Michelangelo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Michelangelo as seen in the Nickelodeon TV series.
|First appearance||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
|Created by||Kevin Eastman
|Partnerships||Horridus, Lee Hamato|
|Notable aliases||Turtle Titan|
|Abilities||Highly skilled in ninjutsu
agility, speed, and strength
Master of stealth
Mastery of kobudō
Master of twin offensive nunchuck
Michelangelo, often shortened to Mike or Mikey, is one of the four protagonists of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and all related media. His mask is typically portrayed as orange outside of the Mirage/Image Comics and his weapons are dual nunchucks, though he has also been portrayed using other weapons, such as a grappling hook, manriki-gusari, tonfa, and a three section staff (in some action figures).
More fun-loving than his brothers, Michelangelo was given a much bigger role in the 1987 cartoon series, directed at a younger audience, than in the more serious original comic books which was aimed at an older audience. He often coins most of their catchphrases, such as "Cowabunga!". Like all of the brothers, he is named after a Renaissance artist; in this case, he is named after Michelangelo Buonarroti. The spelling of the character's name varies from source to source, and he has been alternately shown as both Michelangelo and Michaelangelo.
- 1 Comic books
- 2 Television
- 3 Movies
- 4 Video games
- 5 Spelling
- 6 Klunk
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In the original comic books, Michelangelo was initially depicted as fun-loving, carefree, and, while not as aggressive as Raphael, always ready to fight. He is much more serious-natured in the comic book than in the film incarnations, which have labeled his character a permanent "dude" talking pre-teen. It was Michelangelo's one-shot in this series that fleshed out most of the traits that have become synonymous with the character, such as his playfulness, empathy, and easygoing nature. In the one-shot story, Michelangelo adopts a stray cat (which he names Klunk) and also stops thieves from stealing toys meant for orphaned children.
After their defeat at the hands of the Foot Clan the Turtles, Splinter, April O'Neil, and Casey Jones retreat to a farm house in Northampton, Massachusetts which used to belong to Casey's grandmother. While there, April is worried to note that Michelangelo is not himself. He spends his days in the barn taking out his aggression on a punching bag. A scene shows him lashing out at his surroundings and repeatedly punching the wall of the barn until it breaks, then collapsing on it despondently, anger spent. The end of the story implies that Michelangelo's sorrow and frustration have been resolved, as subsequent issues restore Michelangelo's more relaxed, optimistic personality.
It is during the group's time at the farm we learn that Michelangelo also has an interest in comic books, specifically ones involving superheroes such as "The Justice Force" (comic book heroes based on The Justice League and The Fantastic Four). He also finds solace in writing fiction and has produced a story depicting himself as a ronin in Feudal Japan.
In the story arc City at War, Michelangelo instantly bonds with Casey Jones' adopted daughter Shadow, who nicknames him "Rooish". In the second volume, the Turtles decide to try to live apart from one another. Michelangelo, the social creature that he is, moves in with April and Casey so that he can be close to Shadow. Throughout the first two volumes, Michelangelo seemed to act as peacemaker of the team. These stories also laid the foundations which demonstrated his closeness with Donatello, their laid-back natures separating them from the more contentious Leonardo and Raphael.
In Volume 4, Michelangelo gets a job as a tour guide showing alien visitors around Earth. His first (and only) tourist is the Regenta (or "princess") Seri of the Styracodon race. Michelangelo convinces Seri to sneak away from her bodyguards so that he can take her on a tour of the northwest coast of the USA. Their relationship becomes more intimate apparently, when Seri delivers eggs that she claims are "their" children. Unfortunately, before much time is given for him to settle with this news Seri's bodyguards become aware of his machinations. They attack Michelangelo and transport him back to their home world, where he is placed in prison. With the help of a Triceraton prisoner named Azokk, he manages to escape, and is rescued by a group of Triceratons who came to rescue Azokk.
Michelangelo was not given an especially large role in Volumes 1 and 2, did little to advance the plot, and was often not portrayed as an especially skilled fighter. His relatively small role was probably due to the need to establish Leonardo's role as "leader" along with the fact that Donatello was Peter Laird's favorite Turtle, and Raphael was Kevin Eastman's favorite.
