There’s no denying that Taika Waititi is an amazing filmmaker and deserves every drop of love he gets for his films. If you can inject life into Thor, aka Marvel’s most boring franchise, and turn it into the best part of that sprawling universe, you’re a special kind of talent.
But Thor: Ragnarok pales in comparison to his next project as The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that his next film is a live-action adaptation of the seminal manga series, Akira, which will officially open on May 21, 2021.
On one hand this is super exciting as it means Taika is at the helm of another big-budget Hollywood flick. On the other, it’s a bit worrying because he is at risk of burning up his goodwill with fans by taking on this ambitious project.
For those who are unaware, Akira was launched in 1982 and is one of the greatest manga ever conceived due to its depiction of a post-apocalyptic Japan and its exploration into themes such as culture clash and societal fears of nuclear war. The manga then spawned arguably the greatest anime film ever, which was also titled Akira, which basically rewrote the rulebook on animation at the time and helped popularised anime in the United States.
That is a LOT of expectation to live up to and if history has taught us anything about Hollywood making live-adaptations of iconic manga and anime, this is a recipe for disaster. Just look at Ghost In The Shell, Death Note, Speed Racer, Dragonball Evolution, and to a lesser extent, Alita: Battle Angel.
But if there’s anyone who can weather the tsunami of fanboy hate that will inevitably spawn from a project like this while somehow managing to make a decent movie, it’s Taika.
He has previously said that he’s a big fan of Akira and his take on the project would be to adapt the manga rather than the film. Perhaps most importantly, he said he intends to cast Asian actors for the leads rather than whitewashing the entire cast, though it remains to be seen whether Taika will have his film “Americanised” as it was previously intended when other people tried (and failed at) making it.
There’s no doubt that Taika is a talented filmmaker with a firm grasp on what he’s doing. Hell, he may be the only director in Hollywood who is capable of pulling off Akira‘s iconic scene in which the antagonist, Tetsuo, transforms from overpowered kid to a gigantic veiny blob of flesh.
It remains to be seen how this live-action adaptation of Akira will ultimately turn out but with Taika Waititi at the helm, there’s hope that this could be something special and not another poorly-received project starring Scarlett Johansson as the lead.