Ghost in the Shell trailer: First full look at Scarlett Johansson in controversial manga adaptation

The manga adaptation has received considerable backlash for casting Johansson in what's perceived as a distinctly Japanese role

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The Independent Culture

Paramount has finally released the first trailer for its adaptation of the Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell; following a lengthy tease of six ten-second snippets from the film

Scarlett Johansson takes on the role of Major, a special-ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elit e task force Section 9 devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists.

Though the trailer promises some stunning, futuristic visuals; what's been shown so far does little to quieten the whitewashing controversy surrounding this film, showing a distinctly Japanese setting but with the focus being largely placed on Johansson, Juliette Binoche, and Danish actor Pilou Asbæk. 

 Fans had already expressed their dismay at the news Johansson would be cast in the lead role of (the clearly Japanese) Motoko Kusanagi, and the first image of the actor in the role seemed only to solidify the dissonance of her casting.

A defining voice in the backlash was Ming Na-Wen, the voice of Disney's Mulan and current star of Marvel television series Agents of Shield; with comic writer Jon Tsuei explaining Ghost in the Shell actually ties into something deeply rooted within Japanese identity and to whitewash its story is to strip it of its weight, power, and relevance. 


Producer Steven Paul has defended the decision by stating that fans are "going to end up being really happy with it" and that the film isn't distinctly Japanese, but takes place in "an international world"; though Kaori Momoi has recently revealed she'll be - confusingly - playing Johansson's mother in the film, leaving the film in a particularly perilous position when it comes to navigating the cultural issues brought up by this approach to adaptation.

Ghost in the Shell hits UK cinemas 31 March 2017.

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