The possibility of this first started circulating last fall, but now it’s being reported that Scarlett Johansson is adding another big action movie to her resume, signing on to star in DreamWorks’ much talked about live-action version of Ghost in the Shell.
According to Variety and their industry sources, the Lucy star, hot off of acclaimed turns in Under the Skin and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (not to mention the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron), has agreed to front the long-gestating anime adaptation.
Directed by Mamoru Oshii, the 1995 film is itself an adaptation of the beloved manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The story follows the adventures of Section 9, the fancy cops of a Japanese public security agency, as they track down a notorious hacker named the Puppet Master. He’s so good he can actually hack people and control them. At least on the surface, the westernized version tells the same story, as the narrative “follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.”
The protagonist is the cybernetic Major Mutoko Kusangi, and whatever the character’s name winds up being, this is the role Johansson will play. For a time, The Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie was linked to this part, but she’s going to be busy for the foreseeable future with that Sinister Six movie.
Johansson has shown that she can handle herself in a capable fashion when it comes to big time action like this, and she’s not afraid to play up the sensuality angle that is such an integral part of the story. She can also juggle fast-paced action and intense emotion, which is going to be key to bringing this character to life.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the finished movie looks like, as the anime is pretty racy stuff, with lots of nudity and sexuality, not to mention end-to-end violence. If they stay true to the source material, this is going to be a hard R-rated movie, but you have to assume they’ll rein that in for a more audience friendly rating.
Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders will helm Ghost in the Shell. I’m not too high on that movie, the script and story aren’t much, but it is a very nice looking film, and he has the visual chops that he’ll need to pull this off. He’ll work from a script by William Wheeler (The Cape—“six seasons and a movie!”), and Paramount also reportedly has an option to join the party in a co-producing and financing capacity, but there’s no word on that just yet.
Ghost in the Shell is a visionary movie that still resonates today. Look no further than the work of filmmakers like the Wachowskis to see the aesthetic debt that modern science fiction owes to this film. DreamWorks’ Steven Spielberg is well known to be a big fan, and has been trying to get this project off the ground for years. Hopefully this version will manage to keep the deep, intricate thematic elements, much of which is just as important today as in 1995, intact instead of going for spectacle over story.