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Old 10-28-2019, 05:40 PM   #1
Monte Williams
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Casey Jones and Travis Bickle

I just revisited Taxi Driver for the first time in twenty years or so. It was only my second time seeing the movie.

Now, I don't expect you layfolk to relate to this, but because I am a sophisticated, literary type, Taxi Driver immediately made me think of Casey Jones.

Specifically, owing to the particular brand of my own TMNT nostalgia, I was reminded of Elias Koteas as Casey Jones in the 1990 Golden Harvest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.



Obviously, Koteas was playing a more cartoony vigilante than DeNiro's chilling portrayal of Travis Bickle, but for all the silliness of the dialogue in the 1990 TMNT movie, I think one could make the case that Koteas was inspired at least in part by DeNiro's work from 1976.

Whatever the case, Taxi Driver reminded me that, while it's easy to be charmed by Casey Jones (at least the 1990 live-action version), in real life he'd probably be a lot like Travis Bickle.

And so, I thought I'd open it up to discussion:

What Are Your Thoughts About Casey Jones?


Is he a hero, or a nut job? A necessity, or an idiot?

What's your favorite take on the character? Your least favorite?

Would you like to see a TMNT tale take the Casey Jones premise to its logical conclusion and explore the ugly underbelly of vigilantism? (Hell, maybe the Mirage comics do; I barely remember Casey's appearances in them).

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on Taxi Driver, too!

For my part, as a wee lad I was amused by the goofy Casey Jones in the '80s cartoon, but I think there were limits to the extent to which I even understood that it was a (ham-fisted) parody of Clint Eastwood's vigilante characters. Elias Koteas remains my favorite Casey Jones by far, and indeed his might be the only take I actually favor.

My least favorite would be the teenage version from the otherwise pretty awesome Nickelodeon 2012 series, if the clumsy and bland and comically misguided Stephen Amell take from Out of the Shadows didn't exist.
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Old 10-28-2019, 07:22 PM   #2
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It makes sense as I think Eastman and Laird were inspired by Travis Bickle during the creation of the character. Probably Koteas himself used De Niro's portrayal of Travis as a reference for his version of Casey.
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Old 10-28-2019, 10:04 PM   #3
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Today's Travis Bickle would be a cuck of the highest order. Or perhaps he'd be an incel. It's hard to say which of the two "male stereotypes" he'd be pigeon holed into. Hard to argue that the way he was read by audiences of the 70's would be equal to that of today.

I don't get Casey at all. I mean, he feels like a buffed Eastman, whose whole schtick was a send up of the vigilante code, but also, not really. Kind of a kick ass, pre kick-ass. As much as they want us to sympathize with him, I just don't. The poor me I had a ****** father angle isn't unique, or particularly compelling anymore. I also don't know that his dick swinging persona would fly today.

It's hard to look at these two guys and have good thoughts. Then again, Joker is popular as hell.
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Old 10-29-2019, 09:42 AM   #4
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This was intentional. And it was discussed about Elias as being both a negative and a positive by the filmmakers.
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Old 10-29-2019, 10:51 AM   #5
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Archie

Why wasn't he in the Archie Comics? (unless you take the Ralston Purina Comics as Archie canon)
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Old 10-29-2019, 10:57 AM   #6
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Why wasn't he in the Archie Comics? (unless you take the Ralston Purina Comics as Archie canon)
Wild guess: because Casey wasn't a significant part of the cartoon the Archie series splintered off of.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:22 PM   #7
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Wild guess: because Casey wasn't a significant part of the cartoon the Archie series splintered off of.
Sometimes I like to imagine if the Archie series might have had various different story arcs if the series had continued to adapt a few more episode plots before branching out into its own original content courtesy of Steve Murphy. Granted, Murphy jumped in to save the book's creative void, but imagine it had lingered on a few months prior to his involvement lazily taking the episode scripts and maybe trying to do one episode an issue rather than splitting each episode into two issues.

Would Baxter Stockman as a fly mutant become something Murphy could have incorporated into the original ongoing stories? Would the Punk Frogs have been recurring characters, maybe even assisted the Mutanimals? Would Irma and the Channel Six News staff have been so integrated into the status quo that Murphy might not have been so quick to retcon them away... April was working at the WRTL station under boss "Murdoch Maxwell" when she was finally fired for her unexplained absences and became freelance.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:25 PM   #8
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Sometimes I like to imagine if the Archie series might have had various different story arcs if the series had continued to adapt a few more episode plots before branching out into its own original content courtesy of Steve Murphy. Granted, Murphy jumped in to save the book's creative void, but imagine it had lingered on a few months prior to his involvement lazily taking the episode scripts and maybe trying to do one episode an issue rather than splitting each episode into two issues.