In the comics published by Image Comics, Michelangelo's interest in writing is expanded upon and he is established as a writer of fiction and poetry. During this series, Michelangelo develops a romantic relationship with Horridus, whom he credits as his muse in writing. But the relationship wouldn't last, (as the story may have begun after Rapture's death), she started staying with Officer Dragon and had developed an attraction to him; though Dragon didn't know it himself. Michelangelo would be heartbroken when Sarah dumps him. An early issue has him selling his first poem to a poetry digest. As the comic continued, Michelangelo's career as a writer gradually expanded. In the final issue, he has published his first novel, a romance called "A Rose Among the Thorns". April mentions that the book was already going back for a second printing and that she'd heard that Oprah Winfrey loved it, which "practically guarantees that it will be a best-seller". It is interesting to note that Michelangelo is the only Turtle who did not end up disfigured in some way in this series; Leonardo lost his left hand and had it replaced by a steel cap with a retractable blade, Raphael was facially disfigured after being shot in the face, and Donatello was transformed into a cyborg after being shot and thrown out of a helicopter.
In the Archie Comics series, Michelangelo was initially presented very similarly to his 1987 cartoon portrayal-understandable, considering that the comic started as an adaption of the popular animated series. As the series progressed, Archie's Michelangelo was presented as more mature than the cartoon version. This version developed also an interest in poetry. During a battle, he was temporarily blinded and later captured by the US military, whereupon he was interrogated and tortured. He was eventually rescued by his family and saved the life of the man who tortured him.
One of his many skills in the Archie comics was the ability to communicate with animals. In a storyline set in the future, Michelangelo is shown to have become an artist whose main job is running an orphanage.
1987 animated series
Michelangelo's persona became strongly established in the 1987 animated series. He was often seen as a "Party Dude", which, though accurate in the 1987 series (which gave him this title in the theme song), accounts for only part of his personality otherwise. As the "party dude", he usually didn't have much input in the team's plans, although he was still just as active as his brothers. He typically spent much of his time joking and socializing with other characters. He is most associated with the "Cowabunga" expression that became a pop culture phenomenon.
Michelangelo had a fondness for pizza, even beyond that of the other Turtles; in the Season 3 episode Cowabunga, Shredhead, his pizza cravings annoyed the others so much that Splinter hypnotized him into refusing and denouncing pizza whenever the very word was mentioned, although the hypnosis was lifted at the end of the episode. He was essentially a provider of comic relief, alongside Raphael.
Michelangelo also received his distinctive voice, which has been imitated in other portrayals of him, in the 1990 series. Employing a "surfer slang" vocabulary, he customarily spoke with a unique hybrid of a Californian surfer accent (not unlike the speech of the Spicoli character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and what may have been a stereotypical "stoner" accent, though no reference is ever made to drugs in the series and it is likely that the voicing simply emphasized his laid-back and somewhat innocent attitude. In fact, Michelangelo appeared in a 1990 animated special, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, alongside other famous cartoon characters, intended to inform children about the dangers of substance abuse. Additionally, all four of the Turtles were official "spokes-turtles" of the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign, despite accusations that at least one of them exhibited characteristics of a stoner. During one of these anti-drug PSAs, Michelangelo suggests to a kid being tempted with marijuana that he should "get a pizza" to go with it, before the idea is shot down by Donatello. Michelangelo's trademark phrase in this series is the famous "Cowabunga".
Michelangelo's voice actor was Townsend Coleman in the 1987 series' original English language version and Johnny Castro in the 25th anniversary movie Turtles Forever. Michelangelo also made a couple of appearances in the 2012 series in the episode, The Manhattan Project. He and the other turtles along with Casey and April are seen through a portal by their 2012 counterparts walking on a road and he made a speaking cameo along with the other turtles at the end of the episode when a space worm from the 2012 dimension started terrorising the street. All four turtles see the worm and spring into action while shouting their famous catchphrase, 'Cowabunga'. Townsend Coleman reprised his role as Michelangelo for the cameo. This would mark the first time in over 28 years the 1987 TMNT cast would return to their roles. With exception of Rob Paulsen who returned to the TMNT franchise as Donatello in the 2012 series.
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation
2003 animated series
In the 2003 TV series, Michelangelo is voiced by Wayne Grayson. Known as 'Mikey' to his brothers, his personality is more akin to the Mirage comics than the 1987 show. Still the comic relief, he often makes statements that spoof pop culture, although he uses less surfer slang than in the 1987 cartoon. His trademark nunchucku are once again his primary weapon, but he has used other weapons such as grappling hooks and those of his brothers. He is slightly more immature than in the Mirage comics-particularly apparent by a high-pitched scream. Unlike other incarnations, he was often more reluctant to fight and he likes to tease and annoy his older brothers, especially Raphael, for whom Michelangelo is the foil. In fact, a running gag is that whenever Michelangelo says or does something excessively outrageous and stupid, usually involving a catch-phrase from the 1987 show, one of his brothers (usually Raphael) will slap him on the head. Other characters such as Master Splinter and the Ancient One have picked up on this habit but usually whenever he disobeys. In the Fast Forward episode Time is Everything, when Michelangelo was talking too much, Splinter flipped over his seat he was sitting on causing him to fall on the ground, replying afterwards that "Somebody had to do it. It was… time."
