Monday, June 27, 2022

Wild TMNT Theory Possibly Reveals The Secret Meaning Of The Turtles' Weapons

A wild fan theory gives new meaning to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' weapons, detailing a story of family and one father’s love for his sons.

The weapons of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are just as much part of their identities as their color-coordinated masks, but a wild theory reveals there may also be a secret meaning to them. Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the four reptilian brothers have been evolving for almost four decades. Now a long way from their humble comic origins, they've taken on new personalities, faced countless advisories, and become more complex than perhaps one would expect from a title like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

First published by Mirage Studios in 1985, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic told the story of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello, four ordinary reptiles mutated by biohazardous ooze. Adopted by a rat named Splinter, the brothers trained to be skilled martial artists to combat the Shredder and avenge the death of Splinter's late master. Originating as a superhero parody, TMNT outgrew its original pages to become an indelible part of pop culture. Having starred in everything from cartoons to movies and even live concerts, the mutant turtles have had several incarnations and retellings, but, through it all, they're still recognizable as NYC's iconic ninja protectors.

A parody of Daredevil's Stick, Splinter is usually portrayed as a wizened and demanding but nurturing father. Whether avenging his past or protecting the future, Splinter knows the Shredder must be stopped - and trained his adoptive sons in combat accordingly. With the turtles' weapons themselves as distinguishable as their multi-colored masks, one wild theory (Reddit via Twitter) suggests Splinter gave these differing weapons to his sons to reflect their personalities and teach them some of the greatest lessons they had to learn about themselves. Here's the secret meaning of the turtles' weapons explained.

Raphael's Sais

Sometimes described as "cool but rude" by the '80s cartoon adaptation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Raphael has a temperamental nature that often sees him trying to solve his problems with his green fists as much as his aggressive words. Raphael's short-tempered outbursts, his competition with his brother Leonardo, and general cynicism had often put him at odds with the other turtles. However, despite how volatile Raph can be, his weapons, twin sai, don't exactly match his personality.

While often mistaken as daggers, sai carry a far more passive history. Once used by law enforcement in Okinawa, they acted more as blunt weapons than blades used to subdue criminals rather than execute them. Additionally, while they can be used to restrain enemies, sai are most often used as defensive weapons as much as they are offensive ones, able to deflect blades and disarm opponents with their hand guards. According to the theory, Splinter taught Raphael to use twin sai to teach him patience, discipline, and to use less extreme methods when fighting crime - lessons the hot-headed reptile seemed to learn when he defended his friend and confidant Casey Jones, who was once even more violent and impatient than he was. Rather than kill the vigilante, in many versions, Raphael helps pass on Splinter's wisdom and techniques, steering Casey away from a violent path. In this way, Raphael's sai represent more than a weapon against Shredder; they're tools to help protect and redeem, as well as Splinter's way to teach patience to his adopted son considering how much training sai take to master their various techniques.

Michelangelo's Nunchaku

Known for his catchphrase of "cowabunga," Michelangelo is the most optimistic and easy-going of the group. Lighthearted and easily distracted, he has many hobbies ranging from art and cooking to video games, skateboarding, and collecting superhero comic books. Michelangelo in many ways remains true to his name and a Renaissance man at heart, but his immaturity and laidback attitude also reflect his shortcomings as a warrior. It is initially surprising, then, that the youngest and most scatterbrained turtle wields nunchaku.

Used to improve agility and stance, many consider the nunchaku as training weapons. Popularized by actor and famed martial artist Bruce Lee, nunchaku are widely used across multiple martial arts styles and have been adapted for different forms of combat over the years. According to the Twitter theory, because Mikey's weapons are known to injure their users easily, Splinter gave him his nunchaku to teach him to focus and take his training more seriously. Splinter acknowledged Mikey's shortcomings in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, where he notes that he is the son with the most "raw talent" but fears his immaturity and inability to focus will keep him from reaching his full potential. It makes sense, therefore, that the youngest ninja turtle, Michelangelo, would wield a student's weapon, a tool that challenges him to be more aware and gives him both the metaphorical and literal smack when his attention shifts away from the nunchaku.

