Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

While I suppose technically X-Men’s take on mutation is more in keeping with the actual scientific definition of the word (although mutation isn’t always necessarily beneficial to an organism), for some reason TMNT’s cartoony definition of mutation seemed to just click with people.

In TMNT’s case, mutation seems like it’s more a matter of some organism being exposed to some substance that results in some strange rapid evolutionary development or some sort of hybrid animal/human organism. You sort of unquestioningly accepted this aspect of TMNT; it just seemed to make sense that that’s what a mutant was.

Not surprisingly the subsequent comic, cartoon and action figures were all chock full of other mutant specimens. Panda samurai, kangaroos outfitted for the Australian outback and gun-toting dinosaurs abounded. In fact, the lesser known but cult favorite TMNT Palladium RPG gave you a chance to play the Turtles, but it also gave you a chance to come up with your own mutants.

You could do sparrows, dogs, whatever. There was actually an extensive chart of animals that you could roll on when you started your character so you were welcome to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team up with the Iridescent Mutated Commando Badgers or whatever you and your friends cooked up.

Still, while mutation seemed to give rise to our four green heroes it remains more of a chaotic and unnatural phenomenon in the TMNT-verse than in the Marvel one.

Remember Baxter Stockman? Mouser inventor and sidekick turned human fly? Baxter’s half- human, half-house pest genetics is a good cautionary tale of how bizarre and, well, ridiculously disgusting mutation can be. Mutation is more about slime, weirdness, and big walking talking animals in TMNT than natural selection.

And yes, to point out the obvious, Baxter is a nice homage to the old-school and underrated (and really REALLY gross) horror flick The Fly. As far as I know, it probably originated this concept to begin with; just the idea that one thing’s DNA might get mixed up with another things?

Personally, I think Baxter might be another good candidate to appear in some form in Michael Bay’s film. I mean, certainly, some wall chewing Mousers might show up at some point.

Actually, the original Baxter was much more of a threat to the Turtles as a technological genius than as a mutant. Baxter never appeared as a fly until after the Turtles first foray onto television. In the comics, he actually ended up with a big, scary robotic body that was nothing for the Turtles to laugh at. The comic version of Baxter was much less bumbling and cowardly and a lot more anti-social and brilliant-in-a-dangerous way. Maybe this portrayal of the character might fill well on the big screen?