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James Cameron’s Battle Angel: 20 Years in the Making

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James Cameron’s Battle Angel: 20 Years in the Making
written by
Nader Issa

James Cameron’s Alita: Battle Angel, the upcoming cinematic adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga, Battle Angel Alita, which follows the story of a female cyborg who falls for a young man, has all the potential to be a groundbreaking cinematic feature. After his tremendous success with Titanic, Cameron became intrigued by the idea of revolutionizing the 3D motion capture technology required to transform Alita: Battle Angel into a cinematic feature. 

Yet, Cameron felt the technological capabilities at the time (1995) weren’t up to the standards required to create the unique look of Kishiro’s manga. This forced Cameron to shelve the project, and steer his entire attention towards developing an original script and storyline for  another hit: Avatar

After spending close to a decade developing Avatar –along with the required technology to create the world of Pandora- Alita: Battle Angel was postponed again. Of course, Avatar being the revolutionary film that it was, became a global phenomenon, as well as one the most successful films of all times. This success subsequently inspired Cameron to expand on the world he created, by developing sequels to Avatar, thereby putting Alita: Battle Angel on hold again. But along came Spy Kids’ Director Robert Rodriguez, who offered Cameron the opportunity to develop a screenplay with him and take over directorial duties, since they both shared the same passion for Yukito Kishiro’s story. 

Now, with the trailer finally released, people were able to see that the characters are almost identical to the ones in the manga; this is especially true for ‘Alita’, who is presented, for the first time onscreen, in full wide-eyed Manga glory. 

Asked about this unprecedented creative decision, Rodriguez stated that they wanted to respect the source material, by adhering to the original appearance of the characters: “We really wanted to honour that tradition and see that look standing out next to any human character”. He even stated that her look would be addressed in the film: “her origins are discussed in the film and you understand why she looks that way.” 

July sees the release of the film worldwide, and from the reaction to the footage seen so far, Alita: Battle Angel might just become a cinematic event, as it’s the first film to utilize motion capture technology for a Manga adaptation. The long development of the film, along with Cameron and Rodriguez being involved in the project, has led to a deserved hype being built around its release. Alita: Battle Angel has been in development since 1995, and we just can’t wait for its release.