With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, everyone’s favorite shell-sporting superheroes are back. And like the title to this sequel suggests, this time they’re out of the shadows and in the spotlight. But what will Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo do with twice as much screen time (link to news item)? Well, aside from making new friends (link to Casey Jones piece) and new enemies (link to “do right by fans piece”), they’ll be learning more about the true mean of brotherhood and acceptance.

During our set visit for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Screen Rant spoke with titular stars (link to Turtles interview) Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), and Pete Ploszek (Leonardo) as well as screenwriter Andre Nemec and producer Andrew Form, who were all adamant that this sequel centers on the chemistry and connection between these reptilian brothers. “The comedy and the chemistry of the turtles was what seemed to work the best the first time,” Ritchson offered, “And (that is) what is the emphasis this time.”

Pete Ploszek, who acts as Leonardo with a vocal assist from Johnny Knoxville, concurred, pointing out that the beloved beatbox scene from the 2014 reboot was a guide for the second film, saying, “I think it’s creating opportunities for more of that.”

“Us four as people have a really great natural chemistry that’s been there from the get-go,” Fisher said of his onscreen brothers, “We really genuinely like hanging out and busting each others’ balls, like brothers would. I think that’s the main thing we’re bring along with more of the turtles in this movie. So we got the opportunity to bring all of that energy to it.” He also noted that director David Green, “focuses a lot on the heart of how the brothers interact, showing a lot about the love there. And we get to explore that a lot more this time.”

In a separate interview, Form echoed this sentiment, adding, “It’s all about family and brothers for (Green). And he stepped right into the machine of the movie (with 90% of the same crew and cast from the first film). And he brings that which for me is you know as important as anything.”

While cast and crew were exceedingly tight-lipped on the plot of the new film, Ploszek did share, “What I’m most excited about with this movie is it’s a lot more emotionally driven amongst the brothers. You’re really going to see four brothers being brothers, and fighting and trying to make up and telling each other how they feel…You’re going to see that, and see the four of us realize that we’re pretty different from one another.”

Next Page: How The Themes of Acceptance Apply to All Characters

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Left to right: Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael

This painful realization brings drama to the family-friendly action-comedy, but also offers a sentiment screenwriter Nemec is hopeful will connect with adolescents. “The movie leans into a very strong theme of what it means to grow up, and leaning into the notion of the teenager part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and that time of life where you don’t really know how you feel.” He told us in his own interview. “I think every kid goes through that moment in time where they sort of think they understand their purpose and their place, and who their friends are and aren’t, and what life is going to be. But ultimately everybody has to go through that blossoming part of life. I think this movie leans into that theme on a lot of levels, and it leans into the strength of family. Which is sort of a fundamental theme of the Turtles whatever incarnation of turtles has ever existed, it’s always been thematically about family. This one does that, but it explores that other realm as well.”

Form expanded on this, saying, “The movie is about acceptance about being accepted. And the Turtles’ journey is about that, and what it’s like if you feel different at all. Teenagers today, most go through a phase where you feel different, or maybe you’re not accepted by everyone. And I think the Turtles also go through that in this movie, and come out on the other side and realize that who you are is okay, and that we are all special in our own way. And they have an amazing arc in this movie, they really do. The writers came up with a great story to tell for the turtles. And it really is about those four brothers with this movie.”

But the Turtles aren’t the only ones that need to learn acceptance. Their exploits in the sequel catch the attention of the NYPD. “It’s a very, very small number of people that see them,” Form informed us. “But when people do see them, they are definitely not accepting of them, at first.”

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Left to right: Casey Jones and April O’Neil

One of these initially reluctant allies is police chief Rebecca Vincent, played by lauded leading lady Laura Linney. She explained her relationship with the Turtles, thusly, “I have these people coming to me telling me about turtles which seems a little far-fetched. And it takes me a while to grasp the situation, to understand what these creatures are, to value their assistance and what they have to offer. And then I become an ally.”

“Every character in the movie goes through the same theme,” Form admitted. “Truthfully, Casey (Stephen Amell), April (Megan Fox), Fern (Will Arnett), and The turtles, all follow that arc (of acceptance). And the writers did a great job with that. By the end of the movie, I think everyone who sees the movie will realize, ‘Wow, they’re all on the same path.’ And no one realizes it and it comes together really well at the end.”

Fisher enthused, “Back to that heart thing, you get to see a lot more of that and explore a lot more of that, for all the turtles. That’s the one thing I’m pretty excited about.”

More Set Visit Details: How TMNT 2 Will Do Right By the Fans

“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS” is the sequel to the 2014 hit film “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.” The film is based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlescharacters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman and is directed by David Green (“EARTH TO ECHO”). Michael Bay (the “TRANSFORMERS franchise) returns to produce alongside his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (“ TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES”), with Galen Walker and Scott Mednick (“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES”) also producing.

Also returning for the sequel is Megan Fox (“TRANSFORMERS”) as April O’Neil, Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) as Vernon Fenwick and the Turtles: Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Pete Ploszek at Leonardo, and Jeremy Howard as Donatello. Rounding out the cast is Stephen Amell (“Arrow,”) as Casey Jones, Tyler Perry (“GONE GIRL”, the “MADEA” franchise) as Baxter Stockman, Academy Award nominated actress Laura Linney (“The Big C”, “LOVE ACTUALLY”) as Chief Rebecca Vincent, Brian Tee (“JURASSIC WORLD”) as Shredder, WWE World Heavy Weight Champion Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly as Rocksteady and Gary Anthony Williams (“THE INTERNSHIP”) as Bebop.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows opens June 3rd, 2016.