After years in development hell, Alita: Battle Angel, the James Cameron-produced cyberpunk action blockbuster directed by Robert Rodriguez and based on Yukito Kishiro's source material finally arrived in 2019. Co-written by Cameron and starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, and Keean Johnson, among others, the movie proved to be Rodriguez's biggest financial hit and it has earned a fanbase. Is that enough to justify making a sequel? Well, it's hard to say. While the principle players involved in the original movie are game to do another movie, or possibly even a few sequels, the future of Alita: Battle Angel 2 is left uncertain. There are several big questions still left unanswered. Let's explore them.
Is Alita: Battle Angel 2 Actually Happening?
Around the time Alita: Battle Angel came into theaters, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez expressed interest in making a sequel. The cliffhanger ending suggested a continued narrative, perhaps even a franchise. Nevertheless, Cameron admits that the filmmakers were focused solely on the one film at the time, though they had ideas for what the sequel(s) could be. Cameron suggested that he wanted to turn Alita into a trilogy of movies, and the first film would serve as the launch pad for future installments, particularly with noteworthy cameos sprinkled throughout (which will be discussed more in-depth later on). Furthermore, in an interview to promote Alita's release, Cameron claimed the second and third movie could be subtitled Fallen Angel and Avenging Angel. But when it comes to a sequel, there are several complicated factors at play. One such complication would be the Fox merger.
What Could Prevent Alita: Battle Angel 2 From Happening?
When it comes to the possibility of a sequel, Alita: Battle Angel does have a few things going for it. It made a decent profit, it has a loyal fanbase, and it has big names involved —including James Cameron (of course) — to drive up interest. So, what might prevent Alita: Battle Angel 2 from getting made? The short answer is Disney. In an interview, Christoph Waltz suggested that the Mouse House now holds the reins on any potential Alita sequels, and while he would be interested in making more Alita movies, he's not sure if Disney will sign off on them. Certainly, that'll come as disappointing news to the folks who fell in love with the original — though it doesn't necessarily mean it's officially dead. After all, they made a TRON sequel years later...
Which Alita: Battle Angel Stars Will Return?
There's no doubt that Rosa Salazar is interested in playing the part of Alita. She has spoken openly about her desire to play the character again, in one or more sequels, although she hasn't heard any recent developments about a potential sequel happening anytime soon. Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, Christoph Waltz is down for a sequel, expressing his disappointment that it hasn't been jumpstarted yet. And based on his ominous cameo at the end of Alita: Battle Angel, there's definitely a good chance that Edward Norton could make a significant appearance in this sequel. Also, the brief cameos from stars like Jai Courtney and Michelle Rodriguez in last year's sci-fi blockbuster suggests that their characters will appear in a sequel.
What Would Be The Plot of Alita: Battle Angel 2?
At the end of Alita: Battle Angel, our title character lost her love, Hugo, but she gained a newfound sense of independence and self-understanding. She became the unlikely champion of Motorball, and she has set her sights on Nova, played briefly by Edward Norton, where she plans to return to the city of Zalem with big intentions in mind. Certainly, that gives us a blueprint for what the sequel might entail. There's no doubt that Norton's appearance is there to tease a bigger role in a proposed sequel, and he'll serve as the main antagonistic figure in this potential sequel. We'll also get a few more answers regarding Alita's past, such as what happened between The Fall and being found Iron City's trash heap, and what Nova wants from Alita.
Would Robert Rodriguez Return To Direct Alita: Battle Angel 2?
While James Cameron was vigorously involved with Alita: Battle Angel for two or more decades before it finally got off the ground, it wasn't until he finally let go of the project and let Robert Rodriguez take over directing duties that it finally came into fruition. Apparently, the Sin City director got the gig after he asked Cameron what was happening with the project. While Rodriguez has worked on several special effects-heavy movies as a filmmaker, Alita: Battle Angel became his biggest, most expensive movie by a long shot, and it also became one of his most financially successful to boot. When it comes to the possibility of a sequel, Rodriguez has talked about it eagerly, noting that they only tackled maybe 200 of the 600 pages he was given by Cameron. Nevertheless, it's unclear if he'll direct any sequels.
Could James Cameron Direct Any Alita Sequels?
While James Cameron didn't direct Alita: Battle Angel, the Academy Award-winning storyteller played a heavy hand in the filmmaking process. The Japanese cyberpunk manga series was first brought to Cameron's attention in the 1990s by Guillermo Del Toro, and the Titanic director first attempted to bring the movie to life back in the early '00s. The project was stalled for a good while, notably with Cameron staying busy with 2009's Avatar, but the director stayed attached to the project for close to two decades before he opted to hand over directing reigns to Robert Rodriguez as he focused solely on the Avatar sequels. While Cameron didn't direct Alita, he stay involved as a screenwriter and producer, and he certainly played a big role in its final execution. Which raises the question, will James Cameron direct any of the potential Alita sequels?
While James Cameron definitely has his hands full with three Avatar sequels in the works, once he is finished with those movies, he'll be a free agent again. Therefore, he could, theoretically, be available to direct any future installments of Alita. After all, Cameron has previously directed Aliens and Piranha II: The Spawning (even though he disowns this one). So, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he would direct a sequel to a movie he didn't helm the first time around. And considering how hands-on he was with the first Alita movie, and how much it bares his influence, he's clearly very passionate about this property. Also, since it'll take a while for these proposed sequels to come into fruition, he'll likely have the luxury of time at his disposable when it comes to signing off on this potential directing gig. Chalk it up to a maybe?
If Alita: Battle Angel 2 Gets Greenlit, How Long Will We Have To Wait For It To Release?
Considering that it took more than 20 years for Alita: Battle Angel to go from concept to completion, there's a good chance that any potential sequels might take a little while. James Cameron is famous for being very meticulous and plan-orientated when it comes to his movies, even the ones he does not direct himself, and that'll certainly be the case here. After all, the Avatar sequels will come out close to a decade-and-a-half after the first film made big money in theaters. If Alita: Battle Angel 2 or 3 (or more) were to be made, it'll likely take a long, long time — and that's without Disney's resistance.
Would The Alita Sequels Follow The Source Material Or Forge Their Own Path?
As far as its relationship to Yukito Kishiro's original source material. Alita: Battle Angel is faithful when it comes to the look and general aesthetics of the original anime. However, there were key differences made. The backstory of the main character was changed, as well as her relationship to the different personalities in her life. That meant the movie wasn't an entirely clean transition from text-to-screen. Meanwhile, Nova wasn't found inside the anime, and his appearance in the manga was more complicated than simply an antagonistic figure. As such, depending on the direction they go with Nova in the proposed sequel, it would seem that the sequels will forge their own path separate to the manga and anime, though it's possible they'll once again take their own liberties while also following either or both in key ways.
Certainly, these are just a few of the questions that Alita: Battle Angel fans have at the moment. With the potential franchise possibilities currently in an ongoing state of flux, notably with the actors and producers themselves uncertain about what might happen next, we might not be get any definitive answers in the near future. Nevertheless, the possibility remains open, notably with a number of creative involved expressing interest. We'll continue to follow any potential developments with any Alita: Battle Angel sequels as they arise. Do you think Alita: Battle Angel 2 will ever happen? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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