Raphael and Michelangelo mostly have a love-hate relationship in which Michelangelo frequently antagonizes Raphael (it especially hurts Raphael's pride that Michelangelo has bested him more than once, both times because Raphael's anger got in the way), but Raphael shows that he cares about him whenever he's in danger. He also seems to be very close with Donatello, where the two are often paired together when Leonardo and Raphael are either arguing or training. Also, Mikey is often the one most enthusiastic about Donatello's newest finished invention, and would jump straight into "helping" Don with his first test run on it, though his "help" is not greatly appreciated by the latter and often generates more trouble. Donatello has also invented a hovercraft- a flying skateboard, at one point of time in Season 2 as means of keeping him quiet while Donatello himself worked. When Mikey was a kid, he and his brothers went with Master Splinter to Japan to bury Master Yoshi's ashes next to his beloved. While there they helped Master Splinter and the Ancient One win a fight against a ghost that was sent by the Foot Mystics to revive the Demon Shredder and that is when they gain their ninja masks. This happens in the episode (Fathers and Sons).
Michelangelo is also appointed to be "the one with the brightest fire" or with the most potential by The Ancient One. Master Splinter also claims a few times that Michelangelo obtains the most "raw talent" of all the brothers. Although, both Master Splinter and The Ancient One, say because of Michelangelo's lack of focus and interest in training, he will probably never meet his full potential. Michelangelo also claims many times in this series that he wishes not to be so serious and focused like his eldest brother, Leonardo. He also tells his other brothers to "chillax" and not be so serious all the time.
His agility and speed also play a bigger role than in the comics or other TV series and movies. It is shown in activities such as training runs, fights, and training, that Michelangelo clearly is the fastest of the four, in which is brothers are constantly having to catch up with him. It also plays a role in the 1st season when Michelangelo and Raphael are fighting, that Michelangelo keeps taunting Raphael, but because of his speed, Raphael cannot tackle him. This is shown more than once. His speed was the main reason he won The Battle Nexus, along with his ability to "get under people's skin" and taunt them. He is also portrayed as the best gymnast of the four. This is true partly because Master Splinter always sends him off to do backflips or extra training as punishment for goofing off or losing focus. Both of these abilities allow Michelangelo to taunt his opponents and beat them quickly without getting hurt by his opponent in the process.
Michelangelo is regularly treated as the youngest brother and little is expected of him. However, he has shown innocent empathy for others as shown in particular by his adoption of Klunk the stray kitten, to whom he is very close and also by his relationship with Leatherhead. It is his initial awareness of Leatherhead's humanity which ends up forging the bond between the crocodile and the other Turtles. He enjoys Leatherhead's company, although he can tease him on occasion against his better judgment. However, he cares greatly for the crocodile and is quick and willing to forgive and reassure him when a rampaging Leatherhead injures him in a blind, nightmarish rage in the episode 'Hunted.' Leatherhead also appears to care greatly for Michelangelo and is distraught when he believes he has fatally injured him, but delighted to discover that his fears are unfounded when he finds out that the turtle is alive and well.
As in the Mirage comics, Michelangelo is an avid fan of comic book superheroes. In some episodes, he takes on the role of a costumed super hero called "Turtle Titan" and befriends other superheroes such as the "Silver Sentry" and the "Justice Force". As Turtle Titan, Michelangelo uses grappling hooks as both a weapon and a mode of transportation.
Although not shown as particularly focused on ninjutsu, preferring to spend his time reading comics or watching movies, he is quite an effective fighter and in the Season 2 finale, he became the Battle Nexus Champion, considered the best fighter in the multiverse. Although his victory was due in part to several very lucky breaks (with Raphael even referring to it as "sheer dumb luck, emphasis on the 'dumb' part), Michelangelo later won a rematch against the last finalist and earned a medal of honor for his behavior during the battle, with his ninjutsu prowess being spurred when the opponent revealed that he intended to kill Raphael, Leonardo and Donatello as well after killing Michelangelo in battle, prompting the latter to recall Leonardo's words on how if one of them went down, then all of them would go down as well.
