James Cameron takes a long time to make movies. There are fairly significant gaps in time between Cameron-helmed features, with over a decade passing between Titanic and Avatar. Of course, this is the kind of leeway you get when you’re the director of the two highest grossing films of all time. But back in the post-Titanic days, just as Cameron was gearing up to make another movie, we knew he was deciding between two projects: Avatar and Battle Angel. The latter was a long-developing adaptation of the graphic novel series Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro. It 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, and then set on a path of hunting down vicious criminals.
This was the kind of project that you could see Cameron—the guy behind female-driven actioners like Aliens and Terminator—knocking out of the park, so it was a little disheartening when he chose to make Avatar instead. The filmmaker always maintained his desire to return to Battle Angel at some point, but his preoccupation with making three Avatar sequels at once over the past few years has shed some doubt on the project, despite producer Jon Landau’s previous indication that Battle Angel would be Cameron’s next movie.
Well now it appears that Cameron is giving up on Battle Angel once and for all, though he’s not entirely leaving the project. Per THR, Robert Rodriguez is in negotiations to direct Alita: Battle Angel, with Cameron and Landau producing. Cameron remains enthusiastic about the property and it appears he hand-picked Rodriguez to take the reins:
“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.”
It’s unclear where this falls in Rodriguez’s schedule, though he’s currently working on a Johnny Quest movie so one imagines it will fall after that. For Battle Angel, the Sin City director will be working from a screenplay that Cameron wrote, though one imagines he’ll do a pass on it himself. The idea is to set the action-adventure movie as a backdrop “to themes of self-discovery and the search for love.”
Cameron previously said that while his intention was to make Battle Angel after Avatar, the audience response to the eco-friendly themes of his sci-fi film spurred him to work on sequels instead.
What do you think, folks? Are you happy Battle Angel is finally coming to fruition, even if it’s without Cameron directing? Sound off in the comments below.