Having committed to filming multiple sequels to AVATAR for much of the next decade, James Cameron has asked for some help to finally bring his live-action adaptation of “Battle Angel Alita” to the big screen.
The Hollywood legend has long wanted to bring the ’90s Cyberpunk manga to the big screen. Yet, with his responsibilities to the realm of Pandora and the lot of 3D blue-skinned aliens who inhabit it, Cameron has instead brought on cult-favorite Robert Rodriguez to direct sci-fi action epic.
A report from Variety confirmed that Rodriguez is indeed in negotiations to direct the adaptation, which will be retitled as “ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL.” On the decision, Cameron said, “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…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.”
Based on the manga written by Yukito Kishiro in the early ’90s, “Battle Angel” revolves around Alita, a female cyborg, whom awakens in a scrapyard in the 26th century with no recollection of how she got there. What follows is a sprawling devolution into the futuristic cyberpunk world – that has since become iconic to the manga zeitgeist – as Alita awakens her legendary martial-arts skills and becomes a mercenary.
Given the context of the source material, it’s not surprising that Cameron has remained attached to the project over so many years. From his TERMINATOR films, to THE ABYSS, ALIENS, and more, Cameron has continued to explore the human condition as it relates to the advance of technology. Back in 2009, Cameron discussed briefly the importance of AVATAR’s success and how it affected the planned 2-D and 3-D work he believed was necessary to effectively bring BATTLE ANGEL to life. Six years later, the film has finally made some notable progress.
The collaboration between Cameron and Rodriguez may seem offbeat, but it makes a lot more sense when taking into account some of Rodriguez’ most recent work. The Texan filmmaker initially gained acclaim for the independent release of EL MARIACHI, which he famously produced for a meager sum of $12,000. Over the last few years, Rodriguez has expanded his originally action-centric sensibilities and dabbled in more lighthearted fare, such as with the SPY KIDS franchise, which also featured a 3-D installment.
Perhaps of most relevance to undertaking the BATTLE ANGEL job is Rodriguez’s experience directing SIN CITY. Adapted from the gritty black-and-white comics created by Frank Miller (who also served as co-director on the films), Rodriguez developed a creative process which relied highly on green screen technology and visual effects to perfectly reflect the atmosphere Miller had created on the page. It’s likely Rodriguez was selected for the job in part due to his experience with SIN CITY, with Cameron appreciating the filmmaker’s ability to utilize CGI as a way to enhance the material, rather than overwhelm it.
BATTLE ANGEL isn’t the only American Manga-to-Movie adaptation on the horizon. Check out our recent take on the problems the AKIRA adaptation has faced over the years in development hell, in addition to the prospect of whether or not it will ever see the light of day.
The BATTLE ANGEL film, however, seems more like a reality than ever before. Is Robert Rodriguez a good choice to direct? Which actress would you like to see take on the titular role? Sound off in the comments or let us know on Twitter!