Paramount Pictures is now on the verge of releasing its live-action film adaptation of the popular manga/anime series Ghost in the Shell created by Masamune Shirow. Amidst of a slough of controversy over casting Scarlett Johansson as the lead character, Major, the studio continues on the promotion trail to the film’s release date at the end of this March.
Ghost in the Shell is definitely not Johansson’s first foray into genre filmmaking, with her staple role as Black Widow across the Marvel Cinematic Universe and her leading roles in films like Lucy having helped to establish her as a star in the sci-fi movie world. She is joined here by Rila Fukushima, another popular actor when it comes to comic book adaptations (having appeared in The Wolverine and Arrow). The rest of the cast and crew also carry interesting genre pedigrees, including director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Johansson’s costars; Beat Takeshi Kitano (Battle Royale), Juliette Binoche (Chocolat), and Michael Pitt (Hannibal).
Paramount has now released two more banners in anticipation of Ghost in the Shell, both prominently featuring Johansson as Major in poses and designs that recall some of the stark imagery from the original cyberpunk series (see the gallery below). The contrast between the vibrant colors and the deep darkness in both banners is likely indicative of different scenes that Major will find herself in throughout the course of Ghost in the Shell – and doubles as a nod to the bright cityscapes that fans will be familiar with from the original anime and the bleak tech-sphere where Major works.
Given the criticisms of white-washing and some of the pre-production complaints that have swirled around Ghost in the Shell for years now, Paramount is correct in their attempt to draw the focus back toward the content of the movie itself. Strong visuals to bolster the complicated storytelling is an integral aspect of the original anime and could be an important selling point, for those moviegoers who have previously been on the fence about this feature film.
Conversely, there is a chance that this is too little, too late. Ghost in the Shell faces an uphill battle amidst the aforementioned bad press. While last year’s Doctor Strange succeeded commercially despite attracting similar criticisms over Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One, that film had the good will of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at its back. While Ghost in the Shell is beloved among anime fans, that may not be enough to sustain its theatrical release. We will find out either way, soon enough.
Source: Paramount Pictures