Oh, Akira. You’re never going to be able to make fans happy. Die-hards are going to hate the fact that the characters are older than the original incarnations in Katsuhiro Otomo‘s manga and movie — maybe up  to 30 years older if this rumor comes true. There is the whitewashing issue, and the fact that, even with two films and a big-ish budget to play with, concessions will have to be made to put the story on screen.

But let’s throw this one out and see how everyone responds. While actors like James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson and Mila Kunis have been mentioned for roles, the current reported front-runner to play Akira‘s lead, the juvenile delinquent biker Kaneda, is Keanu Reeves. Whoa.

THR says that Keanu Reeves has had talks with the studio to play Kaneda, but there isn’t yet an offer out for him to sign on. He and Warner Bros. have a good legacy relationship, thanks to the Matrix films, and I guess if director Albert Hughes and WB want to age the characters up to the point where they’re essentially different characters, and cast recognizable mainstream actors, Keanu Reeves would be one of the most appropriate choices for Kaneda.

Is this going to happen? Seems more likely than anything else at this point. Should it happen? Frankly, I’ve given up any investment in the development of this particular project and I’m just looking at it like a strange beast caged in a zoo.

As I’ve said before I’m always ready to embrace big changes that are made when a property is adapted from page to screen, so I’m not writing this off entirely. It probably won’t be Akira as we know it, but there are already a couple versions of that Akira. So maybe Albert Hughes can come up with something new to present using the same basic building blocks. I know, I know — why call it Akira, if that’s the case? I don’t have an answer beyond the basics of economics and the development of big properties. The name will sell, and so that’s one thing that WB will probably never give up.

(And yes, Sad Keanu is pretty over at this point, but it seemed all too appropriate here.)

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