Jackie Earle Haley has joined the cast of Alita: Battle Angel to be produced by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It’s based on one of my all time favorite comic book series published by Viz here in North America. For years I’ve been waiting for Cameron to make the film adaptation of it and it was one of two properties in the works after Titanic — the other being Avatar which won out.
Originally, Battle Angel was supposed to follow Avatar but it did so well Cameron wanted to go back and make two sequels. Considering the amount of time we’ve been waiting for those sequels and that they’ve expanded to four of them it looked like Battle Angel would never be made.
Instead Cameron passed the film onto Desperado / Sin City director Robert Rodriguez. I’m still uncertain if this was the best move becauseRodriguez can make a great action film but he’s never really proven himself capable at exploring character. Self-discovery is a huge theme in Battle Angel.
The story is about a young woman cyborg who is found in a dystopian junkyard without any of her memories. The only thing she really remembers is her ability to fight and eventually becomes a hunter-warrior chasing down criminal cyborgs.
According to The Hollywood Reporter actor Jackie Earle Haley has been cast as a monstrous cyborg in a villainous role. I assume he will be one of the criminals but it’s also possible he could play a rival hunter-warrior. He joins Maze Runner’s Rosa Salazar who will play the titular character and Christoph Waltz as her mentor Doctor Dyson Ido that finds her in the scrap pile.
The original comic series covered nine trade paperbacks but was hastily wrapped up due to the author/artist’s health. He went back and rewrote the final chapter into a further 19 trade paperbacks called Battle Angel Alita: Last Order and is currently writing a third sequel series so there’s a lot of material to work from.
I do know that Cameron loved third and forth trades of the original series which featured gladiator-like cyborg roller-derby but I personally wouldn’t mind if they skipped over that. The Last Order series wasn’t as good if you ask me but there are some interesting aspects of it that could be included into later films — and I’m really hoping for a series of films.
Alita: Battle Angel will premiere in theaters on July 20, 2018.