Backlash as Scarlett Johansson cast in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ role


LOS ANGELES — Scarlett Johansson has signed as the lead role in DreamWorks’ live action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” Variety reported Jan. 5. Johansson, who is most recently known for her role starring in “Lucy” and as the Black Widow in Disney’s Marvel Studios films, will play the lead role in the film, according to DreamWorks.

“Ghost in the Shell” is based on a manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, first published in 1989 and later adapted into an anime film by Mamoru Oshii in 1995.  DreamWorks obtained the film rights to the English adaptation in 2008. The series stars Motoko Kusanagi, a Japanese cyborg who leads a covert task force that fights cyber-terrorism and political espionage. While DreamWorks confirmed to the Nichi Bei Weekly that Johansson will play the film’s lead role, they did not confirm whether the role was that of Kusanagi.

Johansson’s casting caused an uproar on the Internet with accusations of whitewashing. The @racebending Twitter account said, “Unsurprising whitewashing strikes again.” Other users asked why Johansson was chosen to play the lead role over other actors such as Rinko Kikuchi who played Mako Mori in “Pacific Rim.” The Angry Asian Man blog commented, “(t)his was inevitable, and nothing really new. Hollywood continues to hammer away at iconic Asian properties and westernizes the hell out of them, routinely swapping out Asian faces with white ones. That’s just the business of Hollywood, usually with lackluster results.”

Rupert Sanders, director of “Snow White and the Huntsman,” will direct the film with William Wheeler writing the screen play.

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