One of the most popular Japanese mangas ever is set to get the live-action treatment later this month, when Ghost in the Shell hits theaters worldwide. The project has not been able to avoid a fair amount of backlash after casting Scarlett Johansson (usually a fan favorite actress in any project) due to outrage over Paramount whitewashing the lead role. While there are still those that remain unhappy with this decision, the visual style of the marketing has begun to win back former naysayers.
Throughout the marketing, the studio has been sure to highlight the many ways in which Ghost in the Shell will stay faithful to the source material that has come before, with iconic moments being directly translated to the big screen. Still, with this being a new interpretation of the material, there were undoubtedly set to be changes. Now, the newest TV trailer confirms a rather significant one.
Paramount officially unveiled the new 'Wake Up' trailer that showcases Johansson's character waking up in her new robotic body for the first time in Ghost in the Shell While discussing the incident that led to her undergoing these changes, Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) calls Johansson "Meera." The rest of the trailer highlights what should be key sequences in the film.
Obviously, there are going to be many that are once again unhappy with the change. In the original manga, The Major is the codename for Motoko Kusanagi. The reasoning behind this change should be rather straightforward. Paramount and director Rupert Sanders likely made this switch to further avoid more whitewashing criticisms so that Major's look is based on her former self Meera, and not having Johansson's look be the new physical form of someone of Japanese descent.
There may be good intentions behind this change, but it further shows the steps they took to try and justify the casting of Johansson rather than cast an Asian actor for the role. If they had done the latter, keeping Motoko Kusanagi as Major's name would not have been a problem.
However, Paramount clearly brought Johansson on board for the star power that comes attached to her. Thanks to her role as Black Widow in the MCU, she has become one of cinema's top female stars, something that was only further proven to be the case with how well Lucy did at the box office. Even though Ghost in the Shell is a recognizable brand for some, it is widely unknown to many. Johansson's attachment is bringing more eyes to the project, whether that is good or bad. Hopefully, if the movie turns out to be a hit, audiences can discover the original material and give Paramount the ability to bring in other prominent Japanese roles into future installments.
Source: Paramount Pictures
- Ghost in the Shell (2017) release date: Mar 31, 2017