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Hollywood Whitewashing Strikes Again: Ed Skrein Joins Hellboy Reboot as Major Ben Daimio

Ed Skrein, whom you may remember as antagonist Ajax from Deadpool, was just cast as Major Ben Daimio in an upcoming reboot of Hellboy, starring David Harbour as the titular hero. There’s … a bit of a problem with this casting, as Major Daimio is actually supposed to be a Japanese American character. In the Hellboy lore, he’s a former Marine who joins up with B.P.R.D. after a series of events leaves him with “were-jaguar” powers, which essentially allow him to “turn into a jaguar when he’s angry or in pain.” Cool. Okay.

But of course, the story here is that Skrein is decidedly neither Japanese nor American (nor any combination of the two), but rather British. His casting marks yet another moment in which Hollywood kind of digs a bit deep to whitewash some roles that really should have gone to people of color. It’s a bit disappointing to see for sure, and it’s another point against the reboot, which may already be facing a bit of an uphill battle as it runs through production without Guillermo del Toro, who first helped bring the comic book to life back in 2004.

Directing is Game of Thrones alum Neil Marshall, and alongside Harbour, Milla Jovovich will star as the movie’s villainess and Ian McShane as Hellboy’s adoptive father. There aren’t a whole lot of details out just yet beyond who’s who in the cast, so it’ll be hard to imagine just what the movie might look or feel like. But I mean … with Skrein’s casting, it’s just even more painfully clear that Hollywood just does not get it when it comes to casting roles without whitewashing them.

Most recently, Ghost in the Shell kicked up quite the controversy as the project brought on Scarlett Johansson to play Major, who, in the original anime, is essentially a Japanese woman. What’s more, the movie’s conceit revolves around literal whitewashing as the twist reveals that Major is supposed to actually be the mind of a Japanese woman who is consistently placed into other android/enhanced bodies (hence ghost in the shell, get it). Let’s be honest, that’s about as on-the-nose as it gets, and if Hollywood learned nothing from Ghost in the Shell‘s incredibly disappointing box office turn, then we’re all left to wonder just what the hell it is they’re thinking when they keep doing things like this.

(via IndieWire, image: 20th Century Fox)

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