Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem reboots the “Heroes in a Halfshell” in spectacular fashion, and it’s loaded with plenty of Easter eggs and references to the superhero team’s past and beyond. The reboot of the beloved characters is a triumph in every sense of the word, with critics seemingly coming to the consensus that Mutant Mayhem is the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie ever made. Collider’s own Ross Bonaime also had equal praise in his review of the film, which you can read in full here.
Between the gorgeous animation, well-written characters, and sidesplitting humor are a treasure trove of Easter eggs for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles friends and references to other movies and shows. To see which ones we were able to spot, read below to find out every Easter egg and reference we found in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens with the TCRI organization tracking down geneticist Baxter Stockman, voiced by The Mandalorian star Giancarlo Esposito. Fans will instantly recognize the name Baxter Stockman, who is almost always depicted as a mad scientist who creates all manner of mutants and robots that the Turtles fight. However, Mutant Mayhem‘s version of Stockman is a bit different. Instead of being portrayed as a villainous madman, he claims to create Superfly (Ice Cube) and his siblings because he is lonely and wants a family of his own. He doesn’t get that chance as Cynthia Utrom’s goons accidentally kill Stockman and destroy his lab. That said, the infamous scientist is known to cheat death through science in past adaptations, so who knows if we’ll see him again in a sequel?
Cynthia Utrom and TCRI
One of the film’s most mysterious characters is Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph) – the villainous head of TCRI. As April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) reveals at the end of the film, TCRI stands for Techno Cosmic Research Institute, which is an organization that was first seen in motion in the 2003 series. We don’t learn much about Cynthia in Mutant Mayhem, but her surname of Utrom just so happens to be the name of the franchise’s evil alien species, the most infamous member of the extra-terrestrials being Krang. Cynthia is almost certainly a Utrom herself or is at the very least working for them, with TCRI merely being a front for their terrestrial research.
The Turtles’ Comic-Accurate Intro
When the Turtles make their way on screen, their designed to look a bit more intense than usual. The intro ensemble shot shows the turtles with no pupils and permanent frowns, before comically showing them normally as their intense mission is just getting groceries. “Comic” is the opportune word here, as this intro seems to be a direct homage to the much darker Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics that started the franchise, which depicts the Turtles as much more serious anti-heroes.
Mutant Mayhem is packed with references to other pop culture icons, and the first is when Mikey (Shamon Brown Jr.) mocking Leo’s (Nicolas Cantu) serious voice by calling him Batman. It’s a funny jab, but also a significant one as the Turtles have actually faced Batman in another timeline. In the surprisingly great Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated film, the Caped Crusader teams up with the Turtles to bring down some of their classic foes.
‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’
We get another direct pop culture reference when the Turtles decide to catch a movie in the park, though they take care to hide from the humans. The movie they’re watching is none other than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and the mutant outcasts are fascinated by Matthew Broderick‘s lovable and popular teenage hero. The allusion to the John Hughes classic proves to be a thematic mirror for Mutant Mayhem, as the Turtles hope that they can be accepted and loved like Ferris one day.
Being a production of Nickelodeon Studios, it’s hardly surprising that one or two references to other Nickelodeon properties snuck into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. When Splinter (Jackie Chan) tries to take the Turtles to Times Square, we see the iconic tourist destination retained its propensity for cheaply made mascots. The one we see is possibly the most popular of all Nickelodeon characters, SpongeBob Squarepants.
Massively popular YouTube Star and philanthropist Jimmy Donaldson, better known by his username MrBeast, makes a surprise cameo appearance in Mutant Mayhem. Shortly after audiences spot the SpongeBob costume, a bystander comes up to Splinter and thinks he’s wearing a bad Mickey Mouse costume. Donaldson voices that bystander and the character is even wearing a sweater that has the internet star’s logo on it.
Stewie and ‘Hey Arnold’
When the Turtles are blowing off steam by destroying some watermelons, Donnie (Micah Abbey) makes another reference to a Nickelodeon show, as well as a more adult cartoon. When Mikey points out that the watermelon he’s holding looks just like his head, Donnie points out that his brother looks like a cross between Stewie from Family Guy and Arnold from Hey Arnold!
