The whole issue of whitewashing has always been interesting to me. Fan outrage about the recent Netflix Death Note comes to mind. I personally do not find that whitewashing as the original anime was set in Japan, while the Netflix movie is an American version of it, set in the US. But I understood where the backlash was coming from.
On the other hand, the casting of Ed Skrein as Ben Daimio is straight up unnecessary white washing. In the Hellboy comic books created by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis, Ben Daimio is a JAPANESE-AMERICAN soldier part of the US Marines. He died during one of his missions, only to come back alive and join the BPRD.
Discounting his performance in Transporter: Refueled, Ed Skrein is a decent actor and I’m sure he’ll do a fine job as Ben Daimio as well. The question is, why cast him in the first place? Couldn’t director Neil Marshall find a Japanese American actor? Or at the very least, an Asian American of that skin tone?
As much as I disagree with the casting of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell, at the very least I understood the reasoning from a business perspective. Scarlett Johansson brings in the big bucks (or so they thought). However, Ed Skrein isn’t anywhere in the same league as Scarlett Johansson. And considering how the lead of this Hellboy reboot is David Harbour, who isn’t a big name Hollywood A-lister, either, the non-casting of an Asian American to play Ben Daimio is a baffling move.
Hellboy will be directed by Neil Marshall and star David Harbour as Hellboy, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Milla Jovovich as the Blood Queen and Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan.