Rise of the TMNT : Donatello's Design

The internet exploded shortly after the designs for the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was released in February.  As fans of all ages found themselves split down the middle upon the new look and feel for the Ninja Turtles, as there’s no question that this is a road they’ve never been on before.  I tried to write one story that would include my thoughts on the Facebook Live, designs, show overall and even the toys.  But it got long and hard to write, let alone read.  Which brings me here, where I’m going to give a short write up about each of the things revealed about “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.  Let’s talk about Donatello and his new design. 

I’ll like to start off saying my comments on these designs are my personal thoughts for each character.  Like, dislikes and fun facts.  These thoughts are not final judgement as I have not seen the series yet.  I have always found first reactions as the most hard and harsh for any new form of the Ninja Turtles.  As each of us fans are searching for what we would want to see, making it so not one creative team could ever please the entire fandom.  Let’s go into this with open minds to the ride that Ant Ward and Andy Suriano are bringing us on.

Donatello has a strange design to me, since the top of his head looks squared off.  I have not seen that done with a Ninja Turtle before.  He has some markings on his body.  Wears fingerless gloves, and pieces that covers his ankles.  Of course the biggest change that people may noticed is his backpack that covers his entire shell.  At first look it looks like a different type of warrior than a Ninja Turtle.  Though the more we look we can see he has his plastron, he’s the clothes is purple and he has a strange staff.  So it is, Donny.  Just not the Donatello we normally know.  This is all intended to be different, and that’s what we’re getting.

The headpiece and backpack on Donatello really gives a throwback to the Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies for me.  He’s also a lot skinnier than Raphael, which is true about the Michael Bay movies as well.  Though I don’t think his head was square in those movies.  I’d like to see his head without the head gear to see the real shape of the head as this is a totally different direction for one of the Turtles.  The Michael Bay movie never gave an answer to why Donatello had his gear in that movie, other than Donatello likes to bring his tech with him since that’s what he’s into.  Though thanks to the Facebook Live, we know why Donatello has a backpack in “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.

The big thing we learned about Donatello is that he’s a softshell Turtle in “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.  I use to have softshell snappers when I was a kid, their shells felt totally different and their necks could stretch out real long.  Their nose was different.  I really want to thank the designers for not giving Donatello a face of a softshell Turtle.  I do find it interesting that he creates these other shells to protect his softshell, and I hope we get to see him without one of his protective shells on to see the design of his new shell.

While this is not something I’m use too with Donatello, I am use to Donatello’s design changing a bit.  Even within the original live action movies.  Donatello’s face changed the most from each of those three movies.  I remember looking at him in Turtles two and wondering what happened to his face, while the other three still looked normal to me.  Then the Image comics changed him into a cyborg and the Nickelodeon 2012 series made him taller with a gap tooth.  It’s not the looks that makes him Donatello, it’s the personality.  Which we will not see till Rise of the TMNT comes out this fall. 

My hopes for Donatello, I hope that he’s close to Michelangelo as a brother.  Much like in the original three movies and the 2003 series.  I love the bond between the two of them, working together not just as brothers, but best friends.  The 2012 series lost this for me, as Don seemed more annoyed by Mikey.  That is one of the things I will be looking for in this series.  We already know he’s still into Tech, as we can see the gear on him and his bo staff.  I’m sure he makes the new rides and weapons that his brothers use.  I know some fans are hoping for his relationship with April again, as we see she’s riding with him in that group shot.  I hope if they do, they don’t over push it and it’s built up over time.

I know I’ve heard a lot of fans going “These are not my Turtles”, which is why I’ll like to remind everyone that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird always encourage artist to share their own take on the Turtles.  If anyone sits down and reads through volume 1 of Mirage TMNT they would see that each guest artist brought forth a new design for how the Turtles look.  The art styles of Mark Martin, Mark Bode, Jim Lawson, Rick Veitch, A.C. Farley, and Michael Zulli is some of the amazing skills that brought heart and joy to the world of TMNT.  As a kid, the art style hurt the series for me, as I did not like all the change and stuck a lot to the Archie comics because for the most part it stayed to one story and a main design look for the Turtles.  But as an adult I’ve enjoyed going back through and reading all of the Mirage comics and taking in all the different take on the Turtles.  Then we have Turtles Forever, reminding us that these are all just different universes of the characters we love.

I will not judge these Turtles till I see at least a season of the series.  And even if it’s not my favorite I am already seeing things that have me excited to go for the entire ride.  Every version of Ninja Turtles has its strong points and weak points for me.  If put in a debate I can either build them up or tear them down.  I have a feeling this series will be no different, there will be things to enjoy and things to look pass for another day.

This design for Donatello does not scream Donatello in one way or another to me.  It feels as if they flatten the top of his head and gave him a purple shell with some fancy dressings.  Do I like it or not?  I don’t know, this is one of those times where I need to see him in action to know if it feels right for me.  Only time will tell, till then I can’t wait to see anything Nickelodeon is willing to share with us about “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.  As I’m still curious about the T, which each of the Turtles have on them.

What do you think of Donatello’s new design?  Like?  Dislike?  Why do you think they picked Donatello to be a softshell turtle?   Everyone has the right to like or dislike what comes around, because that’s what makes our world awesome!  So peace to everyone and let’s see where this journey takes us!

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