Geico Geckos and Shreks
We get another dual reference when the Turtles go to get April’s bike back from the thieves. The leaders of the gang think that the group of four looks like a strange cross between the Geico Gecko and Shrek. None of that really matters as the Turtles take down the goons.
Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap
As the Turtles knock around the gang of thieves, the radio of one of the cars begins to play a familiar tune. That song would be the “Ninja Rap” by Vanilla Ice, which was the infectiously catchy hit song that was created for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze in 1991. It’s just one of many classic nineties rap songs in the film, but easily one of the most recognizable for fans.
Mark Ruffalo and Hulk in ‘Avengers: Endgame’
Though they may be superheroes themselves, the Turtles also seem to be big fans of superhero cinema. Mikey in particular seems to be a big fan of Avengers: Endgame and relates with how Mark Ruffalo‘s Hulk is treated in the film. Seeing the big green outcast finally become accepted in society proves to be a poignant message for the teens. Plus, Mikey also loves Ruffalo’s improv chops.
Attack on Titan
Donnie seems to be a big fan of anime, and one of his favorites turns out to be Attack on Titan. The acclaimed anime series is certainly much more violent for the target demographic of Mutant Mayhem, but Donnie uses his knowledge of the show to defeat Superfly when he turns into a giant monster at the end of the film.
Gru and Megamind
When April explains what she knows about Superfly to the Turtles, she compares the villain to Gru and Megamind, alluding to Despicable Me and Megamind respectively. An interesting comparison given that both of those anti-heroes end up redeemed by the end of their films. Perhaps this was a subtle way to tease that Superfly and the other mutants have more sympathetic motivations than some may have thought.
Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, and Chris Evans
In a vain attempt to get his kids to confide in him, Splinter throws a surprise party and offers a unique solution for the kids. He gets cardboard cut-outs of Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, and Chris Evans, saying that they can function as their imaginary human friends. Pratt and Evans’ cut-outs are just wearing suits, but Pine’s is wearing his Captain Kirk gear from his Star Trek tenure, likely because Star Trek is also a Paramount production.
Superfly and His Crew
Superfly’s dastardly crew is filled with faces both new and old. Superfly himself is actually an original character, though his familial connection to Baxter Stockman seems to be a nod to the various times when Stockman himself became a fly mutant in various past iterations. Easily the two most recognizable members of the crew are Bebop (Seth Rogen) and Rocksteady (John Cena), who are typically portrayed as a henchmen duo in the prior cartoons. Also present as supporting mutants are Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), Wingnut (Natasia Demetriou, whose role as a bat feels like a nod to her part in What We Do in the Shadows), Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd), Ray Fillet (Post Malone), Genghis Frog (Hannibal Buress), and Scumbug.
“Six in the Morning Police at My Door”
During the epic car chase where the Turtles try to escape with Sueperfly’s parts, the main villain catches up to them to stop them. Before defeating them, Superfly utters the lyrics “Six in the morning police at my door”, which is a nod to the song “6 ‘n the Mornin'” by fellow frozen water-themed rapper, Ice-T.
Splinter isn’t a fan of rat puns, and the last pop culture reference that we spotted came when the Turtles’ father comes to rescue them from Cynthia Utrom. One of the goons calls Splinter “Ratatouille”, alluding to the popular Pixar film, and that’s more than enough for Splinter to kick some butt.
Shredder is Coming
The thrilling mid-credits sequence confirms something that fans have been expecting since the film’s announcement – the Turtles’ arch-nemesis, Shredder, is coming. The Joker to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Batman, no villain in the franchise has been more prolific than the evil samurai leader of the dreaded Foot Clan, with the notorious bad guy being depicted as everything from goofy comic relief doofus to terrifying criminal mastermind. The mid-credits scene’s final seconds see Cynthia Utrom request summoning Shredder to take care of these troublesome Turtles once and for all. This seems to set up Shredder as some sort of assassin and bounty hunter, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t be a significant threat for Leo, Raph (Brady Noon), Donnie, and Mikey in the already-announced sequel.