Platinum Dunes' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie reboot has come a ways, since the early script draft - featuring such dubious elements as a re-imagined Shredder (now, Colonel Schrader) and the infamous alien origin story for the Turtles - leaked online and caused the people behind the project to spend the subsequent months back-peddling like mad, lest they sink deeper into the quagmire of a discontented fanbase.
Since then, everyone from producer Michael Bay (currently directing Transformers: Age of Extinction) to cast members Alan Ritchson (Raphael) and William Fichtner (Eric Sachs, a.k.a. the new Shredder) have offered assurances to fans that the old script has been tossed; and, more importantly, that the TMNT live-action movie reboot will exceed any low expectations they might have. Unfortunately for them, today's story on the subject probably won't help with their cause.
Geek Tyrant (via Comic Book Movie) is reporting a source close to the project has informed the site that Casey Jones - the Turtles' frequent alley and a masked vigilante in his own right - will not make an appearance in the TMNT reboot, despite the character being present in the aforementioned early script draft. Instead, April O'Neal's (Megan Fox) cameraman in the film, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), will get his screen time beefed up, so that he may fill the spot traditionally occupied by Casey in the Turtles' entourage.
This make sense, given that we've yet to hear about an actor having been cast as the Turtles' hockey mask-wearing friend in the reboot. Not to mention, Arnett has said that his version of the Fenwick character will be an ally to April and Co (a la Casey). As opposed to, an amoral stooge who often attempts to take the credit for April's hard work, as featured in a number of previously-released TMNT comic books and cartoon series.
Casey - played by Elias Koteas in the 1990 live-action TMNT movie (and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III) and voiced by Chris Evans in the computer-animated TMNT - has often served as the Han Solo of the cinematic Turtles universe, bringing more self-awareness to the proceedings while also being a lovable trouble-maker in his own right. Arnett as Fenwick, however, sounds like over the top comic relief, similar to Sam's (Shia LaBeouf) roomie Leo (Ramon Rodriguez) in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
In fact, with Bay producing and Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) directing, chances are the TMNT reboot won't stray so far from the formula behind the Transformers movie series (generally speaking). The combination of questionable casting decisions and character exclusions and/or re-imaginings - with modern-day action cinema style and martial arts choreography - gives all the more reason to think the film will be a flashy, but hollow experience, like other Platinum Dunes features.
TMNT's enduring popularity (as a brand name) should help to ensure that this attempt to emulate Transformers' box office success pans out alright; at the least, better than when Disney attempted to replicate its Pirates of the Caribbean hit with The Lone Ranger (to use a recent example). But will it play well enough with fans to pave the way for additional installments, is the bigger question. (After all, franchise building is the name of the game nowadays.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens in theaters on August 8th, 2014.