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THOR: RAGNAROK Director Taika Waititi May Take on AKIRA

THOR: RAGNAROK Director Taika Waititi May Take on AKIRA

Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to make a live-action Akira movie for decades, and it’s almost happened before. Two years ago, Christopher Nolan was reportedly in talks to direct a trilogy of films based upon the classic manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo. And last year, it was Justin Lin who was circling the project, while Jordan Peele was said to be in the running after the success of Get Out. Now, a new report suggests that Warner Bros. has their sights set on Taika Waititi, the director of Thor: Ragnarok.

Editor’s Note: Nerdist has reached out for further/independent confirmation of the news, but it was not available at the time of publication.

Deadline was the first to report that Waititi is in talks with Warner Bros. to take on Akira as two live-action films, with each movie covering three books of the six-volume manga series. But the way that Deadline describes the script may not make Akira fans very happy: “The story takes place in the rebuilt New Manhattan where a leader of a biker gang saves his friend from a medical experiment.”

The story of Akira is far more involved than that simple blurb would suggest. Even the legendary 1988 Akira anime movie had to condense the larger arc of the series. But the bigger problem is if the new Akira repeats the mistakes of previous anime and manga adaptations by attempting to Americanize the settings and characters. It’s “Neo-Tokyo is about to explode,” not “New Manhattan is about to explode.” If the filmmakers take Neo-Tokyo—and the Japanese leading characters—out of the film then it really won’t be Akira.

In the wake of such tremendous whitewashing backlash against films like Ghost in the Shell or more recently, Hellboy (which saw Ed Skrein exit the film upon the realization that his casting was whitewashing a character), it’s actually kind of horrifying to remember that Dane DeHaan and Michael Pitt were previously competing to play Tetsuo Shima, the Japanese biker who developed incredibly dangerous and unstable psychic powers. Pitt and DeHaan are talented actors, but they are not Japanese.

We have faith that Waititi will take that lesson to heart, if he accepts the gig. But it’s definitely something that we’ll be watching closely.

How do you feel about Waititi potentially directing Akira? And should the new adaptation stay true to the original? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Images: Toho

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