Taika Waititi’s live action adaptation of Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s classic 1988 Japanese animated film, Akira has reportedly fallen foul of production issues over the script and casting, meaning that it’s been shelved for the time being. The film, set to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and released by Warner Bros., was scheduled for release in 2021 and was due to start filming as soon as this coming autumn.
The original Akira was in no uncertain terms a groundbreaking film. At the time it was the most expensive Anime film ever. It remains one of the pivotal animated films, conveying action, energy and excitement on a level not seen in most big budget live-action films, along with levels of violence and sophisticated body horror some had only dreamed of. It’s depiction of a nuclear damaged Neo-Tokyo is influenced no doubt by other sci-fi tales but the sheer jaw dropping quality of it’s animation gives it a life of its own. A live action version has always seemed unfilmable.
Waititi is still attached to the project as and when it should restart. He’s not the first director attached to the Akira project since Warner’s acquired the rights, with previous prospective helmers including Stephen Norrington (Blade), The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society) and Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows) among those officially attached but falling away owing to various issues. It was even offered to long time Warner Bros. stalwart George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) at one point who declined over scheduling issues.
So after his next release, the dark comedy based around the holocaust, Jojo Rabbit (in which Waititi plays, we kid you not, Hitler), it’s been announced that Waititi is going to write and direct Thor 4 for Marvel Studios.
Now this is a bit of surprise as (SPOILER ALERT) the last sighting of The God Of Thunder on-screen in Avengers: Endgame revealed that he was an ‘Asgardian Of The Galaxy’ and had set off in the Milano with Star Lord et al, presumably to join their adventures in the cosmos and argue over Alpha-Male status in the already planned and penned Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 from James Gunn (after his very public firing and re-hiring).
It’s fairly safe to say that a new standalone Thor movie was perhaps assumed as unexpected, but the clever folks at Marvel (and lets be honest, they’ve achieved the unthinkable in many respects) have seen fit to continue the Thor series, especially with the man who helped revitalise what was probably the weakest of the three main standalone trilogies within the MCU with the hugely entertaining Thor: Ragnarok in 2017 (and a box office haul north of $850 million helped too). What direction the film will go is in Waititi’s more than capable hands.
Expect some very minor details this week with Comic-Con on the horizon and a Marvel panel expected to announce a renewed production slate.