Is TMNT Marvel? Marvel Comics and DC Comics are the two biggest players in the field of American comic books. Both publishing houses are known for their superheroes and expanded franchises, including TV shows and films (both live-action and animated), video games, books, and other merchandise. Due to this fact, it is rare to find a successful comic-based franchise not part of either Marvel or DC. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are definitely a successful comics-based franchise, but how does the franchise connect to Marvel and DC?
Is TMNT Marvel?
There have been plenty of crossover events between the Marvel and DC Comic universes over the years, but it may be a third outside property that most intrinsically ties together the two comic book powerhouses: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It’s a poorly-kept secret that the Ninja Turtles were sneakily meant to share the same origin story with Matt Murdock’s Daredevil. The chemical that blinded young Matt was meant to be the very same Ooze that turned everyone’s favorite baby turtles in the Heroes in a Halfshell fans have loved for the past few decades. And the Daredevil/Marvel connections and homages don’t end there.
While Matt Murdock retrieved his training from an older master called Stick, the Turtles had Splinter. Instead of constantly facing off with Daredevil’s The Hand, the Turtles’ nemesis is The Foot Clan. TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were gloriously unsubtle about it all.
So if the Ninja Turtles technically sort of exist within the Marvel Comics universe, that means whatever other universes they pop up in are also arguably entwined. So, say, when the reptilian heroes teamed up with Batman, could a conclusion be drawn that the Turtles exist in both the Marvel and DC Universes? The Turtles have fought side-by-side with the Power Rangers (with TMNT arch nemesis Shredder even once became the Green Ranger), so that drags another franchise into the mix.
The Ghostbusters apparently share the same universe, considering they’ve teamed up with the Turtles on more than one occasion. So does that mean Angel Grove, CA exists in the same world as Gotham and Wakanda? Does Pete Venkman drive past Avengers Tower on his way to work in the Ghostbusters’ New York? The connection, tentative though it may be, opens a can of worms in terms of potential fan theories.
Extrapolating further as to how many different fictional universes the Turtles tie together, and the various and exponential branches those connections create is a head-spinning exercise in nerdiness. The Ghostbusters have crossed paths with the Mars Attacks aliens, so there’s another fictional world to add to the mix.
The Punisher and Archie have crossed paths multiple times, so does that mean Riverdale exists in this universe? As a matter of fact, even Batman has met Archie in the past, adding slightly more credence to this admittedly ridiculous idea. The Justice League and the Power Rangers have co-mingled, offering even more “proof.”
Following this absurd logic and diving deeper down the rabbit hole, the possibilities are almost endless. Chun-Li once became a Power Ranger, so that drags the Street Fighter universe into the mix. The Turtles have crossed over into the X-Files universe, which coexists with The Simpsons universe.
Predator, Aliens, and even Sharknados could all exist within this weird, ever-expanding hypothetical universe. The number of connections to be drawn is truly staggering enough to bust out a cork board and some red strings, because there’s a Pepe Silvia-level of connections to be made. Add in the fact that Michelangelo appeared in the ’80s anti drug PSA movie Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue, and the mind will boggle with interconnecting universes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not a part of Marvel or DC
This is particularly interesting because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is connected to both Marvel and DC, but it has never been part of their fictional universes.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were partially based on Frank Miller’s run on the Daredevil comic book, which is part of Marvel’s slate. For example, the ooze that created the Turtles seems to be the same ooze that blinded Daredevil, and the Foot Clan is an hommage to the Hand. But these were only influences, references, and homages, as the Turtles never became part of Marvel’s universe; they have never even crossed over with it as they did with DC Comics.
As for DC Comics, the Turtles have crossed over with DC’s most famous character, Batman, but they never became part of that universe, nor did DC have the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The major narrative crossover we are talking about is the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover that was published by DC and IDW between 2015 and 2019. The series contains three parts, the first of which was published in 2015, the second in 2017, and the final one in 2019; the success of the main narrative also inspired a 6-issue spin-off series.
Ms. Marvel Creates Continuity Headache by Referencing Ninja Turtles
Minor spoilers for this week’s episode of Ms. Marvel (but also this article is for kicks and giggles and shouldn’t be taken seriously). Considering its place as a true juggernaut of pop culture, and how it frequently tries to root itself in the “real world,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe pretty regularly references pop culture.
As the MCU has continued to balloon in size however, the things that can be referenced easily and without creating a confusing Easter egg has gotten much smaller. Now the MCU has gotten to a point where it’s referencing things that were made directly as a result of Marvel, and giving us a headache in the process.
In the latest episode of Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan finds herself in a battle with Kareem/Red Dagger, one where she exploits her powers to get around his ninja-like maneuvers. Mid-fight Kamala makes a comment on one his moves, saying: “Where’d you learn to jump like that? Ninja Turtles?” Good joke, funny even, but one that creates a minor nightmare for the MCU.
As some fans no doubt know, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came about as a result of Marvel Comics. Franchise creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird began experimenting with the idea for the series as an homage, and later parody, of Frank Miller’s seminal run on Daredevil.
For the original comics the origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is written so that the toxic ooze that created Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, was also the same ooze (and same incident even) that blinded Matt Murdock and gave him his radar-vision powers. Other Daredevil connections also exist in the lore of TMNT: The Turtles fight “The Foot,” while Daredevil fights “The Hand;” their master is “Splinter,” Daredevil’s master is “Stick.” The connectivity is obvious and hard to ignore, making this a wild thing to ponder in the grand scheme of the MCU.
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