The upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (official subtitle TBD) will up its game by adding several more classic TMNT characters to the mix - including, different versions of villains (like Shredder) from those featured - briefly - in the 2014 TMNT reboot. Earth to Echo director Dave Green's Turtles sequel will also incorporate certain players who almost made an appearance in director Jonathan Liebesman's TMNT film, but ended up being cut during pre-production.
Specifically, we're talking about the dim-witted mutant henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady, who've been confirmed for several months as part of the TMNT2 storyline. It's not clear yet how the pair will figure into the (currently under-wraps) narrative cooked up by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec - the co-writers on Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and the TMNT reboot - but we now know Gary Anthony Williams is the one who shall bring Bebop to live-action life on the big screen.
Deadline is reporting that Williams will start off the TMNT sequel as "a punk street thug member of a ragtag gang of misfits" who believes himself to be smarter than he really is, before he undergoes his transformation to become the mutant warthog creature that is Bebop. Williams, for those unfamiliar, has appeared on such live-action television shows as Malcolm in the Middle, Boston Legal, and Raising Hope over the years, but tends to do more voice-acting - on series like Mad (where he voices Optimus Prime, among others), Sheriff Callie's Wild West, and The Boondocks (where he voices Uncle Ruckus, among other characters).
The Bebop and Rocksteady characters have long been staples of TMNT cartoon series and comic books (serving as the henchmen to villains like Krang and The Shredder), but the 2016 TMNT movie sequel will be the first time they are featured on the big screen in live-action form. Bebop shall no doubt be a motion-capture CGI creation (like the Turtles and their rat master Splinter are now), so it's fitting that a talented and versatile voice actor such as Williams has been recruited to give the character a voice to remember. Look for a similar casting choice to be reported for Rocksteady, soon.
Megan Fox and Will Arnett are reprising their TMNT roles as, respectively, reporter April O'Neil and her cameraman Vernon Fenwick in the upcoming sequel. The film will also include several new cast additions to the rebooted TMNT movie franchise (along with Williams, that is):
- Stephen Amell as hockey-maked human vigilante Casey Jones. The first image of the Arrow actor in costume has already been released.
- Actor/filmmaker Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman, the mad scientist who was (very briefly) played by K. Todd Freeman in TMNT (2014).
- Brian Tee (Mortal Kombat: Legacy) as The Shredder. It's not clear yet, though, if he's Oroku Saki, the character played by Tohoru Masamune in TMNT (2014), or someone else altogether.
- Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes) as a currently-unknown character, who was recently revealed to be a member of the NYPD by leaked TMNT2 set photos.
So, all in all, there's a lot that is different about this upcoming TMNT movie, in terms of the people involved on both sides of the camera. The 2014 movie reboot was ultimately successful in its task - re-launching the film brand for a new generation of Turtles fans (with a worldwide box office take of $485 million) - but even many of those who did enjoy Liebesman's movie would likely admit there's certainly room for improvement in the sequel. Fingers crossed, the blend of new talent and more classic TMNT mythos in this next installment winds up doing the trick.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 opens in U.S. theaters on June 3rd, 2016.
"Bebop" Artwork by SharpWriter@DeviantArt