Years ago, James Cameron was debating between making two projects: Avatar and Alita: Battle Angel. As we all know, he chose Avatar, which went on to become the highest-grossing movie in history and has led to the visionary director spending the last few years developing four sequels, the first of which is currently filming.
While Alita: Battle Angel could have been left in the scrap pile of ideas and half-written scripts, never to see the light of day, the project had at least one person hungry to see it on movie screens: director Robert Rodriguez.
During the 20th Century Fox panel at this past weekend’s CCXP (Comic-Con Experience) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Robert Rodriguez and producer Jon Landau took the stage with Erico Borgo from Omelete to talk about the upcoming science-fiction film and to show off the world premiere of the first trailer (which you can watch here).
During the Q&A, Rodriguez and Landau talked about how the project came together, the world of Battle Angel, the rating, why it took so long to get made, who Alita is, and how Rodriguez ended up helming the project.
If you’re not familiar with Alita: Battle Angel, it’s based on the graphic novel series Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro. From the official synopsis which is pretty in-depth:
“Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. Everything is new to Alita, every experience a first. As she learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield Alita from her mysterious past while her street-smart new friend, Hugo (Keean Johnson), offers instead to help trigger her memories. A growing affection develops between the two until deadly forces come after Alita and threaten her newfound relationships. It is then that Alita discovers she has extraordinary fighting abilities that could be used to save the friends and family she’s grown to love. Determined to uncover the truth behind her origin, Alita sets out on a journey that will lead her to take on the injustices of this dark, corrupt world, and discover that one young woman can change the world in which she lives.”
The film also stars Mahershala Ali, Eiza González, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, Jackie Earle Haley, Ed Skrein, and Casper Van Dien.
Check out the list of ten things to know about Alita: Battle Angel below.
- James Cameron had written most of the Alita: Battle Angel script but never finished it. When Robert Rodriguez was in Cameron’s office he asked him the status of the script because he was a huge fan of the material. Cameron said, “If you can finish the script, you can direct it and I’ll produce.”
- When Rodriguez said he would write the script, Cameron gave him his 180-page script and 600 pages of notes. When he finished writing, it was 120 pages and Landau said it felt like it had everything in it.
- Jon Landau said the film is a huge spectacle and builds a massive new world.
- When the film begins, Alita wakes up with no memory of who she was and is curious about the new world like the audience. We see the movie through her eyes.
- Rodriguez and Landau talked about how they wanted to create a photo-real manga character in real life. They also said they wanted to take the best of cinema and the best of manga and combine it into something new.
- One of the reasons why Alita: Battle Angel wasn’t made until now was the technology used to bring her to life wasn’t available. It’s only in the last year or two it became feasible.
The film ask’s, “What does it mean to love in this world?”
- Rodriguez said they had to ground the movie in reality and the film hardly has any green screen.
- The world doesn’t have many cities left. Iron City, where Alita wakes up, is considered a lower city.
- Rodriguez and Landau said the film has a ton of action and it will be PG-13. While some might be nervous about the rating and not being able to show certain things, they said when it’s science-fiction and cyborgs you can get away with a lot.
- They said Alita is not a superhero. She’s just a hero.