Before Avatar hit theaters – obliterating box office records left and right – James Cameron had tentative plans to press ahead sooner (rather than later) with an adaptation of the popular Battle Angel Alita franchise. That sci-fi series originated as a Japanese comic book/manga created by Yukito Kishiro back in 1990, eventually spawning anime and video game spinoffs, along with a prequel manga series titled Ashen Victor (among other related products).
When not diving into the Mariana Trench or overseeing the 3D post-conversion of Titanic, Cameron has devoted most of his time over the past couple years to developing a pair of Avatar sequels – which won’t be reaching theaters for at least another 2-3 years. Hence, there’s been a big question mark looming over the head of the filmmaker’s big screen treatment of Battle Angel Alita.
In a recent interview with MTV, Cameron explained why he gave Avatar 2 priority over a Battle Angel Alita movie:
“It was a coin toss at that point, but I see the good the ‘Avatar’ franchise could do in terms of keeping a world audience cognizant of our relationship with nature, but in an entertainment context. So, ultimately, I feel there is more good to be done there than with ‘Battle Angel’, [which is] just a great, kickass story.”
For context, here’s a semi-official description of the setup for Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita manga:
When Doc Ido, a talented cyberphysician, finds Alita’s head in a junk heap, she has lost all memory of her past life. But when he reconstructs her, she discovers her body still instinctively remembers the Panzer Kunst, the most powerful cyborg fighting technique ever known. In the postapocalyptic world of the Scrapyard, as the secrets of Alita’s past unfold, each day is a struggle for survival.
Most of the sci-fi concepts and tropes featured in Battle Angel Alita are all the rage in the Western entertainment industry nowadays, as evidenced by the similarities between the property and series like The Hunger Games – or such impending “updates” on older science fiction movies like Total Recall and RoboCop, to name a few – never mind a good chunk of the sci-fi literature and cinema that’s been released over the past two decades.
That’s all to say: Battle Angel Alita fans surely have their own strong opinions about how the franchise is superior to many of its peers and imitators, but Cameron has a point when he (indirectly) hints that his film adaptation could get lost in the fray, given the shared qualities. In fact, the project could attract much criticism for being “unoriginal,” similar to those which’ve hounded Avatar (deserved or not).
Cameron did make it clear to MTV he’s far from giving up on the Battle Angel Alita movie, saying the project “would have to be pried out of my cold dead fingers, but, on the other hand, I’m not gonna – I don’t wanna take it to my grave, either.” So, the film could very well still be made by Cameron at some point in the next, say, five years – and, for all we know, the sci-fi landscape could be vastly different by the time that happens.
In the meantime, we will continue to keep you up-to-date on the status of Battle Angel Alita.