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Warner Bros really wants to make their live-action adaptation of Akira. And every couple of months or so a new director or producer is offered the project, which is based on the seven volume strong manga. The last time we'd heard the project's name being bandied about Jordan Peele was offered the film, but turned it down to focus on films more along the lines of Get Out. Which leaves the post vacant, and ready to be offered to the latest director to be connected to the film: Thor: Ragnarok's Taika Waititi.
The talks were announced today courtesy of Deadline, which states that Waititi's name has become the latest to dance around Akira's director's chair. The new adaptation sees the story of bikers Tetsuo and Kaneda transplanted to New Manhattan, with the friends ultimately becoming enemies over the course of the story's development. With the original 1988 anime still standing as the legendary, and lone, adaptation of the series created by Katsuhiro Otomo, there has been a long and troubled history in trying to bring Akira to the modern screen.
With the most recent drafts of Akira replacing the original setting of Neo Tokyo with a city more recasting friendly, there's been a mix of trepidation and false starts with previous attempts. Yet Warner Bros and former studio partner Legendary Pictures are still trying to make this new film happen, and Taika Waititi just might be the person to get the job done. For starters, the buzz surrounding Thor: Ragnarok is deafening. The threequel will see Thor's return, and Waititi's sensibilities for action and humor have excited the world to see what's going to come of the Odinson's third time at bat. Also, its exciting that Waititi has jumped into something as voluminous as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the story that draws on lengthy comic sourcing, much like Akira would.
However, the greatest strength to Taika Waititi's possible hiring for Akira is the fact that his own background might prompt the film to return to its roots. With a strong vision and a killer resume, his recent buzz could possibly gives him the latitude with the studio to return the setting to Neo Tokyo, with ethnically appropriate leads. It might seem like a standard gripe, but especially when it comes to Akira, it might draw fans old and new to the theaters to see this proposed duology on the big screen.
This is especially important after Ghost in the Shell upset audiences looking for an Asian lead actress, as well as Ed Skrein recently stepping down from the Hellboy reboot in order to make way for Daniel Dae Kim to fill his role. Should Akira address those casting snafus under Taika Waititi's potential reign in the director's chair, the project could finally find its studio and its fan base ready to relive the epic tale in a new medium.
Of course, this is all in advanced talks, as Waititi's efforts are focused on delivering Thor: Ragnarok to theaters on November 3rd. But should any further movement be had, we'll report back with new information.