Ghost in the Shell, similar to fellow Hollywood-ized live-action manga/anime film adaptation Akira, is a project that’s been rumored for several years, but has yet to actually get off the ground. Earlier this year, the futuristic sci-fi thriller gained a new director in Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman), who will draw from a screenplay penned by William Wheeler (The Cape). Now, it’s possible the film-in-making has found its lead.
The Wrap is reporting that Margot Robbie has begun “early talks” to star in Sander’s Ghost in the Shell movie. Robbie’s potential role isn’t specified in the article, but presumably her character would be based on the Major Motoko Kusanagi character from Masamune Shirow’s 1989 source manga (and Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 anime film adaptation of the same name).
Ghost in the Shell, for those not familiar, takes place in a future (the year 2029 in Oshii’s anime feature) where much of the world is interconnected through a massive electronic network via cybernetic bodies known as “shells.” Major Kusanagi, an agent for a public security service known as Section 9, is tasked with tracking down an elusive hacker known as the Puppet Master, which leads to her uncovering a far larger conspiracy at work.
The sci-fi landscape in Hollywood has long been influenced by the original Ghost in the Shell property; Andy and Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix is essentially their version of the cyberpunk world depicted in Ghost in the Shell, while the brand’s also provided inspiration for such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg (who is still backing the live-action adaptation after having once toyed with making a 3D movie adaptation himself). So, out of all the Japanese comic book-based films in development in Hollywood right now, it makes sense that this one might find its footing first.
That is to say, Ghost in the Shell reads as being an easier sell to your average U.S. moviegoers than other developing manga/anime film adaptations (see: Bleach), since it wrestles with themes and ideas that are very similar to those covered over the past decade by many a Hollywood movie or U.S. TV show (see Almost Human for a recent example). Fans of the original Ghost in the Shell are sure to have mixed feelings about the property being American-ized and/or white-washed, as appears to be the case; still, the manga/anime property should be able to make that transformation with less awkwardness than others.
Robbie isn’t a big enough name to sell Ghost in the Shell on her own, but at the same time her star is very much on the rise. The Australian acting talent made a splash last year with her turn in director Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street; she will next appear opposite Will Smith in the con artist comedy Focus in early 2015, and is currently filming her role as Jane for the 3D Tarzan movie scheduled for arrival in Summer 2016. So, as far as stars go, Robbie’s a fine choice to lead the charge on the Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell.
Sanders as the director on Ghost in the Shell, however, has promise but is a more questionable choice. He certainly delivered a good-looking film with his Snow White retelling (Sanders’ debut as a feature director), but has yet to demonstrate that he can create visuals that bring out greater depths in the story being told, as a filmmaker. All the same, Sander’s directorial instincts might be sharper during his second time at bat.
We’ll bring you more information on Ghost in the Shell as it comes our way.