The first look at Scarlett Johansson’s lead character in the live-action adaptation of the anime science-fiction classic Ghost in the Shell has been released. Scarlett is portraying Japanese cyborg police officer Motoko Kusanagi, and she looks…
Okay, why the hell are they doing this? Why wouldn’t they just export the story from Japan to America and change the character’s name to, I don’t know, Molly Kusinich or something? Hell, it’s the future, her name could just be Mo K and everyone would run with that. This is done all the time with remakes and new adaptations. You take the story from country A and transport it to country B because you want to sell it primarily to country B, which means you need a lead actor who’s a draw in country B. That’s sound business, and it happens in all directions, whether the remake is an international import or a Hollywood export. This, however, just feels inexplicably wrongheaded and stupid. When they remade Seven Samurai in the states as The Magnificent Seven they didn’t cast Yul Brynner as Japanese gunslinger Kambei Shimada. And 1960’s Hollywood loved casting Yul Brynner as Japanese, Native American, Indian, Egyptian, or Mexican.
This isn’t even “just” whitewashing precisely; this black dude is playing a character named Ambassador Kiyoshi. If you Google search Ambassador Kiyoshi you find information on an actual Japanese Ambassador named Kiyoshi, but nothing on a fictional character from Ghost in the Shell. They are coming up with new Japanese characters to be played by non-Japanese people. It’s absurd.
That aside, Scarlett looks okay in this first shot.
Ghost in the Shell is scheduled for release in 2017. The movie is being helmed by Rupert Sanders, whose only other directorial credit is Snow White and The Huntsman, and he wasn’t even invited back for the sequel / prequel of that feat of mediocrity, so fans should probably keep their expectations low.