LOS ANGELES - Michael Bay thinks "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" fans need to chill.
The 47-year-old director-producer incited outrage among fans of the superhero franchise when he revealed at the Nickelodeon upfront presentation in New York last week that the pizza-loving, crime-fighting turtles would come from an "alien race" in a "Ninja Turtles" film he is producing.
According to franchise lore, mysterious radioactive ooze transformed the turtles into superheroes who battle evildoers.
"Fans need to take a breath and chill," Bay said in a statement posted on his site Monday night. "They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of `Ninja Turtles' to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world."
"Ninja Turtles" debuted as a comic book in 1984 before spawning a franchise that included toys, TV shows, films and video games.
Fans took to Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites to vent about the apparent change to the wisecracking turtles' origins.
Robbie Rist, who voiced the character Michelangelo in the original 1990 live-action film adaptation, said Monday in a Facebook message that Bay is "sodomizing" the original movies and causing "the rape of our childhood memories."
Bay, who directed the past three "Transformers" movies, said last week that "kids are going to believe one day these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie" and that they come "from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable."
The new take on the "Ninja Turtles" is set for release next year by Paramount Pictures under the Nickelodeon Movies label.