Fans have been given their first look at Scarlett Johansson in the film Ghost in the Shell, which is being filmed in New Zealand.

Production is underway in Wellington and will see The Avengers actress transformed into cyborg Major Kusanagi in a live action adaptation of Kodansha Comics manga, written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow.

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Johansson's blonde locks have been replaced by a short, jet-black bob for the part. She will be joined by actors Beat Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche and Michael Pitt in the film.

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According to the LA Times, Johansson's casting in the film caused controversy with accusations of Hollywood "whitewashing".

The film is directed by Rupert Sanders, known for his work on Snow White and the Huntsman and Van Helsing.

Ghost in the Shell is set for release in March next year.

- nzherald.co.nz