Hollywood’s current passion for comic book adaptations also extends to manga, as evidenced by Paramount Pictures upcoming love-action take on the classic Japanese cyberpunk tale Ghost in the Shell. Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers) stars as Major, a cyborg cop living in a futuristic vision of Hong Kong, as directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman). The film also stars Juliette Binoche, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt and Rila Fukushima.
Ghost in the Shell originated as a manga in 1989, written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow, and has already been adapted into several anime features and TV series – the most notable of which is the 1995 anime film directed by Mamoru Oshii. Oshii himself paid a visit to the set of the live-action Ghost in the Shell during production, which helped to counterbalance some of the negative backlash that arise from the movie casting mostly non-Japanese actors in the principal roles. The decision to cast Johansson has been controversial, and also means that the character’s name has been changed from Major Motoko Kusanagi to simply Major.
Despite starting off on rather a sour note, Ghost in the Shell certainly has a chance to win back doubters if Paramount can cook up some great-looking trailers, and over the weekend we saw the first effort in that direction with a debut trailer featuring, in keeping with the current trailer trend, a slowed-down cover version of a classic pop song (in this case, Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.”)
Opinion is somewhat mixed, but generally Ghost in the Shell fans were impressed by the trailer’s strong visuals and the promise of some exciting action scenes, if a little concerned that Major’s backstory and character may be altered to fit a more traditional Hollywood superhero/action mold. While we wait to see more from this new take on the classic franchise, check out our gallery of 50 stills from the first Ghost in the Shell trailer.