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Wednesday, August 02, 2023 

Seth Rogen prefers adapting indie comics to screen, but he's not a good steward for those either

Polygon interviewed actor-producer Rogen, who's got a Ninja Turtles cartoon in production, about certain positions he takes regarding mainstream and independent comic properties, but there's reasons why his statements ring hollow. First:
You’re quietly one of the biggest producers of indie comics adaptations in Hollywood. Preacher, The Boys, Invincible, and going back to The Green Hornet. How do you define your taste in comics? What kind of comic is the comic that grips you so hard that you go, Yeah, I think I want to make this my job for a year?

Well, first of all, it’s everything that is not Marvel and DC. [laughs] So that eliminates a lot right away. I grew up going to comic book shops, and it’s funny, video stores are making a slight comeback in some ways. This idea of browsing and not having things fed to you — as I think people feel we are now when it comes to entertainment — but instead entering the fair market of entertainment and just wandering around and seeing what catches your eye. [...]

What has turned you off from Marvel and DC?

Honestly, probably fear. [laughs] We really have a pretty specific way we work; me and Evan have been writers for 20 years at this point. It’s a fear of the process, honestly. And I say that knowing nothing about the process. There are a lot of Marvel things I love.

It’s mostly a fear of how would we plug into the system they have in place, which seems like a very good system, and a system that serves them very well. But is it a system that we would ultimately get really frustrated with? And what’s nice about [Mutant Mayhem] is that we’re the producers of this. So we dictated the system, and we dictated the process in a lot of ways. And that’s what’s also appealing for us about The Boys and the other bigger franchise-y type things we’ve done, is that we are creating the infrastructure and process for them, not plugging into someone else’s infrastructure and process. We’re control freaks!
If it weren't for the pretensions I realized Rogen's got, his arguments - which sound like a complaint about the lack of creative freedom now problemizing the major movies - this would've been a lot more impressive, and more on which anon. Until then, here's something else that comes up that merely dampens the impact even more:
Do you have comics on your bucket list for adaptation? Or, alternatively, what comics are you reading these days that you can’t put down?

That’s a good question. What have I been reading? I read old comics, from time to time. There’s these Green Lantern comics I’ve been reading, I love all those Grant Morrison Superman ones, I was rereading those because I heard that that’s what the James Gunn Superman movie was gonna be inspired by. I read them when they first came out, but I feel like I was distracted, so I went back.

Are there any that I wish we could make or adapt? Every once in a while? Yeah, those Grant Morrison ones are really appealing. We3 is something I’m a big fan of. It seems maybe just too sad honestly; it just bummed me out.

[Ed. note: We3 is a comic series written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely about a trio of weaponized cyborg-animal hybrids. It’s infamous for its extreme violence and extreme pathos.]

We’ve kind of been down that road — and we know Grant a little bit, we’ve talked to him. That’s what’s nice, is we’ve done well with things that were traditionally considered unmakeable, essentially, for a long time. But also we don’t want to ruin things we love. So we’ll have very honest conversations with Grant and just talk about it and where his head’s at, and where our heads are at. Things like We3, we’ve talked to him about several times over the years. And we’re kind of always like, Yeah, I just don’t think this is the thing right now. There’s things like that — we really talk to the creators to make sure that we all think it’s a good idea, at that moment, in that way.
Well if the overrated liberal ideologue Morrison's take on Supes is the wellspring Gunn wants to go by, that's all realists need to know for why any upcoming film is best avoided. And look at that, a most violent comic is what Rogen considers inspirational. That aside, here's the bad news about Rogen's visions, as revealed through Bounding Into Comics, and this won't shock anyone at this point. It's about his take on Ninja Turtles:
Film reviewer and critic Price of Reason claims that the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem film from Seth Rogen not only turns Splinter into a human-hating bigot, but it also makes him gay.

After watching an early screening of the film, Price of Reason shared his review where he notes the film takes significant liberties with not only Splinter, but the Turtles as well.

He began with the Turtles, “In all the adaptations that we’ve seen to date the Turtles usually take their fighting seriously even if they are at times a bit humorous and playful. They usually seem rather confident and competent. While each of them have certain strengths, flaws, and unique skills, they also show real respect towards Splinter, who is their caretaker, but also their mentor.

“In this movie, they are pretty much the exact opposite if everything I just said,” Price of Reason noted. “They always seem like these insecure, weak losers and never really exude confidence and never convince you that they’ve taken charge of a situation.”

He went on, “The Turtles also don’t seem to do a lot of fighting in this movie and when they do it all looks rather lackluster. And for some reason the Turtles constantly treat Splinter with extreme disrespect like he’s some kind of nuisance.”

“And to make matters worse they always act and talk like a cross between Seth Rogen, five-year-old children, and weirdos on Tik Tok. I suppose that Rogen thought this was a good idea because it would appeal to modern audiences, but by making the Turtles this way he’s really stripped away their identities or agency,” he said.

[...] Price of Reason then revealed they made him into a homosexual, “To add insult to injury, at the end of the movie Splinter is seen making out with Scumbug and then professing his love for Scumbug who he seemingly enters into a relationship with.”

“Now that in and of itself is already out of character for Splinter as we’ve known him for years as it just doesn’t seem like something he would do. But then later after researching the character posters for this movie and also consulting with Tom from Midnight’s Edge, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’ve decided to present Splinter in this movie as an LGBT character, a creative decision that I disagree with since he’s never been presented that way in the 40 years that this franchise has existed.”
Even earlier, there was news Rogen and company were sex-swapping characters like Leatherhead and Wingnut, and April O'Neil appears to have undergone race-swapping in addition to all the above insults. This certainly is telling what the producers really think of the Ninja Turtles, both in comics and cartoons, and seems to mark a pattern in modern showbiz where heroes are forcibly changed to all but incompetent, as seen with Indiana Jones in the Dial of Debacle film. So Rogen's lecturing us about supposedly not plugging into other folks' infrastructures and process. I guess he doesn't think LGBT ideology counts in these cases, or is suitable for a free pass in all instances. And, it wouldn't be shocking if, despite his contrary claims, he never consulted with creators Eastman and Laird to determine whether changing Splinter to homosexual was a "good" idea. Control freaks, indeed. If I were in Eastman/Laird's shoes, I'd be embarrassed. They sold the ownership of the Ninja Turtles for this?

There's also a point one can make that, when all the writers can do is make certain characters homosexual, it's a form of PC economy scripting that effectively trashes the chance to create a female character to take a love interest role, or even use a femme who's already there and available. Interesting how a character rendered homosexual is still disrespected - here, by the Turtles themselves - which actually gives a considerable hint what the producers really think of master and disciples alike. That is, they chose to humiliate both sides in one movie. And in doing so, it's all one needs to know what they realky think of the comic's own fandom, who'd do well to stay far away from this atrocity that proves Rogen's not the genius he's being promoted as by an uncaring press. After what's been reported, I'd rather not watch Rogen's productions ever again.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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