It was supposed to be the all Asian anime adaptation that would change the world. A casting breakdown calling for Japanese and other Asian talent seemed to confirm the team’s dedication to diversity and representation. The state of California had even geared up for a big shoot with an almost $19 million tax credit from the California Film Commission. Unfortunately, like an Esper forced back into stasis before it can grow stronger, Taika Waititi’s Akira has been put on indefinite hiatus.
Sadly, Waititi looks to have been drawn away by the lure of Norse gold–he’s going to be busy devoting his time to directing Marvel’s Thor 4. Waititi previously helmed the beloved and quirky Thor: Ragnarok, the series’ third installment that many assumed would be a fitting end to the series before Avengers: Infinity War.
Waititi’s take on Thor both breathed new life and comedy into the avenger, and solidified his jump to mainstream blockbuster directing. While it’s disappointing that Akira has been shelved, it’s not surprising to see Waititi opt for the franchise that is a proven success. There’s just a lot less pressure!
Still, one can’t help but feel bummed that such a bright and dedicated opportunity for Asian representation won’t be getting it’s time in the light. The thousands of Japanese and Asian performers who submitted tapes and auditioned in person must feel like their time and energy has been wasted. While it’s possible that Waititi’s schedule might free up in the future, the abruptness with which he backed out of the project hints at greater disagreements and creative differences within the whole affair. May 21, 2021 definitely isn’t going to be the day we see Neo-Tokyo brought to life in all its rugged, dystopian splendor.Akira may very well remain in development hell for another generation. In 2012, horror director turned action filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra was reportedly in talks to make the nuclear dream a reality. Previous (mostly white actors) in consideration for roles included Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter, Keira Knightley, Ken Watanabe, Justin Timberlake, Chris Pine, Garred Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, and even Keanu Reeves.
Via The Guardian