There is currently an effort by Dreamworks to adapt Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell into a live action film with Rupert Saunders (Snow White and the Huntsman) with Maggie Robbie taking the lead role of Motoko Kusanagi. While it seems that the adaptation is on its way to the big screen, the need for skepticism should be addressed.
Currently in Hollywood, there is a growing desire to adapt comic books, novels and animated series into television shows and movies. While there has been several examples where adaptions from a source material has proven successful such as the popular shows The Walking Dead and Arrow, as well as movies such as The Avengers and Man of Steel, there are several other failed adaptations. However, the problem with making these adaptations is that there are so many fine details that need to be attended to make a successful film or show. Details such as casting, the screen writing/reference to source material, design and the director chosen needs to be taken in. Each of these play a large role in a movie/show’s development, what I have to consider to be the most important aspects would be casting and relation to the source material.
Despite what anyone says, everyone is going to have a different opinion about who should play as what character. However, there are occasions where an actor/actress will become identical to the characters they play either through acting abilities (Ex. Robert Downey Jr.) or through tireless research of the source material (Ex. Heath Ledger). Casting the right actors can be prove difficult as directors and film companies alike try to infuse their ideas of how a movie should be created. One of the more infamous incidents of miscasting would be Manoj Shyamalan, or more commonly known as M. Night Shyamalan and his casting of the live action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. His decisions with the casting has led to several groups and individuals in both the movie industry and the fan base to accuse him of racism. While M. Night Shyamalan tried to state that race is ambiguous in animated series, it had left it’s mark. When casting for a movie or television show, both the directors and casting directors need to look for actors/actresses that can fit the character’s profile, which leads me to my next point.
Referring to the source material can be a script writer’s biggest nightmare. With the expansive universe that certain series create over time such as the Marvel universe, it can be difficult to capture all of the nuances that lead to a character’s development over time. It can be even more difficult to consolidate them into the a two hour movie. There have been several reoccurring incidents where scripts have had to be edited or completely rewritten to suit the characters’ stories. One such occasion was with the development of The Avengers script. When Joss Whedon read the original script, he essentially threw it in the trash and stated that version of the script never existed and an entirely new script had to be written.
With a plethora of gaming, comic, and novel adaptations coming out over the next few years, directors need to be able to strive for precision when creating and recreating stories that are enjoyed by many. On a side note though, can we please pull the Cowboy Bebop movie out of development hell? It has been long enough already.
Adaptations to look forward to: Uncharted (Game), Bioshock (Game), The Last of Us (Game).