Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Has Its Own Version of Stan Lee's Marvel Cameos

TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman has a small but important voice role in Mutant Mayhem

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opened in theaters this weekend, and it is off to a strong start at the global box office. The animated movie is full of Easter eggs referencing the nearly 40-year history of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, including a couple pulling from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys from the early 1990s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem also features a significant cameo that fans may have missed, one that's meant to be like Stan Lee's famous Marvel movie cameos. That's because it's a voice cameo by Kevin Eastman, one of the two creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. [Some SPOILERS follow for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem].

Eastman co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Peter Laird in 1984. Eastman sold his stake in the Ninja Turtles to Laird in 2000 and stepped away from the franchise. However, since Laird sold Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Viacom (now Paramount) in 2009, Eastman has returned to the series to co-write IDW Publishing's comics and consult on various projects. 

Kevin Eastman's cameo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Eastman is credited as "Good Human." He voices the human who helps Splinter up during the final battle against Superfly at the movie's climax. Speaking to /Film, director Jeff Rowe explained that they felt it was important to get someone essential to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise to voice that role, comparing it to Stan Lee's presence in the Marvel Studios moves.

"He's the human who helps Splinter up at the end," Rowe explained. "He helps him out. And we wanted that to be someone meaningful to the franchise, and we were so happy Kevin was willing to do that. I'm appreciative of the Stan Lee cameos in Marvel films, and it felt like a great way to honor him and the beautiful gift he has given the world."

Some might wonder why Laird doesn't have a similar cameo, and that's unknown. For a time, Laird and Eastman were not speaking to one another, but they reunited not long ago and seemingly buried whatever hatchet existed between them. However, while Eastman has remained involved with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over the past decade, Laird backed away from the official franchise, having carved out a clause in the Viacom deal allowing him to produce a certain number of self-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics each year. Laird published through Mirage Studios, the original home of the Turtles, until 2014, and Mirage officially shut down in 2021. For whatever reason, Laird does not have any direct involvement with the Turtles these days, though Mutant Mayhem does pay homage with a sign for "The Laird" in the scene where April O'Neil and the Turtles share a pizza after their first meeting.

Speaking of Stan Lee, did you know that Marvel wanted to publish Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics at one point? It's true.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem marks the latest movie in the long-running media franchise, and a new reboot for four turtle brothers.  Seth Rogen produced the movie, and lends his voice to its huge ensemble cast. In the film, the titular heroes venture out into the real world after years of living isolated in the sewers. Though they try to be recognized as normal teenagers by their heroics, a crime syndicate with an army of mutants makes everything more difficult for them and threatens their plans for joining society. The voice cast for the film includes Micah Abbey as Donatello, Shamon Brown Jr. as Michelangelo, Nicolas Cantu as Leonardo, and Brady Noon as Raphael. TMNT: Mutant Mayhem includes a slew of celebrities as well like Ayo Edebiri as April O'Neil, Jackie Chan as Splinter, Seth Rogen as Bebop, John Cena as Rocksteady, Ice Cube as Superfly, Giancarlo Esposito as Baxter Stockman, Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko, and Maya Rudolph as Cynthia Utrom. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opened in theaters on August 2nd.