When Ghost in the Shell premieres, fans of the iconic franchise might be surprised about which villain stars in the film. Many fans expected director Rupert Sanders and his team to use the Puppetmaster as its main baddie. However, the crew revealed earlier this year that Ghost in the Shell would involve Hideo Kuze from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG. And, now, the director has commented on how the lesser-known villain will borrow from other anime characters in the series.
“I think to be honest, Kuze borrows a few facets from different characters in the series,” Sanders told ComicBook.com's Lucas Siegel during a recent set visit. “He's not just Kuze and he's not just the puppet master. He's kind of an amalgamation of the way he moves through the network is borrowed from other elements.”
The director then went on to say that his team’s iteration of Kuze was an entirely new creation that actor Michael Pitt helped create.
“Michael Pitt was incredibly immersed in that world. I mean he really went fully in there,” Sanders explained. “He was living in a shipping container next to set, so he could smoke and punch bags simultaneously. He'd be constantly skipping rope. He was incredible.”
Sanders continued, saying, “Him and Scarlett together were these incredible specimens. He was scrawling and drawing and he really immersed himself in the violence of the man. I think it's an incredible performance.”
It’s easy to understand why some Ghost in the Shell fans were surprised to learn that Kuze would act as the film’s antagonist instead of the Puppetmaster. After all, the latter is the primary villain of the first manga and film, and he’s 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, the new live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell will focus on Kuze. The man is 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.
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Earlier this year, producer Avi Arad explained why they chose to feature Kuze over the Puppetmaster, and much of the decision came down to time. 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.”
Paramount and DreamWorks' live-action feature film adaptation of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell manga series, starring Scarlett Johansson (Captain America: Civil War), will be released in the U.S. on March 31, 2017.