destroyed without anyone dying (this was a very important decision in terms of the show’s child audience; excessive violence would have alienated parents of children, the show’s target demographic)
The concluding thought amid the parenthesis is of particular note, I think. The creators of the animated series were concerned that excessive human violence would alienate parents, and that they might choose to not allow their children to watch the show or buy the action figures, t-shirts and lunch boxes (okay, I’m dating myself). Pay close attention to the TNMT trailer the next time you visit the theater, or browse for one online. Does the violence in the new TMNT movie involve humans? Would you characterize it as “excessive?” If you’re a parent, do you take any special notice? Is there any need for the producers, directors, marketers and financiers of the movie to be concerned?
It’s not my purpose to be a cape crusader and discourage you from seeing this movie. Each person and parent should embrace the freedom and responsibility of making the right decision for themselves and their family. And I wish there was more content available to give this film a fair review. But in researching and listening to the Spirit in writing, the voice of caution from Matthew 7:15 was strong. Let’s all heed the words of scripture and “watch out” when it comes to heroes, whether they’re on the half shell or in real life.