Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Seems Like A True Seth Rogen Movie, But There Are 4 Ways It’s Giving Into The Spider-Verse Vibes

We’ve known about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem for some time now, though not until recently have we started to get concrete details on the upcoming flick. After much anticipation, the first trailer for the Seth Rogen-produced feature was released, and it teases what appears to be a downright delightful movie. It exudes the unique tone that typically accompanies the TMNT franchise, but what’s really impressive is that Rogen’s creative touch feels present throughout. In addition though, one could also liken it to another animated flick – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And there are a few key ways that it’s giving off vibes that are similar to the Marvel movie’s.

It would be an understatement to say that Into the Spider-Verse was a success in 2018, as it received critical acclaim and went on to become the 2019 Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature. One could argue that in the years since its release, studios have been trying to step up their game when it comes to their animated fare. Based on the first bit of footage, it’s really hard not to get that sense from Mutant Mayhem, which is directed by The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ Jeff Rowe. So at the risk of rambling any further, let’s discuss how the teen ninja’s latest cinematic outing seems to mirror the beloved Spidey flick: 

Donatello and Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Sports An Animation Style That’s Nearly Identical To Into the Spider-Verse’s 

There are so many things to love about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but an element that jumps out at you almost immediately is the animation. The film utilizes CGI but also incorporates 2D elements that give it a somewhat traditional look. The result is a motion picture that looks like a comic book come to life – complete with speech bubbles and page turns. To put it simply, the superhero movie is a sight to behold and stands tall as one of the most beautifully animated films ever made. The approach made sense, considering Spidey’s roots and, thankfully, Seth Rogen and co. did the same for their movie. 

It's easy to forget that the TMNT were comic book heroes before they made the jump to the small screen in the ‘80s so it’s only fitting that they get a comic-esque flick like this. It’s simply amazing just how much Paramount’s upcoming movie resembles Sony’s acclaimed superhero movie. The mixture of CGI and 2D here is gorgeous, and the backdrops and character designs are perfect. The art style also drives home the point that Mutant Mayhem takes place in a very lived-in world – something that Spider-Verse also showed off. All in all, I’m loving this style, and I’m glad the Spider-Man film has seemingly prompted other studios to try alternative techniques.

The turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Mutant Mayhem Is A Coming-Of-Age Story With Young Lovable Protagonists Similar To Miles Morales

Into the Spider-Verse is many things but, at its core, it’s a true-blue, coming-of-age story centered on the impressionable Miles Morales. Sure, there’s multiversal madness and a cavalcade of spider-themed superheroes, but Miles’ journey as a young crimefighter is at the center of the proceedings. It’s ultimately quite satisfying to see him go from being an unsure teen starting at a new school to a devoted superhero who’s willing to take a “leap of faith” for what he believes in. And based on what we know about this upcoming TMNT movie, we could be in for a similar tale. 

Mutant Mayhem will see the sheltered Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael (who seem even younger this time around) seeking to earn the approval of their fellow New Yorkers. However, they’ll ultimately get in over their heads when they come to blows with a crime syndicate and have to fight off an army of mutants. The recent trailer does a great job of conveying that the four reptilian siblings – like Miles – are fish out of water and still learning who they are as heroes and as people. It’s also more than apparent that teenage hijinks are going to ensue as they attempt to protect their city. (I’m still chuckling over the sight of them recording themselves performing dangerous acts with their weapons.) So let’s hope this movie manages to convey the growing pains and teen angst as well as the Spidey movie did. 

April O'Neil and the Turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Like Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Utilizes A Wide Roster Of Characters

Miles Morales may have been at the center of the 2018 superhero hit, but he was also surrounded by a wide range of supporting characters that represent different parts of the Spider-Man mythos. There were a ton of heroes, from Gwen Stacy (Spider-Gwen) and Peter B. Parker to Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham. The film had its fair share of villains as well, as it utilized versions of Wilson Fisk (Kingpin), the Prowler, Dr. Octopus and more. (And the upcoming sequel seems to be doubling down on the notion of having such a big ensemble cast.) If you think there are a lot of players on the board here, then you won’t be prepared for what TMNT has to offer. 

Seth Rogen just recently confirmed the totally tubular cast of Mutant Mayhem, and it’s packed. As expected, the turtles will be joined by the wise Master Splinter (Jackie Chan) and clever journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri). But the producers are also diving deep into Ninja Turtles lore to pull out the likes of Bebop (Rogen) and Rocksteady (John Cena) and other characters such as Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), Genghis Frog (Hannibal Buress) and Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd). How these villains and members of the Mighty Mutanimals play into this story is still anyone’s guess, but I’m excited to find out and hope they’re utilized effectively.

Michelangelo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Seems To Have A Pop Culture-Infused Vibe Reminiscent Of Into The Spider-Verse

Just as Seth Rogen has seemingly had a major influence on Mutant Mayhem as a producer, the same was true for Phil Lord and Chris Miller on Into the Spider-Verse. In addition to helping to craft a compelling narrative, Lord (who conceived the story and co-wrote the script) and Miller also brought their irreverent and love of pop culture to it. Numerous pieces of Spider-Man history, including that not-as-good-as-advertised popsicle. Even the fact that Miles sported Air Jordan 1s conveyed just how the film drew from the cultural lexicon. 

Tony Hawks Influence on TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Logo


Seth Rogen Explains His Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie's Totally Tubular Connection To Tony Hawk

This may not have been spotlighted too much in the TMNT trailer, but it feels almost certain that the movie will lean on various cultural touchstones to convey character and story.. Within the footage, the main instance of this is when a thug refers to the titular turtles as “baby Shreks.” It’s a great line and one that tracks for the Superbad writer, as he loves throwing pop culture references into his movies. I don’t expect this film to get quite as meta with its nods as Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s work does but, then again, it could surprise us.

There are sure to be plenty of people who aren’t sure what to make of the Ninja Turtles’ latest big-screen adventure, but I firmly believe Into the Spider-Verse served as a template for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see what Seth Rogen does with this beloved IP, but I’m glad that he and his cohorts seem to be taking cues from Miles Morales’ first cinematic outing.

We’ll see what’s in store when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in theaters on August 4 as part of the schedule of 2023 new movie releases. And before you check it out, you can catch Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which arrives on June 2.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.