Recent Hollywood whitewashing of Asian genre roles with Doctor Strange‘s The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Edge of Tomorrow‘s Keiji Kiriya (Tom Cruise), Ghost In The Shell‘s The Major (Scarlett Johansson), and with Hellboy‘s Ben Daimio (Ed Skrein) is starting to get really annoying. It’s about time we start suggesting IPs Hollywood can revive or adapt with Asian lead actors in mind instead of defaulting white actors in these roles.
One project from my childhood that comes to mind is the body horror superhero flick The Guyver and deserves a reboot. It’s obscure enough that with the right budget and creatives behind it, you can hire Asian leads without studio executives’ head exploding.
Based on the Yoshiki Takaya manga titled Bio Booster Armor Guyver its lead character, Japanese teenager Shō Fukamachi, bonds with a Guyer unit which basically makes him an indestructible killing machine.
A test type Zoanoid escapes from the Cronos Corporation with three Guyver Units. Cronos soldiers attempt to recover the units from the test type, but are thwarted when the test type detonates a bomb that he has concealed in his bag. The Guyver Units are scattered in the blast. One of the lost Guyver Units, known as “Unit I”, lands near two young high school students, Shō Fukamachi and Tetsurō Segawa. The second one is retrieved by Cronos and merges with Oswald A. Lisker to become the second Guyver later on. The final unit falls into the hands of Agito Makishima, who merges with it at an unspecified time. Shō accidentally activates the unit which then painfully merges with him.
Over time, Shō learns more about the Guyver and its abilities. The Guyver is virtually invulnerable, with its only weak point being the Control Metal. With this part intact, it can rebuild the host from the data stored within. If this part is critically damaged, however, the host will be eaten alive by the unit and perish. This is disconcerting and Shō starts to question whether he will ever be free from the Guyver. The situation gradually gets worse with continuously more powerful Zoanoids appearing. This makes it increasingly difficult to protect his vulnerable friends.
As the story progresses it also takes a startling turn, in which Cronos succeeds in taking over the world and reshaping it according to its ideals. The Guyvers are then labeled to the public as a “vanguard of alien invaders”.
It would eventually land multiple anime series and films.
Guyver caught the attention of New Line Cinema which turned it into two R-rated low-budget action movies, the first one released in 1991 co-starred Mark Hamill. Sadly, they would Americanize the lead to Sean Barker which was common place with 90s adaptations and somehow is still a thing in 2017.
The lead in the 1994 sequel happened to be David Hayter, who would later pen screenplays for X-Men, X-Men 2, and Watchmen along with hired to write/direct Lionsgate’s canceled Black Widow solo movie. Hayter also voiced Metal Gear‘s Snake from 1998-2010.
Legendary Pictures might be a really good fit for a reboot since they’ve seemed to figure out a good path with creature tentpoles and are open to casting diverse casts. They were able to make Toho happy with their Godzilla deal, I imagine they could convince the Guyver rights holders in Japan too.
You can’t watch this footage and not help to think of things like Blade 2 or the Hellboy movies, meaning that writer-director Guillermo del Toro would be a perfect fit to make to godfather a potential reboot.
We know Guillermo is a massive fan of anime and manga but really hasn’t dabbled in adaptations even though he’s taken inspiration from them on multiple films.
I think an organic tech suit that is used to smash monsters into a bloody pulp sounds like something he’d be interested in. Not to mention, getting to create the man-sized kaiju Zoanoids and it’s been a while since we’ve seen del Toro tackle an R-rated action film.
However, he’s a busy guy as he has Fantastic Voyage next year and has confirmed to talking to Lucasfilm about a possible Star Wars film (his Jabba The Hutt idea?). It wouldn’t hurt to see him taking a producing role, please Guillermo this project needs you and would be super fun.
When it comes to casting I’m not terribly concerned about the leads being teenagers due to the violence involved with the material, so aging the characters by casting older actors isn’t a bad thing at all.
I’d suggest using international actors that have appeared in Legendary movies like Chinese actress Jing Tian (The Great Wall, Pacific Rim 2, Kong: Skull Island) as fellow Guyver Valkyria Forsberg Lisker and Japanese singer/actor Miyavi (Unbroken, Kong: Skull Island) as Shō Fukamachi. Of course, these are just my own casting choices.
Do you think an 80s-90s property like Guyver deserves a reboot? Who would you cast in the lead roles?