Tom Wopat in: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990 Version)

as: Baxter Stockman

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, essentially, one of the most successful results of a random drunken conversation ever. Over a few adult beverages, creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird more or less challenged each other to create the weirdest, most random comic book character they could think of. The result was the Ninja Turtles, quickly amended to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to make them even weirder.

No way a sober person came up with this.

No way a sober person came up with this.

After a relatively long and somewhat successful run of black and white comics (first self-published, then picked up by Mirage Studios), the series was transmogrified into the colorful action figures and cartoon series that made the Ninja Turtles into household names. The first feature film based on the characters, released in 1990, is still arguably the best, though it played fast and loose with the comic series’ established mythology (as well as the cartoon series’ mythology, which was itself significantly modified from the comic book version).

As such, we figured another tweak or two wouldn’t hurt. What better way to tweak…well, anything, than by adding Tom Wopat?

Wopatization Is Kind of Like Mutation

Baxter Stockman was always one of our favorite secondary TMNT characters, but he unfortunately never made it into the big leagues of live-action movies. Here, we set out to both correct that egregious oversight and give Tom Wopat a place in the greatest mutant-based film franchise of all time. (Sorry, X-Men.)

In the comic books and the cartoon series, Stockman starts out as a super-intelligent scientist working for the Shredder, and eventually ends up mutating into a humanoid fly (not unlike Jeff Goldblum in The Fly). He also invented the robotic Mousers that terrorize the Ninja Turtles and their mutant rat sensei, Splinter, many, many times throughout both series. Long story short, he’s a bad guy.

However, there’s more than enough going on in the first Ninja Turtles movie without adding another mutant baddie, so we’d leave his mutation (and the Mousers) for later films. In our Wopatized version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stockman would be one of those minor characters that you can tell will become important later on. (For other examples of this talking picture phenomenon, see basically any movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Here, Stockman would be a brilliant, but unappreciated scientist whose occupational apathy gets him fired from TGRI, the company shown in the sequel, The Secret of the Ooze, to be responsible for the mutagen that made the Turtles what they are. Stockman soon enters Shredder’s employ, instantly becoming the smartest person on the Foot Clan payroll.

However, his genius is still underutilized. Instead of actual scientific research, Stockman is put to work sciencing up the metal stampings that make up Shredder’s armor in an attempt to make the razor-sharp metal plates even more deadly. Again feeling unappreciated, and realizing that his new boss is a villain, Stockman defects and joins the Ninja Turtles to thwart the Foot’s schemes.

Why Wopat?

Tom Wopat is the perfect actor for this role for a number of reasons. Number One, he’s awesome. No more explanation necessary there, amirite?

Beyond that, we feel that Wopat could very convincingly portray a super-scientist in this sort of film. At the time the film was released, he was 39 years old, which seems about right to be a scientist who’s that advance in his career, but also straight up sick of his job. Wopat would give the character the ideal balance of comic book energy, charm, and pathos. He’d also be just the right amount of famous to play a character about whom viewers are meant to think “he’s not that important now, but I bet he will be later.”

Photo credit: W10002 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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