With his hockey mask and blatant lack of sportsmanship, Casey Jones is one of the most recognizable and popular characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. As Arrow star Stephen Amell is the latest actor to bring Casey Jones to life in the new TMNT movie, we figured it was only fitting to give you the rundown of facts and trivia you should have in the back of your mind before you sit down to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Here are 12 Things You Need To Know About Casey Jones
12. He uses sports equipment and home-made devices as weapons
This one should be obvious by looking at him, but there’s a surprising amount of ingenuity and originality in his approach to violence. Casey’s signature weapons are dual baseball bats, a hockey stick and golf clubs, all kept conveniently in a golf bag carried over his shoulder. However, over the years he’s been known to wield a wide variety of unusual weapons like croquet mallets and cricket bats as well as using projectile weapons like hockey pucks and baseballs. The most recent Nickelodeon television series has a teenage Casey using several improvised devices as well, including a taser made from a potato masher and a lock tied to a handkerchief, something which he calls “The Padlock of Doom”.
Jones is a skilled fighter and his unconventional style and unusual weaponry makes him a tough and unpredictable opponent. His fondness for using sports equipment was initially to emphasise he was an ordinary person who took to vigilantism with whatever was lying around, but later incarnations have expanded on this, with the first movie, 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, making him a former professional ice hockey player who got injured and embarked on a life of crimefighting soon after.
11. He was created as a parody of vigilantes in comics
Much like the Turtles themselves, Casey Jones started life as a parody, with Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird making fun of how dark and mature contemporary comic titles like Batman and especially Daredevil had become. The character of Casey Jones was created to embody all the traits that were being celebrated in Frank Miller’s work in the mid ’80s and has more than a few things in common with The Punisher.
Like Bruce, Matt and Frank, Casey was an intimidating vigilante who took the law into his own hands. He was an answer to the rise of morally ambiguous heroes in comics and had everything that this new breed of popular anti-hero had, including a scary enthusiasm for beating people up, cranked to the absolute maximum. By supercharging these elements, Eastman and Laird created an instantly memorable lunatic, fuelled by complete hatred of crime and with a twisted set of morals.
10. He first appeared in a Raphael solo spin-off comic
Raphael has always been the tearaway of the group. He’s a hothead, often coming to blows with the other Turtles, especially Leonardo. One such instance occurred in a special solo Raphael comic in the story Me, Myself and I where Raph sees red when sparring with Michelangelo and almost seriously injures him in his rage. He’s kicked out of the sewer to cool off and he angrily roams the rooftops.
Raph stumbles across two muggers and intervenes. Unbeknownst to him, Casey Jones is watching nearby and is shocked when Raphael allows them to run off. Jones takes matters into his own hands and swoops into action, letting the fleeing thugs feel the wrath of his bats. Realizing that Jones isn’t going to let up with his brutal attacks, Raphael stops him and the pair square off against each other. They end up fighting multiple times across the city, but soon develop a grudging respect for each other. By the end of the issue, Raph and Casey decide to put their differences aside and team up to stop another mugging attempt.
9. He originally became a vigilante because of violent television shows
When it came to fleshing out and expanding the Turtles comic, Kevin Eastman had an idea of incorporating co-creator Peter Laird’s love of bad cop shows on TV. Eastman said “You have…all these characters where something tragic happened in their past that helped them choose the path to go out and fight crime on their own, and I thought it was really funny if we had a character who was inspired to do the same, but just from watching too much bad TV, like “TJ Hooker” and “A-Team” and all that stuff.”
Whilst later issues of the comic would build on Casey Jones’ backstory, which involved his father being murdered by the Purple Dragon gang and Casey himself taking a massive beating, the idea of a character gaining their morality from violent cop shows survived, with Jones’ first appearance in the comic being a panel of him, sitting in his messy apartment watching a Dirty Harry inspired cop show on television. When the show ends, Jones grabs his hockey mask and weapons and heads out the door, remarking that the TV guys have the right idea and directly quotes the show, saying that only he can rid his city of the “vile scum” that inhabits it.
8. He has homicidal tendencies
The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic was intentionally grim and violent, with the Turtles showing no real hesitation in slicing and dicing their opponents. So when we say that Casey Jones’s character was introduced to take things too far by Turtle standards, it’s really saying something.
Casey Jones was portrayed as a lunatic who has a black and white morality when it comes to crime. He would dole out brutal beatings on criminals big and small, often going way overboard with it and not stopping until he was sure the criminals weren’t getting back up. He slowly changes over the course of the comics and mellows after he meets the Turtles and sees their approach to heroism. One of the more memorable Mirage comic stories is about Casey accidentally killing a teenage mugger. The incident rocks him to his core and he starts drinking heavily in a attempt to cope. As the adaptations got more kid-friendly, these aspects of Jones’ character were dropped entirely in favor of more toy-selling and parent-pleasing traits.
7. His real name is Arnold Bernid Jones
Casey Jones is a secretive sort of guy, wearing his signature hockey mask to obscure his identity as well as to protect his face. This was even referenced in the 1987 cartoon show where Casey Jones is never seen without his mask, even when going undercover, dressed in a business suit.
