Scarlett Johansson’s Casting in the Ghost in the Shell Live Action Movie Isn’t All Bad News

Scarlett Johansson Ghost in the Shell Live Acton Movie Featured Image Credit: Comicbook.com

If you’re a fan of the popular anime/manga series Ghost in the Shell, then you’ve probably already heard that the talented and beautiful Scarlett Johansson will be cast as Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming live action Ghost in the Shell movie. You may have also heard that people are upset about the selection of a Caucasian actress being chosen to play the role of an Asian character.

Casting an American actress for the lead role begs many questions. Will the setting of the film still be focused on Japan, or will it be adapted to America for an American audience?  Furthermore, in the anime  Americans are imperialist outsiders meddling in Japanese affairs.  Will this too remain or will America be cast in a better light despite the validity of the original anime portrayal?  If America is the focus, will Japan then be the outsiders?  Or will the global dynamic be entirely rewritten, perhaps with something more akin to current events such as Russia or a united Islamic/Arab State somehow involved?

While the casting undeniably raises many questions, we’re not here to further the Hollywood whitewashing/race war debate. Instead, we’d rather take a moment to appreciate the positive aspects of this news.  Scarlett Johansson is an A-list celebrity with previous experience appealing to this kind of audience and with versatile acting capable of playing serious as well as comedic roles. She has starred in the Avengers, the Avengers Age of Ultron, Captain America, Captain America Winter Soldier, and Iron Man 2 playing the role of Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow a super spy/assassin.

In addition to her excellence Scarlett’s casting may be a sign of a high budget and high quality film being made. Perhaps this will be the best live action movie based on an anime to date.  The reality in America is big names on a movie sell the movie. This is especially true with moviegoers who may not be fans of the comics/cartoons/manga/anime but have the potential to become fans of the films.  A perfect example are the Avengers movies, with which America has fallen in love. The build up to the first Avengers movie was marked by casting Robert Downie Jr. for Ironman, Chris Evans for Captain America, cameos by Hugh Jackman, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Tom Hiddleton as Loki, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk.

Plus, there’s the fact that they’re finally making a Ghost in the Shell live action movie. If you’ve never seen the show or read the manga for Ghost in the Shell, we highly recommend giving one or both of them a chance. If you’ve never heard of it, Ghost in the Shell is a crime, mystery, drama reminiscent of Law and Order/CSI set in a post World War III world. The show takes place in a future where a person’s consciousness can be downloaded onto a microchip, allowing for immortality.  Not only that but in Ghost in the Shell’s world, people no longer require their bodies, existing as robots/cyborgs with human consciousness. Through the drama of these transhuman characters, Ghost in the Shell tackles subjects from cybercrime, terrorism, and surveillance to income inequality, ethics, artificial intelligence, and singularity of consciousness.  The series is beautiful, moving, exciting, action packed, mysterious, and intellectually and morally challenging.

We’re pretty excited about the potential of this movie. However, as we’ve mentioned before, live action films in general have a tremendous burden of overcoming the expectations set by fans of the original anime/manga series. For us to consider the film a success, it needs to pay homage to the anime, remain consistent with the established storyline, cast characters well with talented actors/actresses (which is already controversial), and have great special effects. But to date, it is difficult to think of any movie that has exhibited any notable success with an anime based film.  

Even still, we’re optimistic that Ghost in the Shell will be the one. Let’s all pray for Ghost in the Shell to be the greatest anime based live action film ever made to date! What do you think of Scarlett Johansson being cast as Motoko Kusanagi?  Do you think this will be a big budget film?  Do you think it will be a flop despite the money and big name star actress?  What do you hope they include from the anime? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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