Scarlett Johansson Is The Cyberpunk Queen Says Ghost In The Shell Director

When you think of Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell, then you will conjure up images of hi-tech holograms, cybernetic humans, and a whole lot of ammunition. The iconic franchise took Japan and the world by surprise in the late 1990s. The series unapologetically brought cyberpunk culture into mainstream media, and Ghost in the Shell's action-packed storylines were interwoven with complex philosophical musings. Next year, Rupert Sanders will debut his live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson - but his work has been marred with whitewashing accusations.

But, when it comes down to casting, Sanders says he still thinks Johansson is still the girl for the job. In fact, he even has gone so far as to call her the queen of cyberpunk.

Recently, ComicBook.com's Lucas Siegel has a chance to speak with Sanders in Japan during a set visit, and the director took a moment to talk about Johansson's work on the film. Sanders explained that the actress had "to strip away any of those affectations that as an actor you need in order to inhabit a character. She couldn't really do any of that, so she had to be very still and very pragmatic about the performance, but she's very intelligent."

The director continued and said that Johansson approached playing Major Motoko Kusanagi by remembering a simple fact: the character has "been a mind without a body and a body without a mind."

"That's kind of what drew me to her as the major, is she seemed just to inhabit that world so well," Sanders gushed. "and her [Scarlett's] voice, whenever you hear her voice, it just takes you to that place. She really is to me the cyberpunk queen."

Still, there are plenty of fans who question whether Ghost in the Shell has intentionally whitewashed its cast by selecting Johansson to play the lead. In the original manga, Ghost in the Shell is known for hosting a diverse cast of characters, and The Major's ethnicity is often blurred. However, given the franchise's Japanese origin, some fans steadfastly believe that Kusanagi should be played by an Asian actress - no exceptions.

While fans of the series are going back-and-forth over the film's casting, there's one person who is backing the project. Oshii has given his seal of approval to the film and said that Sander's vision is the best he's seen for Ghost in the Shell.

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(Photo: Paramount)
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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.