In one issue of the Mirage comic, Jones returns to New York City after some time away and suffering a personal loss. There, he has a chance meeting with April O’Neil, who happens to be buying an apartment complex owned by Casey’s mother. Due to the interactions between April and Mrs. Jones, we learn that Casey is a nickname and that his full name is Arnold Bernid Jones. He understandably went with a more impressive moniker as the names “Arnold” and“Bernid” don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men.
6. He’s had an on and off again relationship with April O’Neil
When they first met, Casey and April didn’t get along. However, when April’s home is attacked by Shredder and the Foot, Jones, April, Splinter and the four Turtles leave New York and hide out in a dilapidated Massachusetts farmhouse once owned by Casey’s grandmother. As our heroes recuperate and train, the remote location and cramped living space force the usually bickering pair together and they start to grow closer.
They date for a while, but there are several stresses and strains put on the relationship. April leaves the farmhouse and Casey goes after her. However, he ends up sidetracked when he meets a pregnant women named Gabrielle. Gabrielle was a Colorado waitress about to become a single mother and Casey took pity on her. They fall in love and end up married. Things soon go tragically wrong as Gabrielle dies during childbirth and leaves Casey with an adopted daughter to care for. He names her Shadow and he moves back to NYC with her to stay with his mother. When April O’Neil comes knocking to buy the place, the two reconnect and rekindle their romance. After dating for a while, they decide to marry and Shadow gains a stepmother.
5. Many fans consider Elias Koteas to be the definitive Casey Jones
There have been many versions of Casey Jones over the years, but the one that seems to have stuck with people the most is Elias Koteas’ take on the character in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie.
It’s easy to see why. He looks cool, fights like a beast and Koteas manages to make the bat-wielding lunatic likable to boot. One of the best scenes in the movie is inspired by his first comic appearance when he fights with an angry Raphael. It’s mostly faithful to the comic, with the only real change being that instead of Jones cheap-shotting Raph with a golf club like he does in the comics, he hits him upside the head with a cricket bat. Ouch. Koteas reprised the role in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III as well, as playing Jones ancestor Whit, but it’s best we don’t talk about that film any further.
4. There’s an indie fan film about him and his origins
Unlike many fans of Casey Jones, young filmmaker Polaris Banks and his brother Hilarion decided to do something about their deep love of the character and made a short feature film about him in 2011. Polaris has gone on record as saying that he felt he had to make the movie he wanted to see as “nobody else would”. It was originally intended to be a five minute teaser, but the ambition and budget soon ballooned and it became a 35 minute short film instead.
Casey Jones aka Casey Jones: The Movie tells a simplified version of Jones’ origins, showing him training to become a vigilante and giving us an adaptation of the Me, Myself and I storyline, with Michelangelo replacing Raphael as the turtle that stops Casey from murdering some muggers. The film got some decent press attention and website coverage as well as garnering a lot of positive reviews and reactions from people.
3. His catchphrase doesn’t mean anything
Starting with the Mirage comics, but making its way into the later television series, Casey Jones’ battle cry of “Goongala!” has been the source of much debate over the years. Nobody seems to know what it means outside of it being a crazy and unnerving thing to shout before attacking someone.
The 2003 TMNT series expanded on this in the season three episode The Lesson, where a young Michelangelo had met a young Casey Jones years before Jones and the Turtles became allies. Mikey had tried to teach Casey the Japanese battle cry of “gorogoro-sama” meaning “Mr. Thunder”. Casey has trouble getting his mouth round the awkward syllables and butchers it, with the result being the garbled “goongala”.
2. Chris Evans voiced Casey Jones in the 2007 CGI movie
The idea for a computer generated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film had been mooted for a long time since the last Turtles film, Teenage Mutant Turtles III, hadn’t performed particularly well at the box office and earned harsh reviews. At one point, it was going to be directed by Hong Kong action director John Woo, but it remained in development hell for years, with Woo leaving the project and giving us another candidate for the “Awesome Things That Cruelly Never Happened” list.
Eventually, TMNT was released in 2007, acting as a semi-sequel to the previous films and catching up with the Turtles after they’ve disbanded. The voice cast included Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Laurence Fishburne. Casey Jones made an appearance as April’s boyfriend and was voiced by a pre-Captain America superstardom Chris Evans.
1. Michael Bay personally pushed for the character to be included in Out of the Shadows
Although this new series of TMNT movies are commonly thought of as Michael Bay productions, sharing many similarities with Bay’s Transformers films, Bay is one of several producers and whilst he still calls some of the shots, the directing duties for the 2014 reboot fell to Battle: Los Angeles director Jonathan Liebesman, with Out of the Shadows helmed by Earth to Echo director Dave Green.
When it came time to script the sequel, Bay put on his producer hat and insisted that the character of Casey Jones must be included. As the original script didn’t contain the character, the creative team went back to try and figure out how best to fit Jones into the planned narrative that already involved characters like Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady and Baxter Stockman. It’s not known why Michael Bay was so adamant that the character should be included, but Fuller praises Bay’s “golden gut” instinct and says he was right to do it, especially as they “got the perfect guy to play the role” in the form of Stephen Amell.
What else should fan’s know about their favorite masked vigilante? Let us know in the comments!