By Darren Franich
Updated June 14, 2011 at 02:00 PM EDT
Credit: Everett Collection

As reported exclusively by EW earlier today, Sean Astin has officially joined the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. When I interviewed Astin, he asserted that Raphael — the red-masked, sai-wielding brother who famously gets along terribly with basically everyone on Earth — is, quote, “Everybody‘s favorite Ninja Turtle…the coolest, no question about it.” This assertion totally blew my mind. When I was a kid, my friends were split in three very distinctive directions when it came to the Turtles: My cool friends who played sports liked Leonardo; my friends who didn’t play sports but considered themselves cool liked Michelangelo; and I liked Donatello, which now that I think about it explains everything I have ever done since childhood. Nobody liked Raphael. But maybe I just didn’t know enough badasses with hearts o’ gold? As part of PopWatch’s ongoing quest to answer all the most important questions in culture via plebiscite (a.k.a. “mob rule”), let’s run through our Turtles essentials and put it to a vote: Who is the coolest Ninja Turtle of them all?


Mask Color: Blue.

Weapon: A pair of katana, which are arguably the coolest weapons in the world. (See: Pulp Fiction.)

Theme Song Defining Trait: “Leads”

Named after: Leonardo da Vinci, frontrunner for Most Brilliant Human Being in History.

Most Played Song on his iPod: Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday.

Conclusion: Earns points for being the Turtles’ leader, although like most leaders, he’s doesn’t have very much personality. He’s the Robb Stark of the franchise.


Mask Color: Purple.

Weapon: A wooden bo staff, arguably the Sad Trombone Sound of cool ninja weapons.

Theme Song Defining Trait: “Does Machines”

Named after: Donatello, a brilliant Renaissance-era sculptor who notably has a much smaller Wikipedia page than Donatello the Turtle. Did we mention the Sad Trombone Sound?

Most Played Song on his iPod: “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn.

Conclusion: Beloved by nerds and people who love nerds. But only for very nerdy reasons.


Mask Color: Red.

Weapon: A pair of sai.

Theme Song Defining Trait: “Is cool, but rude”

Named after: Raphael Sanzio da Urbino, the short-lived artist who’s probably best known for creating The School of Athens.

Most Played Song on his iPod: “F— tha Police” by NWA

Conclusion: Depending on how you look at it, Raphael is either a totally badass loner dude, or an utterly annoying teenager who will never listen to anything his incredibly understanding parental figure tells him. In his defense, Sean Astin likes him a lot.


Mask Color: Orange.

Weapon: Nunchaku, inarguably the coolest weapons in the arcade Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.

Theme Song Defining Trait: “Is a party dude”

Named after: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, who sculpted the Statue of David, painted the Sistine Chapel, and generally rocked the house in Renaissance-era Florence.

Most Played Song on his iPod: Every Andrew W.K. song with the word “Party” in the title

Conclusion: Loves to have fun, but is not very bright. He’ll go far in this world.

Okay, everybody, time to pick: Who’s your number one Turtle?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich