Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is in theaters this week, with the focus being on how the sequel, directed by Dave Green’s (Earth to Echo), will outdo the TMNT reboot released in 2014. Helmed by Jonathan Liebesman, the 2014 film earned a solid $493 million at the box office, with the follow-up promising to be much bigger and better than the action-adventure we saw Leo, Donny, Raph, and Mikey embark on previously.
Impressively, it only took Paramount Pictures two years to make a sequel - one which sees the return of April O'Neil (Megan Fox) and Vernon (Will Arnett), and franchise newcomer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) alongside our heroes in a half-shell. In the sequel, they take on Shredder and his goons Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), alien warlord Krang (Brad Garrett), and scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry).
During our interview with producer Brad Fuller, he reveals that it was executive producer Michael Bay that made the human vigilante Casey Jones materialize in the sequel:
"There was a point in this story when we didn’t have Casey Jones in it because we just felt like we just couldn’t fit in another character. That became a big battle towards the end of prep. It was really Bay who called me [and] said, “Guys, Casey Jones is in this movie. You figure out how to make that story work.” And we had to go back to work on the story in order to fit him in."
So it seems like Jones' inclusion was more of an order on Bay's part, but for reasons unknown. Presumably the addition of the hockey mask-wearing crime fighter was deemed to strengthen the production, but Bay may also have had a personal admiration for the comic book character (previously portrayed by Elias Koteas in live-action film form).
Going on what Fuller tells us, it sounds like Casey Jones has a big impact on the movie's story, and that Bay was in fact spot on about the decision to use the character.
"He’s got a golden gut. Bay’s got a golden gut and he would just call me and tell me, “My gut is telling me that you guys need to figure out Casey Jones in this movie.” He doesn’t go into the reason that he feels that way… And, by the way, he was absolutely right. And we got the perfect guy to play the role. I mean Amell is fantastic at it. Now when I see the movie, I’m ashamed that there was ever any notion that Casey Jones wasn’t going to be in the movie. Do you know what I’m saying? He’s such an integral part of the movie. You’ll see. I mean he’s there the whole way through. And he’s great at it. And Amell did so many of the stunts and the things that we needed him to do. It heightens everything."
Trailer footage of Amell's Casey Jones is arguably one of the biggest reasons for fans to get excited over this sequel. Anyone who recalls the original TMNT movie in 1990 will have fond memories of Koetas as the wise-cracking, fist-fighting renegade, which will ideally see the new version as a faithful yet fresh update. Combine this with the inclusion of Krang, an anticipated character made up completely from CGI, it simply adds to the huge mix of new faces and epic action sequences that'll hopefully make for a superior Turtles sequel.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows hits U.S. theaters on June 3rd, 2016.