When it comes to cinematic adaptations of popular culture, nothing fills the fans with dread more than casting the wrong actor/actress in a huge role. There have been numerous occasions in Hollywood history when the ill-timed casting of a thespian has seriously affected a movie going forward, and on some occasions, it has the potential to derail an entire franchise. Many thought this had happened with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when the film was released in 2014, and despite the fans’ initial negative reception to the casting of Megan Fox as reporter April O’Neil, the film grossed $493.3 million and became a huge success, prompting a sequel. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows quickly went into development.
The clever viewers knew straight away — sequels are bigger and brighter, so all eyes were on the casting call. Despite the grievance of the fans, Fox’s performance was pretty decent; she nailed April’s spunky attitude from the ’80s incarnation of the cartoon, and was solid in her role, providing some warmth and emotion to proceedings, something that shone despite the immense CGI of the first instalment. However, as sequels go, she was about to be joined by another popular character, one synonymous with the TMNT franchise.
When Stephen Amell was announced as Casey Jones a year ago, a casting revealed by Cinema Blend, people had mixed reactions about the role. You can’t please everyone, we all know this, and one of the major reasons for the initial mixed reaction was Jones’ origin story — yes, the film-makers were changing up the story of the hockey stick-wielding vigilante for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Change, as we know, isn’t always good, but Stephen Amell defended this decision, and explained why his character is slightly different to the one the TMNT fans know and love. Be warned, this article contains spoilers.
Speaking to Screen Rant, Stephen Amell discussed his cleaner-cut version of Casey Jones, and confessed that they were forced to fit his origin story into the franchise.
“I think what we got to do with this Casey Jones is we got to give him a little bit of an origin story. He’s a corrections officer. That explains a lot of why he looks different than a lot of the iterations of Casey Jones that we’ve seen before. It wasn’t just, ‘We want him to look this way.’ It was an actual decision based on the fact that he’s a corrections officer who wants to be a detective in The New York City Police Department, and so he can’t have long, scraggly hair and cutoff sleeves … yet.”
The comments from the Canadian actor suggest that Casey Jones may yet develop into the long-haired, cocky version of the character that has donned the comics/movies since his introduction in the ’80s. The future of the franchise, and its sequels, obviously depend on the success of this movie, but with a rabid fan base in place, and the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at a new high, it could be a matter of if, rather than when, a third movie is pushed into development. Actor Will Arnett has already confirmed that he, and three other turtle actors, has signed on for three TMNT films.
And despite his starring role as DC vigilante Oliver Queen in Arrow over on CW, Amell is only part of a larger puzzle in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Other iconic characters make their debut alongside Casey Jones, such as Tyler Perry’s demented doctor, Baxter Stockman — his sinister comic incarnation, not the cartoon fly-hybrid character — brain-like megalomanic Krang, and Bebop and Rocksteady, two of the most popular characters in the franchise. It’s taken decades to bring the rhino and warthog henchman duo to the big screen, so the focus might kilter in their mutated direction. Let’s not forget that Shredder will be returning too, to round out the dastardly bunch that made the original ’80s cartoon so memorable. With such a stacked bunch of iconic characters, it’ll be interesting to see how the film is received by the masses.
With such a roster of established characters, TMNT regulars will be wanting to see them adapted in a way that doesn’t seem rushed. The characters have taken so long to hit the screens that there is little room for error here. Viewers will not want to see them disrespected in the process, and doing so will not go down well with the fans. Although Casey Jones was slightly altered for his latest big screen outing, you can understand why they made this change — planning for the future is always wise to save last-minute changes and errors in later installments.
As for Amell, well, early reviews of his performance have been positive. We’ll see if this leads to further outings as Casey Jones. Until then, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is released in the U.S. on June 3, and is in theatres in the U.K. now. Cowabunga!
[Image via Mirage Studios]