2017’s Ghost in the Shell was a critical and financial disappointment, scoring 44% on the Tomatometer and making just $170 million on a $110 million budget. On top of that, the film picked up some significant bad publicity after it was accused of whitewashing by casting Scarlett Johansson as lead character Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Personally, I think the movie received a pretty bad rap. It’s got a neat aesthetic, cool action scenes and the cyberpunk body-swapping narrative directly addresses the ‘whitewashing’ accusation. It seems that Netflix may agree with me, too, as we’re hearing that not only are they interested in a Ghost in the Shell live-action series, but that they want Johansson to return in the lead role.
Interestingly, though, this wouldn’t be a sequel to the film but rather, it’d take place in a separate, unrelated continuity. Meaning the actress would be playing a different version of the character. Sort of like how Ryan Reynolds has played two different versions of Deadpool. Plot details and the like are still unclear at this early, early stage, but it could continue the original manga or maybe it’ll even seek to follow-up on the recently released Netflix animated series.
This newcomer to the franchise, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045, premiered on Netflix not too long ago and continues Major Kusanagi’s story, showing her joining a team of cybernetic mercenaries who defuse conflicts all around the world (often violently). Sadly, however, the show hasn’t lived up to expectations, with fans rightly criticizing the choice of 3D over 2D animation. It looks particularly rough, too, leading many to compare the visuals to a last-gen video game. There are even frame-rate drops whenever you see a muzzle-flash on screen.
So, maybe Netflix has concluded that live-action is the way to go after all. The big question, though, is whether Scarlett Johansson wants to step back into this universe and inevitably reignite the controversy over her casting. Plus, with Black Widow in the can, she may opt to do some more low-key indie work than commit to an action-packed Netflix series.
But again, she’s the one that they want to lead their live-action take on Ghost in the Shell and given that this intel comes to us from the same sources who told us Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart had cameos in Hobbs & Shaw, Bill Murray is returning for Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Disney is developing a live-action Robin Hood, we’ve no reason to doubt it.