The following story is a big old spoiler for Alita: Battle Angel. It’s literally the final shot of the movie, and it sets up major movement for potential sequels. Stop reading now if you don’t like diving into spoilers for movies that are making their way to theaters.
Nova has been the evil force pulling all of the strings throughout Alita: Battle Angel. But because Nova has the ability to assume people’s bodies and communicate through them, we never get a look at the villain’s face until the movie has just about reached its conclusion. Nova is very interested in Alita (Rosa Salazar), a warrior whose core has been discovered in a trash heap outside Iron City. It seems Alita has a complicated past, one that likely involves Nova, and the antagonist thought he was rid of her.
He is not.
The issue with Alita: Battle Angel is that it ends on a cliffhanger tease for a movie that might not happen. Throughout the course of this film, Alita is finding out who she is, and where she came from. By the end of this movie, she has ascended to a position of leadership – particularly through her skills at Motorball, a popular pastime in Iron City – and she recognizes Nova as the next step in her destiny. She points to the sky, where she knows Nova is looking down on her:
And then the movie cuts to black. See you in Alita 2: Motorball Boogaloo!
As for the casting of Edward Norton in the pivotal role of Nova, Robert Rodriguez recently spoke with Digital Spy and admitted:
I tried to find somebody who had a real intelligence to them. We went through a list of people that we could find who were worth bothering to do this, because there's no dialogue or anything. It's really for the setup of, if there was a sequel. We want to put someone here who we would want in a sequel. So it's kind of tough casting to do. We both knew Ed. neither of us had worked with Ed. But Ed's really smart. Like Jim [Cameron], he's very, very smart. I've known him for a number of years. I always thought of him as being similar – not looking so much like Jim, but similar. I can see why they were friends. I can just see them geeking out. So when you put the white hair on, it was like, 'Yeah, he kind of looks like Jim. I think that looks good'. That was pretty funny.
Now it will be up to audiences to decide if they like Alita: Battle Angel enough to warrant a continuation in the story. The movie is adapted from a beloved manga created by Yukito Kishiro. There’s a lot more story to tell, if this movie makes money and finds its audience. We’ll know once Alita opens on February 14.