After it was revealed that director Taika Waititi was in talks to direct a live-action version of Akira for Warner Bros., Waititi has since said that he is “very passionate” about Akira, and if he was to do it, he would cast Asian teenagers.
In an interview with IGN, the Thor: Ragnarok director explained that there has been “some chats” about Akira. While he has not signed on to bring the cyberpunk classic to the big screen, he did mention that his version would not be a straight remake of the anime film, saying, “I would not do a remake of the movie. I would do an adaptation of the books.” Also showing that he’s a fan of Katsuhiro Otomo’s six-volume manga, he said, “I actually love the books.”
Given the controversy of whitewashing characters, as seen recently with Ed Skrein choosing to leave the role of Ben Daimio in the Hellboy reboot, Waititi also commented on who he would cast. The director said that if he was to do Akira then, “Asian teenagers would be the way to do it,” adding that it would be a cast of, “unfound, untapped talent.”
Warner Bros. has spent a number of years trying to develop a live-action Akira movie. The closest the studio got was with director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown), who was set to start rolling in 2012, only for the project to be shut down, with Warner citing script and budget issues.