Taika Waititi has quickly become a fan-favorite director as each of his projects gets a ton of support online, so fans have been cautiously optimistic toward the news that he will be directing a live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite the many changes that the film will have from the original series, and despite the numerous other live-action Akira projects stuck in development for the last few years, it seems like this one is really happening.
Though not many updates from the film's production, such as who will actually star in this film, have been revealed, Discussing Film notes that the cinematographer, production designer and costume designer have been hired. The film is currently slated for a May 21st, 2021 release and fans of the original are definitely interested in seeing how the casting turns out.
The synopsis of the film is a much different sounding story from Katsuhiro Otomo's original work, so fans are certainly on their toes. According to trade magazine Production Weekly, the film is described as such:
"When a young man’s telekinesis is discovered by the military, he is taken in to be turned into a super weapon and his brother must race to save him before Manhattan is destroyed by his powers. Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother Tetsuo is abducted by Government agents lead by the Colonel. Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join Ky Reed and her underground movement who are intent on revealing to the world what truly happened to New York City 30 years ago when it was destroyed.
Kaneda believes their theories to be ludicrous, but after facing his brother again is shocked when he displays telekinetic powers. Ky believes Tetsuo is headed to release a young boy. Akira, who has taken control of Tetsuo’s mind, Kaneda clashes with the Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing Akira, but arrives too late. Akira soon emerges from his prison courtesy of Tetsuo as Kaneda races to save his brother before Akira once again destroys Manhattan island as he did thirty years ago."
So while this film might be described as a huge detour from the original work, there's no telling how much will be change until production starts in full and more details are revealed over the next year.
Originally created by Katsuhiro Otomo for Kodansha's Young Magazine in 1982, Akira later inspired the equally as prolific 1988 animated film, which Otomo himself directed. The story is set in a dystopian world following the bleak close of World War III. A gang leader known as Kaneda finds himself embroiled in a massive government operation when his best friend begins exhibiting powerful telekinetic gifts. To save his friend, Kaneda must get to the bottom of Neo Tokyo’s espers, but the lead quickly learns he is in way over his head.