In the crossover movie Turtles Forever, Mikey is the only Turtle who initially likes their comedic 1987 counterparts (he is especially fascinated by the initials on their belt buckles). However, he eventually gets tired of their laid-back attitudes and yells at them when they don't take the 2003 incarnation of Shredder seriously, proving even this version of Mikey has his limits to fooling around.
In early profiles of the 2003 animated series, Michelangelo is regarded as being both the most athletic of the four, and as possessing the single greatest potential in the martial arts out of the quartet, although unfocused on training mentally (though those are admittedly old profiles and may have been early plans for the character, he has certainly proven he is an effective fighter when need be) which prevents him from reaching his fullest potential. This profile statement has since been repeated in the profile of Michelangelo in the lead-up to the debut of the Fast Forward season which began airing on July 29, 2006.
2012 animated series
In the new 2012 series, Michelangelo uses both a kusarigama and nunchucku. His character design was updated as well, making him slightly shorter than his brothers and giving him dark freckles as well as shorter tails on his mask. Mikey is voiced by Greg Cipes.
Mikey is once again portrayed as the youngest brother and is prone to goofing off rather that focusing on his training. However he is still an impressive fighter. His natural affinity for the martial arts is present with his ability to learn moves after seeing it only a few times. He also has the ability to fight without "thinking", once deflecting Splinter's blows while listening to music with his eyes closed, which was something that Donatello had to learn (Although he was unable to do this when directly asked to fight without thinking in their first fight with the telepathic Victor Falco).
Mikey seems to respect Leonardo and although there are few scenes with them interacting together in the first two seasons, it's clear that Leonardo cares about his younger brother. In season three, however, the two of them go on missions together. While looking for Karai one evening, they worked together to rescue their brothers, April, and Casey from Bebop and Rocksteady. After Karai is captured by Shredder Leo volunteers to go solo to find a way to help her, Mikey tags alongside him and assures he is there for him. When Mikey gets eaten by the MegaShredder, Leo fights with all of his might to save him. After Mikey escapes from inside the monster, Leo is overjoyed to see him alive and is proud of the work they have done. Raphael is normally seen as the one Mikey loves to hang out with, usually to Raph's ire. Although Raph repeatedly gives Mikey a beat down for his antics (usually in the form of slapping him to make him shut up) he occasionally shows a more sensitive side when Mikey is feeling down. Particularly at the end of season 2 and the first half of season 3, Raphael is much kinder to Michelangelo and often refers to him affectionately as "little brother". He is also less inclined to slap Mikey, instead flicking him with a finger as a sort of "warning". Of all his brothers, Mikey seems to be the closest to Donatello. This probably stems from the fact that although they are very different they both share a curiosity about things outside ninjitsu. Mikey greatly admires Donnie's new gadgets and is normally the first to test them out,. Mikey additionally enjoys creating names for all the villains in the series, naming ones like "Dogpound" and "Fishface". He even is upset with Donnie when he decides a name (Newtralizer) before Mikey gets the chance, and Donatello yells at Mikey when he attempts to name the mutated Kirby O'Neil "Wingnut" - "You are NOT giving Mr O'Neil a MONSTER NAME!"
Although Mikey isn't the fastest of mind and has a tendency to make mistakes, it's very clear that all of his brothers care very deeply for him. They all show great distress when he gets hurt or is in trouble, and anger at the one who threatens him, i.e. when Baxter Stockman is throwing Mikey around like a sack of potatoes when he is in his more advanced armor. More often than not, Raphael is the one to shout Mikey's name first and attack whoever has harmed his little brother, and was distraught when Mikey was injured during his (Raphael's) brief period as leader of the team.
Master Splinter has yet to reveal what it is Michelangelo must improve on, other than a need to focus. In the First Nickelodeon TMNT Comic Master Splinter tells how Mikey has more raw talent than his three brothers combined. Later in an episode saying that Mikey has his "challenges" too. And even if Mikey can give his brothers grief, they will always care and love him and have his back. It is heavily implied that this version of Michelangelo has some form of ADHD.
Unlike past incarnations, Mikey does not say his famous "Cowabunga" catchphrase, but instead says "BOO-YA-KA-SHA!" He usually does this when doing accomplishing something or attacking an enemy. In the episode "Meet Mondo Gecko" the character Jason (AKA Mondo Gecko) uses 'cowabunga' as his own catchphrase, and Michelangelo says it's "too old school" but later asks if he can use it from time to time.
