Why 'Alita: Battle Angel' Is Not a Superhero Movie
In adapting the Battle Angel Alita manga to the big screen, Alita: Battle Angel is not telling a superhero story with its impressively enhanced lead character.
Such a theme was important to those involved with the upcoming film. In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, both Rosa Salazar and Christoph Waltz firmly disagreed with the notion of Alita being a superhero, at all -- and you can check it out in the video above.
"I don't think I play a super hero," Salazar said. Waltz promptly agreed with his co-star. "I think this is a hero, this is a hero's journey," Salazar said. "I don't think that she is a superhero."
Waltz, in fact, was excited about the notion that Alita: Battle Angel is not simply another superhero film. "I think that's what really sets this apart," he said. "Because it's not. It's a human story. The fact that there are, let's say, improved humans, is secondary. It's a human story, and that's really what makes it so approachable, and you can identify."
As the film therefore makes itself relatable for the average moviegoer with no supernatural or enhanced abilities, the actors believe audiences will then be able to connect with the story being told before their eyes. "Well, it makes you feel something, and I wouldn't go to those movies to feel something," Salazar said of blockbuster comic book movies. "I would go to see six square blocks being blown up. That's what I would see."
"It's a lot of fun, if you're into that kind of thing," Waltz added. "But in our case, there's no escape. In the superhero thing, you can lean back and let things destroy each other."
The notion of telling a very human story with Alita: Battle Angel goes right up through the top of production to executive producer Jon Landau, who knows a thing or two about telling emotional stories having brought Titanic to life. "You need to create a character that's real," Landau said, referencing a character an impressive visual effects team worked tirelessly to give a realistic look. "She's a very human type character really in this world. You've established this world where you're using enhanced technologies to make humans do things that they couldn't do before, so why do you create a character like this that has this sort of unique look to her?"
In the end, the physical trait which will make Alita look most different from the everyday person is one which honors its manga source material. "You have to find a reason to make the big eyes play in a scene," Landau admits. "They can't be there just because, 'Well, we decided to make big eyes.' They have to fit the emotions of what she's doing each time. Ultimately, our bar is we're shooting this live with all of the other actors and every time you see Alita in a shot we would have seen Rosa in that same shot with the other actors. That's what we work to."
All that said, Waltz and Salazar don't seem to have any interest in ever joining a universe such as those brought together by Marvel and DC movies. Salazar admits she doesn't have enough of a knowledge base on the comic publishers or their films to pick a favorite while Waltz says he lives in a "totally" different universe than one which would concern him with the titles.
Alita: Battle Angel hits theaters on February 14, 2018.