Would Baxter Stockman as a fly mutant become something Murphy could have incorporated into the original ongoing stories? Would the Punk Frogs have been recurring characters, maybe even assisted the Mutanimals? Would Irma and the Channel Six News staff have been so integrated into the status quo that Murphy might not have been so quick to retcon them away... April was working at the WRTL station under boss "Murdoch Maxwell" when she was finally fired for her unexplained absences and became freelance.
It's entirely possible. Even the opening adaptation story arc ended up paying off in later story arcs in TMNTA. None of that stuff ever really become a driving force, though. Even stuff like Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang was rather quickly discarded.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:27 PM   #9
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It's entirely possible. Even the opening adaptation story arc ended up paying off in later story arcs in TMNTA. None of that stuff ever really become a driving force, though.
Yeah, it really was a stroke of genius for Murphy to dust off the Eye of Sarnoth/Sarnath plot thread and use it to expand the universe years after it was introduced and forgotten in issues 3-4. Very Marvel-esque way of doing things. Although I think if all the "Eye of Sarnoth" episodes had received a comic adaptation, it might have been harder for him to do that since the cartoon ended up destroying the Eye without any attempt to tell a deeper story about its origins.
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Old 10-29-2019, 04:44 PM   #10
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I guess the big difference between the two characters would be that Casey is a lot more... Self-aware? It feels kinda weird to compare Casey to another character and have him come out as the more intelligent one, but that's my hot take on this.

Travis has trouble trying to figure out proper target, as he both wanted to assassinate a politician and some pimps. The only reason he went for the pimps is because he chickened out when the politician's body guards noticed him. He also fails to recognise his personal stake in both instances, not to mention that it was his own social ineptitude that caused the problem he's trying to fix, but can't come up with anything other than half-baked excuses for his actions.

Casey on the other hand, while he's not smart or level headed, at least seems to understand why he's doing what he's doing.
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Old 10-29-2019, 05:04 PM   #11
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Nice analysis, neatoman. One could take it further and suggest that Bickle is mentally ill, whereas Jones is merely misguided.
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Old 10-29-2019, 05:57 PM   #12
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Today's Travis Bickle would be a cuck of the highest order. Or perhaps he'd be an incel. It's hard to say which of the two "male stereotypes" he'd be pigeon holed into. Hard to argue that the way he was read by audiences of the 70's would be equal to that of today.

I don't get Casey at all. I mean, he feels like a buffed Eastman, whose whole schtick was a send up of the vigilante code, but also, not really. Kind of a kick ass, pre kick-ass. As much as they want us to sympathize with him, I just don't. The poor me I had a ****** father angle isn't unique, or particularly compelling anymore. I also don't know that his dick swinging persona would fly today.

It's hard to look at these two guys and have good thoughts. Then again, Joker is popular as hell.
LOL I've never heard someone badmouth Casey so much on this forum. I feel like no one insults Casey. But you're right, he can be written really terribly. The only writing I'm kind of okay with is Mirage and Image; him in the 1990 movie and 2012 cartoon was kind of a creep and in the 2003 series he was way too much of an idiot.
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Old 10-29-2019, 05:59 PM   #13
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Nice analysis, neatoman. One could take it further and suggest that Bickle is mentally ill, whereas Jones is merely misguided.
Well Casey has major addiction and anger issues, which is pretty closely related to mental illness.
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:26 PM   #14
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Well Casey has major addiction and anger issues, which is pretty closely related to mental illness.
I'm thinking of the 1990 live-action Casey, who certainly has anger issues, but not any addictions.

Which media is that in; the comics?
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:53 PM   #15
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LOL I've never heard someone badmouth Casey so much on this forum. I feel like no one insults Casey. But you're right, he can be written really terribly. The only writing I'm kind of okay with is Mirage and Image; him in the 1990 movie and 2012 cartoon was kind of a creep and in the 2003 series he was way too much of an idiot.
You can be a rough around the edges guy, and masculine, without being a loudmouthed prick. Casey doesn't need to be obnoxious. He could be quiet and contemplative.

I mean Spider-man is known for being quippy, but there's corny quippy, and lovable quippy, and Holland is so endearing, the jokes land even for non fans. Likeability was the only thing that saved Elias from being taken the wrong way, so the douche comes off as misunderstood but well meaning, instead of aggressive and obnoxious. Captain Marvel had the inverse happen, Larson is about as endearing as food poisoning.
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Old 10-31-2019, 12:10 AM   #16
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I've seen interviews that call him Canada's DeNiro...so there's that.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:18 PM   #17
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I've seen interviews that call him Canada's DeNiro...so there's that.
I want to say the press material for TMNT mentions that he's known as the next generation's DeNiro.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:40 PM   #18
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I wonder if Travis Bickle is claustrophobic.

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2003 series he was way too much of an idiot.
2003 Casey's voice got on my nerves. It didn't sound genuine and the dialogue delivery I remember sounded a bit off.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:12 PM   #19
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2003 Casey's voice got on my nerves. It didn't sound genuine and the dialogue delivery I remember sounded a bit off.
I find the voice acting in the 2003 series to be uniformly awful. It is very stilted and awkward. Makes it hard for me to get through a single episode.
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:24 AM   #20
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I find the voice acting in the 2003 series to be uniformly awful. It is very stilted and awkward. Makes it hard for me to get through a single episode.
For some characters it's not too bad. I can put up with Leo and Raph and April. But yeah I agree it can be a bit off putting,as you say stilted.
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