Alita: Battle Angel is the kind of film that really couldn't exist even just a few years ago. The thrilling 2019 live-action adaptation of one of the greatest manga comics of all time leans heavily on advanced computer technology to bring the story to life and hide numerous Alita: Battle Angel Easter eggs.
Alita herself is strangely robotic and alien, but director Robert Rodriquez and producer James Cameron's meticulous attention to detail make the character look and feel completely real. That same attention to small details conceals several references in Alita a less engaged production team might never have bothered with.
The film hearkens to both the original manga as well as the two-part Battle Angel anime to craft a story that honors both while still making something entirely new and different. Let's dig in and see which references and homages you may have missed while fixated on the sheer spectacle of Alita: Battle Angel.
In case you arrived late to Alita, the beginning of the movie transforms the traditional 20th Century Fox logo into a 26th Century Fox logo.
Alita takes place during the 26th century after a massive war has devastated Earth.
The year before Alita was released, Rosa Salazar claimed she talked her way into portraying not just Alita but also an additional background character. This presumably could make sense considering Alita is a fully CGI character.
It's not yet clear which scenes Salazar plays an extra in.
For 99% of Alita, we only see Nova through other characters. Because he is located in Zalem, Nova takes physical control of cyborgs like Vector or Grewishka to communicate with underlings in Iron City. At the very end of the film, Nova is revealed on screen as Edward Norton. If the movie is successful enough for a sequel, it seems guaranteed Norton would play a much larger role.
Interestingly, the filmmakers partially cast Norton because he sort of looks like producer James Cameron.
One of the biggest emotional moments in the film is the loss of Alita's little dog friend. It is a turning point for Alita and leads to the infamous moment where she paints her face with the dog's blood. The scene mirrors similar ones in the manga and the anime.
There's good news for fans of the film, however: the dog actually survives, as Robert Rodriguez revealed in a Q&A session during an early screening at the Alamo Drafthouse. This is a world where anybody can be attached to a robot body as long as their brain is still functional.
Rodriguez claims they filmed a scene where the dog wanders around with a new robot body.