GHOST IN THE SHELL

After many, many years stuck in development, Paramount and DreamWorks’ live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell finally began shooting this spring — and promptly stirred up a boatload of controversy. At issue was the decision to cast Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. Hollywood has a long and ugly history of whitewashing, and many fans were less than thrilled to see a white actress take on an iconic Asian role.

But producer Steven Paul is sure fans will come around eventually. He defends the controversial casting as “the right approach,” insisting that fans will be “very, very happy” with the film. Read his reaction to the Ghost in the Shell casting controversy below. Read More »

Josh Trank exits Star Wars

Two weeks ago, a man walked into the Pulse gay club in Orlando and began firing his gun. By the time his spree was over, 49 people had been killed and another 53 injured, making it the deadliest hate crime ever committed against LGBTQ people in the U.S. as well as the deadliest mass shooting overall in our history. Survivors, their loved ones, and their communities are still reeling from the loss. But one man is hoping to honor the victims in an unusual and moving way.

IGN editor Joshua Yehl is asking Disney and Lucasfilm to memorialize the victims by introducing the first-ever LGBTQ Star Wars character, to be inspired by his best friend Drew Leinonen — a massive Star Wars fan and one of those killed in the attack.  Read More »

Doctor Strange and Wong

The first trailer for Marvel’s Doctor Strange introduced many of the key players including Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). One we haven’t seen yet, though, is Wong, played by Benedict Wong.

In the comics, Wong is Strange’s sidekick and valet as well as a master martial artist himself. But expect some big changes in the movie version. “I’m certainly not going to be the tea-making manservant,” the actor teased in a recent interview.  Read More »

Finding Dory lesbian couple

Pixar’s Finding Dory caused a minor commotion last month, when its latest trailer featured a very brief shot of what appeared to be a lesbian couple. The characters in question only appear for about two seconds (if that), but that was enough time to get the internet buzzing about what might be the studio’s first same-sex couple. Hollywood in general, and Disney in particular, has had a dismal track record with LGBT inclusion in its films. Could this be a step in the right direction?

Now that Finding Dory has actually started to screen, however, it’s sounding like the truth is a little bit murkier. Director Andrew Stanton isn’t denying the characters in question are gay — but he isn’t confirming it, either.  Read More »

Jeremy Irons Batman v Superman critics

Jeremy Irons‘ Alfred Pennyworth was one of the best parts of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a welcome font of warmth and humor in an otherwise pitch-dark movie. Nevertheless, he’s well aware of the drubbing that the film has received from critics, and he’s even inclined to agree that it “deserved” those terrible reviews. But don’t worry — he sounds more optimistic about Justice League, in which he’ll reprise his role as Batman’s loyal butler. And not just because the role gives him “a bit of an income,” as he puts it.  Read More »

John Cho Movie Posters

This summer we’ll see John Cho back in action aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek Beyond. However, he may be known even better for co-leading the comedy trilogy that began with Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Beyond that, John Cho has struggled to find a lead role in a major studio film that takes advantage of his skills in both drama and comedy, largely because it’s difficult for Asian-American actors and actresses to land lead roles in Hollywood.

Now one New York artist has launched a little viral campaign to bring attention to that issue by creating Photoshopped posters for some of the biggest blockbusters from the past couple years and putting John Cho in the lead roles. What if John Cho starred in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation or Jurassic World? Find out below. Read More »

Frozen Elsa

Disney’s heavy-hitting franchises are slowly getting more diverse. The Force Awakens has more female and non-white characters in speaking roles than the first three Star Wars movies combined. Captain America: Civil War introduces a new black superhero this weekend (and he’s getting his own movie in 2018). This fall’s Moana introduces Disney’s first Polynesian princess. And so on. But even as these universes gradually open up to women and people of color, they’ve continued to leave LGBT people out in the cold. And fans and filmmakers alike would like to see that change.

Recently, GLAAD called upon the studio to include LGBT characters in the Star Wars universe. Now the Frozen faithful are campaigning on social media to “#GiveElsaAGirlfriend” in the sequel, while Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo field questions about when the Marvel Cinematic Universe will get its first major gay character.  Read More »

Doctor Strange

Marvel’s decision to cast Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange was always bound to attract controversy. The character is an Asian man in the comics, so putting a white woman in the role led to complaints about whitewashing. But the Doctor Strange team is standing by its choice. Last week Swinton went on record insisting that there were “very good reasons” for the change, and now Doctor Strange screenwriter C. Robert Cargill and Marvel Studios have weighed in as well.  Read More »

doctor strange whitewashing

Tilda Swinton is an ethereal being who has temporarily taken on our form so she can grace us with her presence and quietly exude psychic waves that hint at the true nature of the cosmos, so it’s a bit of a shame that she’s currently at the center of a very human controversy. She plays the mystical mentor to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange, a character known as the Ancient One…a character who was originally depicted as an Asian man in his 1963 comic book debut. As you’d expect, the arrival of the trailer two weeks ago sparked a controversy over the whitewashing of this character and now, Swinton herself has responded to it.

Read More »

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Ghost in the Shell

Earlier this year Chris Rock caused a minor kerfuffle at the Oscars when he took the stage to take on Hollywood’s mistreatment of black people… only to crack jokes at the expense of Asian people. The tasteless jokes underlined what I think many Asians and Asian-Americans have long suspected: that the push for more “diversity” and “inclusion” in Hollywood does not extend to us. That to them, we aren’t worthy of respect or consideration or even common courtesy.

Last week, two major projects further drove that point home. On Tuesday night, Marvel dropped the first trailer for Doctor Strange, rich in Orientalist undertones and featuring a white woman (Tilda Swinton) as a racebent version of an Asian character. Then on Thursday, Paramount and DreamWorks unveiled the first official still from the anime adaptation Ghost in the Shell, starring another white woman (Scarlett Johansson) as a character named “Motoko Kusanagi” in the source material. Whitewashing is a tradition as old as Hollywood itself. Still, you’d think that after the Oscars misstep, and the Emma Stone in Aloha dustup, and the The Last Airbender and Exodus: Gods and Kings and Pan and Gods of Egypt controversies, Hollywood would have learned its lesson. Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell suggest that they most certainly have not.  Read More »