When Paramount and DreamWorks confirmed they were working on a live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, fans were somewhat weary. Plenty of people were enraged by the film’s casting as they believed Scarlett Johansson’s inclusion whitewashed the film. Fans were also concerned the adaptation would sacrifice canon elements of the popular anime, but Avi Arad says that’s not the case. The produce is now talking about the movie’s storylines, and fans can see they’re sourced straight from the original series.
In an interview with Collider, Arad revealed which storyline Ghost in the Shell is covering from the anime.
“We’re not doing Puppetmaster. It’s not Laughing Man. It involves Kuze. The Kuze story,” he said. “The big thing we are doing here is that we’re not necessarily doing an origins backstory, but we are addressing her sense of self and resolving how she defines herself in terms of memories. That’s one of the main thrusts in the story. Inspired by that episode of Affection in Second Gig. It’s bits and pieces of those mixed together.”
Some fans will be surprised by this revelation. Many expected the movie to be an origin story that introduced moviegoers to Major Motoko Kusanagi. If not that, then they felt the live-action film would at least include the Puppet Master. The character is the primary villain of the original manga and film, and he is renowned for his ‘ghost-hacking’ skills. The being can remotely take control of a cyborg’s body without their consent, and authorities have a difficult time catching Puppet Master because of its incorporeal body. As fans find out, the supposed hacker is nothing more than an advanced artificial intelligence array who uses other bodies to do its bidding.
Instead, Ghost in the Shell will focus on a villain named Hideo Kuze. The character debuted back with Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG as part of a terrorist group called Individual Eleven. The man works with is comrades to suppress refugee rights in Japan and show the country that these foreigners do not belong. Major Kusanagi and her team as Section 9 clash with this group as they try to reign in the terrorists’ deadly schemes.
Arad went on to explain why they elected to forego bigger franchise villains for its first live-action film. He said, “I find that part of the reason we didn’t do Puppetmaster in this movie was we didn’t really feel like we had time to tell that story, and in your first movie the way the characters feel about themselves and the relationship with those people that they care about is usually more than enough story for a movie to handle. So there are villains and they do drive a lot of the story, but they are really there to antagonize her [Kusanagi] spiritually.”
The producer also said fans should expect to see familiar scenes from the anime. For instance, Arad explained that Ghost in the Shell: Innocence will make a few cameos. “You’ll recognize some things from Ghost in the Shell: Innocence like the geisha bot. A lot of the time when you see futurist movies either it feels very beautiful and removed and clean or you have to go down a grimy, dystopic world. Rupert was chasing something else that was more similar to the source where it felt really tactile and tangible and you had things like cables even though wireless makes more sense,” he said.
Paramount and DreamWorks' live-action feature film adaptation of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell mange series, starring Scarlett Johansson (Captain America: Civil War), will be released in the U.S. on March 31, 2017.