Edward Norton Explains Why He Turned Down Avatar 2 for Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel is one of the more interesting Science Fiction offerings in recent years, but details around a sequel haven’t materialized yet. One of the stars in the film had to make a big choice about being a part of this cast or pursuing a role in another big film. A lot of movie fans just love Edward Norton, and it was probably a shock when he showed up in Alita. He recently told Total Film all about how that cameo came to be. It turns out that he was approached to be in Avatar 2, but it would seem that it just wasn’t in the cards. That film has been in conversation almost from the moment the first one entered theaters. Talks around a sequel would only intensify as the studio continued to rake in the money over the course of that historic run.

Norton began, “I am friends with Jim [Cameron], and actually enormously admire and kind of adore him… So when he wanted me to do something in Avatar 2, I basically told him, ‘If I’m not a Na’vi, I’m not doing it. I’m not being part of the industrial world, coming in to destroy Pandora. I’m either a Na’vi or nothing.’ He was like, ‘OK, maybe in 3, 4 or 5, then.’ In the meantime, he asked, ‘Well, do you know Robert [Rodriguez]?’ I was like, ‘Whatever. Let’s do something. I want to do something with him.’”

Now, Norton isn’t against playing evil characters outright. He’s had to portray both good and evil in doses over the course of his career. For example, in Alita, he played Nova, a character that manga fans will recognize as an immortal mad scientist. He retains that eternal life through hopping consciousnesses from person to person. But, waging war on Pandora was just a bridge too far.

There’s still a chance that being in Alita could deliver Norton the chance to flesh out the character. Fans of the movie are vocal in their desire for a true sequel. It had a $394 million box office earlier this year and that could portend sequels. Now, that decision lies with Disney who will get final say over the fate of the franchise.

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Directed by Robert Rodriguez, produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, Alita: Battle Angel opened in theaters February 14. In Japan and China, the film opened on February 22. The film stars Rosa Salazar (as the titular Alita), Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, and Jackie Earle Haley. ComicBook.com's Brandon Davis reviewed the film earlier this year, and here's an excerpt of his thoughts:

"All things considered, the movie is an immersive escape to another world. Attempts at emotion and human connections are supplemented by amazing visual and practical effects, along with well-crafted action sequences. It's not going to be the next Avatar despite being an equally massive idea, but Alita builds its own world for a second adventure which could get audiences more invested." You can read his full review of Alita: Battle Angel here.