Alan Ritchson has been tapped to play Raphael in the Michael Bay-produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Unlike the original 1990 film, which saw its actors bulked up in turtle suits, the Jonathan Liebesman-directed reboot will instead use performance capture similar to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings franchise or the Na’vi in James Cameron’s Avatar.
Ritchson is the first turtle to be cast, but the film has already cast its female human lead. Megan Fox will play April O’Neil, who was played by Judith Hoag in the 1990 film. In the original film and the animated series, O’Neil was a television reporter. Whether or not April will be keeping that job title remains to be seen.
Fox’s casting probably came as a surprise to many given her messy exit from the Transformers franchise. Fox compared Bay’s directing style to Hitler and said he was a nightmare to work for. But the two have apparently made up, with Bay writing on his blog after Fox was cast, “TMNT: we are bringing Megan Fox back into the family!”
Ninja Turtles is certainly a departure from its source material. According to the film’s synopsis, aliens have invaded Earth, inadvertently spawning the four mutated reptiles who must now save the planet from the invaders. Originally, the turtles were mutated by radioactive “ooze” that spilled into a sewer and are led by a mutated rat named Splinter. Together, they battle the Foot Clan, a ninjutsu clan led by Shredder. Shredder has been the main antagonist in every incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thus far, but the upcoming film appears to be moving away from that, as well.
Before he becomes a “hero on the half shell,” Alan Ritchson will be traveling to the post-apocalyptic world of Panem for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Ritchson will play Gloss, a dagger-wielding tribute from District One.
Ninja Turtles is scheduled to be released June 6, 2014.