James Cameron has been threatening an adaptation of the 1990 Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita since before Avatar hit screens in 2009. However, with the king of the world choosing to spend 20 years developing and making Avatar movies (recently announcing a fourth sequel just around the corner – December 2023), he handed the directorial reins to fellow auteur Robert Rodriguez, known as a one-man filmmaking army who has anywhere from three-to-30 projects percolating at any given time.
However, what Cameron wants, Cameron gets and this adaptation, envisioned as a tentpole franchise-starter, appears to finally be getting underway (despite budget issues preventing the studio from greenlighting it just yet). Casting of the lead heroine taking place currently and THR has the scoop on the four actresses who have auditioned:
- Zendaya, one of the female leads of next summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Maika Monroe, star of It Follows who takes over for Mae Whitman as the former POTUS’ (Bill Pullman) daughter in Independence Day: Resurgence
- Rose Salazar, actress from The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials and the upcoming CHiPs
- Bella Thorne, Zendaya’s co-star on the TV show Shake It Up! who also appeared in last December’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
As of right now, Zendaya is supposedly the frontrunner, but scheduling could be an issue. The casting decision is expected next month.
Cameron dipped in his toe in the anime-adaptation world with the 2000-02 TV series Dark Angel, which was Jessica Alba’s big break. The report says the goal here is to do something similar – create a star-making vehicle for a badass woman. Here’s the synopsis THR provided for the series (seriously, why are so many female protagonists in anime robots? Please answer in the comments).
Alita: Battle Angel tells of a female cyborg that is discovered in a scrapyard by a scientist. With no memory of her previous life except her deadly martial-arts training, the woman becomes a bounty hunter, tracking down criminals. The action-adventure story is meant to serve as a backdrop to themes of self-discovery and the search for love.