'Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Producer on What Makes New Series Unexpected Yet Familiar

The Ninja Turtles are back in a brand-new animated iteration. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles explores the mystical side of the iconic brothers in green, as they journey deep below the sewers and discover a magical new realm.

Producer Ant Ward (who also worked on the previous series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) was tasked with creating this new Turtles universe (or sewer system, if you will). He wanted Rise to stand on its own two feet, not simply revisit familiar territory in a way that would be a "disservice" to the fans and creators of the original. "We thought, 'what are we going to do that reinvents the wheel?'" Ward explained. "So almost every decision we made was with that in mind. We want it to be fun, unexpected and familiar."

'Rise of the TMNT' Producer Ant Ward
Ant Ward helps take the Ninja Turtles in a new direction Nickelodeon

This time around, the brothers have a different motivation to bring them above the streets. "They've definitely adopted the weapons and took up the mantle of being ninjas almost out of boredom, than heroism," said Ward. The turtles are also more clearly teens this time around.

Newsweek subscription offers >

"They're kids. They haven't gotten that sense of responsibility," Ward explained. "They kind of are hinting at it," as they learn how their best strengths can actually make a difference for the world.

'Rise of the TMNT' brothers unite
The TMNT ready for battle Nickelodeon

Rise of the TMNT makes a huge format change as well, dropping down to 11 minutes per episode from the traditional 22. Individually, the episodes work as standalones, with a classic "Monster of the Week" flavor. But as the full season unfolds, fans can expect to see the characters grow and change in ways that depart significantly from the original series. "You're going to walk away and you're going to realize that these are not the same brothers," says Ward. "It's really exciting to tell this story."

A new show and new heroes require some new enemies. Say farewell to Shredder, as Rise of the TMNT introduces a new baddie named Baron Draxum (voiced by John Cena). He's here to protect all the mutants, but what does that mean for humankind and the Turtles?

Newsweek subscription offers >

The Turtles will have their hands full with Baron and a variety of other mutants, including one known as Meat Sweats. (You read that right, he's a celebrity chef who transformed into a pig after a run-in with some Ooze.) "Meat Sweats is awesome because he has the ability to absorb other mutants' powers," Ward explained.

Fans can join the Turtles in their new, magical adventure throughout the depths of New York City on Nick or the channel's official site.

Which Turtle is your favorite? Let us know if you enjoy the new 2D animation style in the comments below.

'Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Producer on What Makes New Series Unexpected Yet Familiar | Culture