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.
The Dog Actually Survives
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.50317Is this cool?
Robert Rodriguez Voices A Single Line
During the Motorball scene where every contestant attempts to take out Alita, she removes the head of one of her would-be assassins. As his head lies on the track, he says something to the effect of, "Oh crap."
Interestingly enough, that line isn't uttered by the actor portraying the character but rather director Robert Rodriguez himself. During an Alamo Drafthouse early screening, Rodriguez admitted he'd said the line during some early low-graphics art work to prepare for the film. His version just happened to be better than anything else they'd recorded, so the team decided to roll with it.4367Is this cool?
Several Characters Mention Panzer Kunst
Throughout Alita, several characters reference a fighting style called "Panzer Kunst." This is an entirely original fighting method invented by Yukito Kishiro for the manga Alita is based on.
Panzer Kunst originated on Mars as a way to fight in zero or low-gravity situations, and is apparently extremely effective against cyborgs. It's Alita's primary fighting style throughout both the manga and the film.47619Is this cool?
Dr. Chiren And Dr. Ido Are Both From Zalem
It can be hard to catch given how briefly it's mentioned in Alita, but Dr. Ido surgically removed a marking on his forehead that proved he was originally from Zalem. This is important because he doesn't do this in the anime.
It also means that Dr. Chiren is originally from Zalem too, given how she still has the purple marking indicating her origin. They both came down to Iron City after their daughter became ill.43713Is this cool?