Donatello's Bō

As the turtle who values intelligence, Donatello tends to gear his acumen toward science and technology. Across multiple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series, Donnie is shown to be the brains of the four brothers and responsible for many of their incredible contraptions, including gadgets, tools, and vehicles. However, Donatello's curiosity, reliance on technology, and love of science can sometimes dangerously complicate things. For a turtle who can predict, calculate, and understand some of the most advanced concepts in their universe, it's odd that a simple bō is the weapon he's shown wielding.

With no, bells, whistles, or complex mechanics behind them; the bō staff is explained simply as a stick weapon used in the art of self-defence. Often taught to be "an extension of one's limbs," it is very effective in disarming and defeating opponents to those who know how to wield them. Historical accounts claim that some of the staff were tools made into weapons by farmers to protect themselves when weapons became banned in 15th century Japan. The theory reflects this by suggesting Splinter gave Donatello abō staff to teach him that innovation doesn't always come from the machines you create but from learning to get creative with what you have. Additionally, it could be a method of breaking his reliance on his complex gadgets. Splinter lamented this reliance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation when Donatello modified his bō with technology, annoyedly noting: "There was a time when ninjas fought with wooden staffs." For Donatello, the staff is a lesson that intelligence isn't always about what you create but how you solve the problems you are faced with.

Leonardo's Katanas

Designated as the leader in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leonardo is usually the most level-headed and mature out of his brothers. Taking his role seriously, he's also shown at times to be the most moral and responsible. However, despite his reputation and portrayal, Leonardo was trained to use perhaps the most lethal weapons given to the four brothers by Splinter, the two katanas he carries on his shell.

While many of the turtles' other weapons supposedly had their historical origins as modified farming equipment, the katana is a bladed weapon purely associated with combat for centuries. A symbol of a samurai's status and spirituality, the katana are also considered by historians to be some of the finest blades ever crafted. Once believed to be among the most dangerous weapons in the world, there's no denying the katana's lethality. According to the theory, despite Raphael's desire for the role, being a future leader and mentor puts Leonardo in an unenviable position that may force him to make hard decisions that challenge his moral code. Splinter giving Leonardo katanas supposedly reflects the choices he must make to protect lives and in the hope that he'll only take them when necessary.

Splinter Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

When it comes to Splinter, the character has had different origins depending on the TMNT adaptation. Sometimes the pet rodent of ninja Hamato Yoshi who sought revenge for his owner's murder, or other times, reimagined as Yoshi mutated into a rat - Splinter is always the turtles' adoptive father and mentor, as well as Shredder's arch-nemesis. A demanding taskmaster and a loving father, there's more to Splinter's martial arts training than his war against the Shredder.

Splinter loves his sons but knows he won't always be there to care for them. In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, the aging mutant acknowledges: "Death comes for us all…" and in his case, it's an ominous warning that became fulfilled multiple times in the comics and Nickelodeon's 2012 animated series. Splinter knows that beyond the sewers there is a dangerous and unforgiving world full of aliens, mutants, supervillains, and of course, human beings who he feels will struggle to understand creatures like the turtles. In this way, the turtles' training and the lessons they learn aren't only to stop Shredder's armies; it's to carry on the fight after Splinter is gone, realize their true talents as ninjas, and above all else be there for each other, as well as the people they protect. As Splinter once said: "Help each other, draw upon one another, and always remember the power that binds you."

This TMNT weapon theory appears right on the nose and very grounded for a series that features extradimensional conquerors from Dimension X, mutants, and dragons, among other things. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a series that's come a long way as its stories, characters, and audiences' understanding of them evolved. For four pizza-loving ninja turtles mutated by an ooze, as much fun as there is in the concept, there are also stories about family, conflict, and what it takes to unlock inner potential which elevate this new TMNT theory to another level entirely.

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Original source: ScreenRant.

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