First look at Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg from ‘Ghost in the Shell’

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Production is underway on “Ghost in the Shell,” Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures announced Thursday, releasing a first look at Scarlett Johansson (“Lucy,” “The Avengers”) as cyborg Major Kusanagi.

Directed by Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Van Helsing”), the film has begun shooting in Wellington, New Zealand.

Based on the eponymous Kodansha Comics manga, written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow, the film centers on the Major, who leads an elite task force called Section 9, focused on stopping only the most dangerous criminals and extremists.


Joining Johansson in the cast are Beat Takeshi Kitano (“Battle Royale” series), Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”) and Michael Pitt (“Hannibal,” “Boardwalk Empire”).

Beloved as the original manga series and resulting animated film and series have been, the live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” has already courted controversy with its casting of Johansson as its lead.

Though Johansson’s action chops are considerable, with memorable turns as Black Widow in the Marvel universe and as supernatural protagonists in both “Lucy” and “Under the Skin,” it doesn’t change the fact that the film opted for a white actress in a role that could have easily, and some argue should have, gone to a woman of color.

“Ghost in the Shell” is scheduled for U.S. release March 31 of next year.

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