After books, comics, video games, and more have continued to receive live-action adaptations, there appears to be a new wave of movies being based on Japanese manga. Ghost in the Shell could go a long way in determining how successful this "genre" is domestically, but the true test will be to see how international markets respond. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox is not waiting to see how well Ghost in the Shell does to get a jump on the next potential franchise.
Alita: Battle Angel is the next manga set to get the live-action treatment, and in a premise that is slightly similar to Ghost in the Shell, will follow the titular young female hero Alita (played by Rosa Salazar). The movie is set to be a high-budget, CGI heavy adaptation, which makes sense with James Cameron being attached as a producer. However, with filming reportedly complete, a surprise cast member who worked with Cameron on Avatar has joined the project.
EW has revealed that Michelle Rodriguez has secretly had a role in Alita for sometime, where she will be playing Gelda; a character described as a slim cyborg warrior. She does not have much interaction with Alita in the manga, but instead helps other young characters, such as Yoko and Erica. Neither of these characters are as of this time confirmed to appear in the film version, so how the Fast & Furious star's role factors into the movie remains unclear.
While it is difficult to determine how Gelda will be used in the movie, she will more than likely serve as a ally to Alita. Rodriguez has proved time and time again that she is a capable action star, so casting her as cyborg warrior seems to be a perfect fit. Even though this is not Cameron's movie (as Robert Rodriguez is actually directing), her ties with the Avatar director could have factored in with her getting the job.
Michelle's addition should be the final casting announcement to come out, with EW saying that filming is now complete. Her involvement adds to an impressive cast that also features Moonlight's Mahershala Ali, Deadpool's Ed Skrein, Watchmen's Jackie Earle Haley, and Jennifer Connelly in various antagonist roles. Not all hope will be lost for Alita however, as Christoph Waltz should be a friendly presence alongside Rodriguez.
Casting aside, most people will have to wait for the first trailer to become acquainted with the property. However, the film is not due to hit theaters for over a year and will use that time to complete all of the VFX required. If the response to Ghost in the Shell is favorable and Alita can deliver a solid first trailer sometime later this year, Fox could have a unique and popular hit on their hands.
Alita: Battle Angel hits theaters July 20th, 2018.