Ghost in the Shell Producer Looks to Adapt Lone Wolf and Cub With an “Essentially Japanese” Cast
Variety reports that Steven Paul, the producer behind the upcoming Scarlett Johansson-led Ghost in the Shell movie, is set to produce another English-language adaptation of a beloved Japanese property.
A manga that has already been adapted into six live-action movies in Japan, as well as two TV series, a video game, and multiple stage shows, Lone Wolf and Cub follows the journey of titular lone wolf assassin Ogami Ittō and his young son, Daigorō. English-language adaptations of the property have been rumored for years, with Darren Aronofsky and Justin Lin both rumored to be attached to the project at various points in the past. Variety reports that Paul’s company SP International Pictures now owns the remake and sequel rights.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Final Conflict is slated to shoot in Thailand and China in 2017 (Ghost in the Shell is set for release in March of that year). Very notably, given the whitewashing in Ghost in the Shell specifically as well as Hollywood overall, Paul says the film will star, quote Variety, “an essentially Japanese cast.”
That wording appears to be Variety’s rather than Paul’s, but you have to wonder what the phrase “essentially Japanese cast” is meant to convey. “Essentially Japanese,” as in Japanese actors with a white actor in the lead role? Given the movie’s source material, that would be truly outrageous. “Essentially Japanese” also makes me think of Hollywood’s troubling tendency to cast Asian actors of one ethnicity to play an Asian character of a different ethnicity.
I’d love to think that Paul has learned from the backlash to Ghost in the Shell, and that he expressed to Variety an interest in cultural sensitivity, representation, and preserving nuance in all the adaptations he produces going forward, but it’s impossible to tell from the limited context available so far. Here’s hoping that Lone Wolf and Cub is “essentially Japanese,” whatever that means, in the best way possible.
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