James Cameron has been developing Battle Angel, an adaptation of the Manga series Battle Angel Alita for years now, but with his attention pulled in the direction of the ever-expanding Avatar franchise there has been relatively little visible forward progress until recently. Cameron handed over directorial duties to Robert Rodriguez last year and the filmmakers set out to find the right young woman to lead the film. Last month, news broke that the search had narrowed down to three candidates — including It Follows star Maika Monroe, Disney sensation Zendaya, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials standout Rosa Salazar. Today, we have learned from sources that Salazar has landed the coveted role.
Based on the manga series by Yukito Kishiro, Battle Angel takes place in the 26th century and tells the story of an amnesiac female cyborg who is rescued from a scrapyard by a doctor, rebuilt with no memory of her previous life excepting her kickass martial arts skills, and becomes a bounty hunter tracking down vicious criminals. Salazar has a pretty impressive resume for an up-and-coming actress, especially for only having been on the scene for the last five years, and after a notable turns in Insurgent, The Scorch Trials, and the wonderful FX comedy Man Seeking Woman she’s become a name to watch. Now, she’s landed what could be her breakout role.
Rodriguez is also in the running to helm an adaptation of Jonny Quest, and when Steve sat down with producer Adrian Askarieh late last year, it sounded like that film was starting to finally taking steps towards production, but with Battle Angel casting up, it seems like Quest might need a new director.
Cameron hand-picked Rodriguez for to take over at the helm of his long-time passion project, and Rodriguez is said to be working from Cameron’s script, though he’s likely to take a pass at it and punch it up with his own style. Here’s what Cameron had to say about their collaboration when he announced his departure as director:
“Robert and I have been looking for a film to do together for years, so I was pumped when he said he wanted to do Battle Angel,” stated Cameron. “He’s very collaborative and we’re already like two kids building a go-kart, just having fun riffing creatively and technically. This project is near and dear to me, and there’s nobody I trust more than Robert, with his technical virtuosity and rebel style, to take over the directing reins. We’re looking forward to learning a lot from each other while we make a kick-ass epic.”
No word yet on a production timeline for the long-developed adaptation, and there’s certainly precedent for actors locking a role with a long lead time, but this is significant forward motion and points to Battle Angel happening sooner than later.