The Hellboy reboot's latest casting announcement ignites a whitewashing controversy

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Mar 25, 2021, 11:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Earlier this week it was announced that Ed Skrein, best known to genre fans as Ajax from Deadpool, was joining the upcoming R-rated Hellboy reboot as Ben Daimio, an officer in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense who also happens to be a were-jaguar. Skrein's a talented actor, and Daimio is an interesting character fans have been eager to see make the leap from comics to live action. There's just one problem: In the comics, Daimio isn't a character you'd expect Skrein to play.

Skrein is a British actor, while Ben Daimio is a Japanese-American whose heritage figures prominently in his backstory. While no one is questioning Skrein's acting ability, a backlash has already begun against this casting decision amid cries of yet another Hollywood whitewashing controversy. 

The news involving Skrein is the latest in a series of casting controversies that have erupted in Hollywood in recent years. You might recall a similar backlash when Tilda Swinton took the role of The Ancient One in Marvel's Doctor Strange, or when the American reboots of Ghost in The Shell and Death Note began taking shape. It's an issue that's not going away anytime soon, and while Skrein is the latest actor to face such scrutiny, he won't be the last.

For his part, Skrein has only commented that he's happy to be part of the film.