OFTEN TIMES IN superhero stories, our protagonists will come face to face with a someone who’s just like them… but going about things in a rather violent or destructive way. That’s what we like to call a villain—and if handled right, it can make for a really good one. Think about Paul Dano’s Riddler in 2022’s The Batman, showing up opposite Robert Pattinson’s Batman. At bare bones basics, both men come from essentially the same place, but external circumstances led one to be a vigilante hero, and the other to be a psychopathic villain.
That’s basically the recipe that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, the newest reboot of the long-running franchise from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, uses with its main villain, Superfly. Named in homage to the classic 1972 blaxploitation neo-noir film (and accompanying classic Curtis Mayfield soundtrack), Mutant Mayhem‘s villain and the Ninja Turtles essentially have the same exact origin story: born as animals and mutated by ooze from a mad scientist.
And at its core, Mutant Mayhem is a superhero origin story. So while the Ninja Turtles spent 15 years living in the sewers and becoming teenagers, Superfly channeled the hatred he felt from humanity into a violent hatred toward humanity. And, thus, a villain was born.
Superfly, by that name, is a brand new villain to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. But he’s got inklings of the series history in his DNA, quite literally. Below, you can find more out about Mutant Mayhem‘s chief baddie.
Superfly isn’t in any other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles media—he was created just for Mutant Mayhem.
Longtime Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans may think back to the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series of the late ’80s and early ’90s, and remember the story of a mad scientist named Baxter Stockman, and how he mutates/transforms into a bizarre fly/man hybrid. This tribute to David Cronenberg’s famous 1986 body horror version of The Fly became seemingly the landmark version of this story—until Mutant Mayhem director Jeff Rowe and the film’s writers decided to do something different: make Baxter Stockman (voiced here by Giancarlo Esposito) and the mutant fly he’s responsible for (voiced by Ice Cube) into entirely different characters.
This wasn’t always the case, though. “The original design of Superfly was as a mutated version of Baxter Stockman,” Rowe told Collider in an interview. “Which is why the toys, which have a really long lead time… the Superfly toy has a sweater and a necktie, which is not a thing appropriate at all for his character.”
Things change over the course of making an animated film, and, clearly, the splitting of the characters was one essential for the narrative of Mutant Mayhem, and it’s not hard to see why. With Superfly as his own character, it’s easier to juxtapose the agency between him and the Turtles, over just about the same period of time, that led to one being a hero and one being a villain. If Superfly was a mutated version of Baxter, then he’s got a whole previous mad scientist life that audiences aren’t seeing and are unable to judge.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’s villain, Superfly, is voiced by Ice Cube
If Superfly’s brash tones sounded familiar, it may be because you’ve heard them before rapping “It Was a Good Day,” leading Friday or Barbershop, or yelling at Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. Superfly was voiced by Ice Cube.
In an interview with Animation Magazine, Rowe made it clear that it wasn’t super hard to convince the NWA legend to come aboard the production. “We had a meeting with Ice Cube and when we told him his character’s name was Superfly, he laughed, and we knew he was in,” he said. “He later told us that he watched Ninja Turtles a lot with his son as his son grew up, so it was a meaningful franchise to him.”
Cube is happy with his performance, too. “I am so good in this,” he told Men’s Health. “It’s time to do a Superfly spinoff. It’s time for Superfly to get his shine.”
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.