Michelangelo also has an affinity for animals in this incarnation, as well as a fear of squirrels. Whilst he is more interested in comics and cartoon shows (such as Crognard the Barbarian and Super Robo Mecha Force Five) than animals, he adopted a cat April found on the street after the cat ate some mutagen Mikey had spilled ice cream in, resulting in the arable and delicious Ice Cream Kitty; most likely this incarnation's version of Klunk. Michelangelo's relationship with Ice Cream Kitty parallels Raphael's with pre-mutation Spike, wherein he will tell Ice Cream Kitty his innermost feelings and fears, and not feel judged by them - as often his brothers find Mikey's concerns and thoughts too silly to be worth their time, though said concerns end up being true quite often; such as the existence of the Kraang in "Rise of the Turtles Pt1". Bearing this in mind, however, Michelangelo does not seem to have any special relationships with animals like he has done in other incarnations, though he still cares for animals deeply, as exhibited by his caring for April's chickens whilst the Turtles are at April's old farmhouse at the start of season 3.
Original trilogy (1990-1993)
Michelangelo is depicted in the live-action movies as the easy-going, free-spirited turtle. One of his movie catchphrases is, "I love being a turtle! " and cowabunga! Owing to his popularity with children, he is given many lines and comes up with several (slightly outrageous) plans to advance plots. In the first movie, he and Donatello were regularly paired together while Leonardo and Raphael were arguing. In the first movie and the first sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, he was portrayed by Michelan Sisti; in the second sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, he was portrayed by David Fraser. In all three movies, he was voiced by The Brady Bunch alum Robbie Rist.
In TMNT, Mikey has taken to performing at children's birthday parties as "Cowabunga Carl" in order to help make ends meet to support his family. It becomes apparent early in the film that the physical and emotional absence of his older brothers has finally begun to affect the outgoing Michelangelo; when he returns home from work and announces his presence and no one acknowledges him, he sighs "Whatever..this place used to be fun". Unlike his other incarnations, the 2007 Mikey seems to draw the most emotional support from Donatello instead of his oldest brothers, Leonardo and Raphael. Upon Leonardo's return from Central America, Mikey gives his oldest brother an enthusiastic hug, falling over the couch and tripping over furniture in his excitement. Mikey's lively and innocent demeanor returns in full force when he is in the protective presence of his three brothers again, his good-natured jokes and brief commentaries lightening even in hard situations. Clearly, despite the hardship that his family has recently experienced, Michelangelo has retained much of his usual goofy, laid-back personality and still remains the main form of funny. He is voiced by Mikey Kelley. He is a fantastic skateboarder in this movie, able to complete many tricks underground.
The LEGO Movie
Michelangelo made a cameo appearance in The LEGO Movie as a member of the Master Builders. He was in his 2012 animated series variant. He is introduced by Morgan Freeman's character, Vitruvious, after he introduces a character based of the renaissance artist Michelangelo. Mikey is shown hiding in his shell when Vitruvious mentions Lord Business. He is the only Ninja Turtles character known to make an appearance.
Michelangelo appears in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles portrayed by Noel Fisher. In the film, he is the jokester of the group who loves playing video games and skateboarding. Michelangelo tries to find humor in any situation. However, he proves to be a great fighter if someone messes with him and his brothers. He is not afraid to express his true feelings and also has a crush on April, who does not return the feelings. He will also appear in the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Half Shell.
In the video games based on the 1987 animated series, Michelangelo is virtually identical to Leonardo on every level except attack range, hence being also very popular among beginner players. However, to reflect his flashy personality, this trend was changed became the fastest Turtle in the video games based on the 2003 animated series while Raphael became the strongest. In TMNT: Smash Up, he is voiced by Wayne Grayson.
Michelangelo is one of the main playable characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, where he is voiced by Pierce Cravens. Michelangelo also appears in the 2014 film-based game, voiced by Peter Oldring.
The character's name was originally misspelled as "Michaelangelo", with an additional "a". This misspelling had stuck until 2001 with Volume 4 of the comic series from Mirage Studios, when the spelling was officially changed to "Michelangelo". The 1996 anime also used the "Michelangelo" spelling. On the TMNT 2007 movie teaser poster featuring Michelangelo, we see the "Michaelangelo" spelling, though the movie uses the proper spelling of the name in its credits.
Klunk is Michelangelo's pet cat. He first appeared in the Michelangelo microseries, and was hit by a car and died in the Tales of the TMNT vol. 2 issue 9. Shortly after, the Turtles discovered that Klunk had mated and had kittens with an alley cat.
Klunk also appears in a few episodes of the 2003 cartoon, starting with The Christmas Aliens. Based on the revamped character designs in the Back to the Sewer season, this version of Klunk appears to be female, whereas the Klunk from the Mirage comic was confirmed to be male.
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