Ghost in the Shell may not have been a complete critical failure as many expected, with a current Rotten Tomatoes rating of 46 percent. While that isn't "Certified Fresh," it is still an average score and has been boosted by its stunning visuals and action. It has failed where it really counts though; its box office sales are well off the mark, with it expecting to lose at least $60 million dollars.
I think most by now are aware of Ghost in the Shell's major (pun unintended) controversy surrounding the casting of #ScarlettJohansson as the main character. Considering that the character of Major is meant to be Asian, and with the film taking place in Japan, why is a white woman the main character in this film?
To put it simply, it's because Scarlett Johansson is a bigger star and box office draw than any Asian-American actress currently in Hollywood. So, director Rupert Sanders took the risk and cast a powerhouse actress over a lesser known Asian-American actress.
I cannot argue that there is an Asian-American actress who has more star power than Johansson, but does that make whitewashing OK? I think if anything Ghost in the Shell has proven that no, it does not make it OK. Even with her star power and box office draw, Johansson being on the front of every billboard and in every commercial was not enough to make people overlook whitewashing and turned off diehard fans as well.
Would Ghost in the Shell have done better if an Asian-American actress took the role instead? I believe so, and I think there was one actress that would've not only improved the box office, but made the film vastly better.
The actress I'm referring to is Suicide Squad breakout #KarenFukuhara.
While Suicide Squad was her first film, and one of her first acting credits overall, she still has a lot of potential as an action star.
Her abilities as a martial artist and ability to wield a sword are what got her cast as Katana, and while her speaking scenes were mostly in Japanese, she was still able to convey a fierce tone to American audiences during her heartfelt moments. Through deleted scenes, you're able to see her acting chops come out a bit more, and I was impressed with her talent among the other Hollywood heavyweights.
She may not have the same star power, but what would Fukuhara have brought to the film?
Avoided Whitewashing And Made More Money
Let's start with the obvious: If Fukuhara was cast instead it would've diffused the whitewashing scandal, and without that dark cloud following the movie throughout filming and production, the staff would've been much more stress-free when making the movie. Maybe some of the pressure to overachieve and overcome the whitewashing scandal would've been lifted.
Ghost in the Shell's box office woes can all be traced back to the controversy, and it killed too much interest in the film. Having Fukuhara in the film would've earned the trust back from diehard fans and would've intrigued casual moviegoers from the hype alone. This would change with any Asian-American actress, so what makes her stand out from the rest?
Fukuhara Is A More Skilled Martial Artist Than Johansson
In the video above Fukuhara explains her auditioning process to become Katana. She talks about her background in martial arts and also explains how she had to tryout using a sword for the first time in her life with no prior experience. In the most humble way possible she essentially explains that she was a natural at wielding the weapon.
While Major isn't know for wielding a sword, she is an action-packed character that Fukuhara and her natural talent would've been far more proficient at portraying then Johansson. While playing Black Widow has given Johansson an extensive background in action movies, I believe Fukuhara's athleticism outweighs Johansson's, and would've allowed her to connect with the character much easier.
Fukuhara Is On The Rise
While Katana was not a prominent figure in Suicide Squad, it was still a very promising first role for the young actress, who has developed quite a following since the movie and through her bubbly personality in interviews and campaigning for the film.
She's not a household name, but director Rupert Sanders missed out on giving Fukuhara her breakout role. Her fan following would've added more hype to the film and if she performed as outstanding as I predict she would have, it would've brought casual fans around to see what all the fuss was about.
I think that casting a young up-and-comer offers just as much monetary potential as casting a powerhouse actress, especially with a film based on manga source material with such a passionate fan base.
What do you guys think? Is there anyone else you wish has a chance to play Major? Tell me what you think in the comments.