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First image of Scarlett Johansson in "Ghost in the Shell" remake sparks outrage

Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks are seeing renewed outrage over the live-action remake of anime classic "Ghost in the Shell" now that the first image of Scarlett Johansson in the film has been released.

The film -- due out in March 2017 and from "Snow White and the Huntsman" director Rupert Sanders -- stars Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi, a human-cyborg hybrid who leads an elite task force taking on major threats to society.

The initial announcement of Johansson's casting the anime remake drew criticism last year, but the release this week of the first official image from the film is stoking outrage all over again.

Among the most visible of the critics, Ming-Na Wen -- star of the "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." television series -- spoke out about the image, though she was careful to pay her respects to fellow Marvel team member Johansson.


Critics see the film as yet another in a long line of examples of Hollywood "whitewashing," opting for caucasian actors regardless of the background of a role.

To make matters worse, sources close to the production told ScreenCrush that digital effects company Lola VFX was tasked with performing tests to make caucasian actors appear more Japanese in "Ghost in the Shell," though a representative for Paramount insists the plans were quickly scrapped and never involved Johansson's character.

"A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded," a rep for Paramount said in a statement. "Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett's character and we have no future plans to do so."

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