We finally have the official first look at Scarlett Johansson in the highly-anticipated upcoming film Ghost in the Shell, based on the iconic manga series by Masamune Shirow.
The success of the manga gave rise to several animated films (including Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 movie), multiple anime TV series, and video games.
The live action film is reportedly based on the original manga, rather than the adaptations that followed.
In the first photo of Johansson in character, fans get to see a profile of the actress in a black wig, similar to the anime protagonist in the series.
Paramount and Dreamworks were the first to released the shot of the 31-year-old actress, with the following tweet:
— Paramount Pictures (@ParamountPics) April 14, 2016
Ghost in the Shell is currently shooting in New Zealand.
Here’s a brief description of the movie and Johansson’s role in it.
Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi property, “GHOST IN THE SHELL” follows the Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.
In the anime her character is described as being strong-willed, physically powerful, and highly intellectual, she is also well known for her skills in deduction and hacking.
Ghost in the Shell teams Scarlett Johansson back up with the other lead in action film Lucy, co-star Pilou Asbaek. That film was a success grossing $463 million worldwide in 2014.
The casting of Johansson’s in the film has caused some controversy with accusations of Hollywood “whitewashing”once again.
In fact, despite the setting and the provenance of the story, most of the roles in Dreamworks’ adaptation were given to non-Asian actors.
Directed by Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman”), “Ghost in the Shell” also stars Beat Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki, Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet, Michael Pitt as Kuze, Pilou Asbæk as Batou, and Kaori Momoi.
The members of Section 9 are played by Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara and Tuwanda Manyimo.
Leading the commentary against Johansson’s casting is Asian actor Ming Na-Wen, the voice of Disney’s Mulan who can currently be seen on Marvel television series Agents of SHIELD.
Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I'm a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role.😒 https://t.co/VS6r6iish9
— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) April 14, 2016
A Care2 petition entitled “DreamWorks: Stop whitewashing Asian characters” has garnered more than 65,000 signatures to date.
The petition reads:
“Fans of the iconic 1995 animated Japanese sci-fi film Ghost in the Shell have been anticipating a live-action remake for years — but now, instead of casting an Asian actress, Dreamworks has selected Scarlett Johansson for the lead role! The film revolves around Major Motoko Kusanagi, a member of a futuristic security force tasked with tracking a mysterious hacker”.
Only time will tell if the fans are going to be able to forget the casting controversy or if they will sit this one out.
“Ghost In The Shell” will be released in theaters on March 31, 2017.
In the meantime, you can watch Scarlett Johansson next on as the Soviet agent and superhero Black Widow in the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War.”
And in case you aren’t familiar with the anime, below is a trailer for one of the anime films.