A new, final trailer for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been released, with plenty of new footage. In the new scenes, we got our first, full look at Master Splinter, the sensei of the title’s Ninja Turtles. In the movie, the rat Splinter will be portrayed by dwarf actor Danny Woodburn, and voiced by Tony Shalhoub. In the trailer, we can hear Splinter teaching unity and discipline to his mutant pupils, and he’s also seen fighting (without much of a positive result, actually) a radically powered-up Shredder, who now displays a futuristic, mechanical armor. As one of the main characters, Splinter has appeared in every movie or tv series involving the Turtles, both the original trilogy and the tv show The Next Mutation (usually with the poorest rendering), and he always filled the role of the wise and old mentor. This time, at least, it seems he’ll take a more active role for himself. Let’s see together.
Splinter was born a normal rat in Japan: when he was still a whelp, he was found and “adopted” by Hamato Yoshi, a ninja master from the Foot Clan, who took him in his house as his pet. Splinter proved to be quite an intelligent animal, and Yoshi found out with quite a surprise that, when he trained near the rat’s cage, the latter observed him, and tried to mimic his movements. This strange behavior brought Yoshi to grow fond of his weird pet, and when he killed a man to win the love of Tang Shen and was forced to leave Japan to atone his crime, he chose to take the rat with him in the United States, where he began a new life with Shen. Yoshi founded a small martial arts school in New York, and Splinter witnessed all his lessons from his cage, learning Ninjutsu by mirroring his master’s movements and gestures. Unfortunately, Oroku Saki, a Foot Clan member brother to the man killed by Hamato Yoshi, tracked him back to the States, and murdered both him and Tang Shen. During the fight between Yoshi and Saki, Splinter’s cage was broken; when the killer finished his job, he obviously saw no reason for killing the old rat as well, and left Yoshi’s apartment. Splinter, left alone, came out of his broken cage, and then left the apartment, wandering through the streets of New York. While he was walking with no destination, he witnessed an accident involving a truck that transported a toxic chemical, Ooze. The truck almost ran over a boy carrying a bowl with four turtles in it: the boy was saved, but the bowl broke, and the turtles got carried away by the green chemical leaked from the truck’s trailer to the sewers. Splinter ran to save them, and unwillingly bathed himself in the Ooze to save the young turtles. That very night, his body started to mutate.
The rat and the turtles woke up the morning after the accident with intellect and size remarkably increased: the five of them could now walk upright, and soon learned to speak. It was one of the turtles who named the rat, who was taking care of them by bringing
them food and building for them a place to stay in the sewers, “Splinter”. In return, Splinter used an old book on Reinassance he found in the sewers to name his proteges Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello. Knowing he was old, likely to die soon, Splinter decided to teach Ninjutsu to the four turtles, so that they could, one day, accomplish what he could not: to kill Oroku Saki, who now went by the name Shredder, and to avenge Hamato Yoshi in the process. Splinter made the turtles true ninjas, and when they came of age, he told them about their origin and his master, entrusting them with the mission of killing the Shredder and vanquishing his Western branch of the Foot Clan, which had by now become a criminal organization. The Turtles, who had been taught also Splinter’s honor code, accomplished their master’s request, found Shredder, and killed him in combat (even if it took the combined effort of the four and a great luck to dispose of the enemy). The family then resolved to live together in the sewers, and to act as vigilantes to fight for justice, unseen by the humans. Troubles for Splinter arrived when Dr. Baxter Stockman built the Mousers, robots programmed to kill rats: severely wounded in a fight with an army of lethal robots, Splinter was found and cured by a group of strange men, the Techno Cosmic Research Institute, who the rat discovered were actually aliens, the Utroms, who told him they were responsible for his and his “sons” mutation. Now knowing that his and his pupils’ nature wasn’t the result of chance, he came back to the Turtles with a renewed spirit, ready to continue with his role as a mentor and a sensei.
Despite his appearance is the one of a gigantic, hideous rat, Master Splinter is a wise and spiritual sensei, a ninja master who possesses a high and sharp intellect and a good heart. Thanks to his “lessons” with Hamato Yoshi, Splinter is an extremely skilled martial artist, proficient with any weapon and gifted with an infallible aim with bow and arrow, able to single-handedly defeat his four disciples, even coming all at once. Always calm and controlled, Splinter is a true father figure for the Ninja Turtles, the steadfast moral pillar of their family and a guidance in bright and dark times.