A petition has been created calling for Scarlett Johansson to be replaced by an Asian actress for the upcoming big screen adaptation of Japanese comic series Ghost In The Shell.

The Avengers star was announced as the lead for the first live-action movie earlier this month (Jan15), and fans of the original Japanese comics and animated films, about a cyborg detective, have set up a campaign to protest against the role being given to an American actress.

The online petition states, "The original film is set in Japan, and the major cast members are Japanese... So why would the American remake star a white actress? The industry is already unfriendly to Asian actors without roles in major films being changed to exclude them.

"(Production company) DreamWorks could be using this film to help provide opportunities for Asian-American actors in a market with few opportunities for them to shine. Please sign the petition asking them to reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and select actors who are truer to the cast of the original film!"

The petition has so far attracted 15,000 signatures.

Ghost in the Shell is set to be directed by Snow White and the Huntsman moviemaker Rupert Sanders and is due for release in 2017.

It is not the only film to have caused a stir over casting choices in recent months - Sir Ridley Scott's biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings was criticised for using Caucasian actors in Middle Eastern roles.