'Mad Max: Fury Road' and 'Batman v Superman' Composer Talks His 'Alita: Battle Angel' Score

Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel hit theaters earlier this week and the film’s composer recently dropped a video that explains the process of creating the movie’s score.

Tom Holkenborg AKA Junkie XL is best known for scoring films such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so it’s no surprise he’d be asked to helm another action/adventure flick.

“As a composer, you are a storyteller,” he explained. “Every time you crawl into the skin of a new character, you write their story. It’s so simple when you see a futuristic movie to go all out on instruments and sound design, but if you take that overboard you might lose the soul of the film.”

Alita: Battle Angel is based on a manga written by Yukito Kishiro called Battle Angel Alita. The film is set in the distant future, where cyborgs and robots are part of everyday life.

The plot is described as follows: “When Alita [Rosa Salazar] awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido [Christoph Waltz], a compassionate doctor.” Eventually, the main character learns that she has “unique fighting abilities” which could be “the key” to protecting Iron City from “deadly and corrupt forces.”

Holkenborg went on to discuss what it was liking creating Alita’s theme.

“When Alita wakes up and we hear her theme for the first time, it’s very slow and very gentle. Alita, she’s lost in a world not knowing who she is. She’s discovering herself. Alita feels vulnerable and at the same time she is this fantastic person that is gonna save Iron City. It’s such a sweet story, but it’s set against a pretty cruel backdrop,” he added.

The composer also discussed the motorball scene in the film, which he describes as “very intense and very heavy.”

When it came down to it, the most important part of creating the score for the James Cameron-produced film was channeling the heart.

“The most challenging part is to really get that heart into the movie. I wanted to create a piece of music for her that felt very emotional, but then at the same time heroic,” Holkenborg said.

“It’s always a puzzle where everything just works with one another. You go for character and you go for something that gives you goosebumps.”


Alita: Battle Angel opened this week to mixed reactions. While the film currently has a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has garnered a 93% audience score. In fact, many are calling it anime’s best live action adaptation.

Alita: Battle Angel is currently playing in theaters everywhere.