'Alita: Battle Angel' Goes To The Uncanny Valley, Struggles To Find Any Asian People There
So you know how Hollywood keeps trying to adapt manga and anime properties by stripping them of any Asian identity?
Anyway, here’s the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel:
The film has been a pet project of James Cameron’s for awhile, but he shopped out the director duties to Robert Rodriguez (probably because those next dozen Avatar films aren’t going to just make themselves). The film stars Rosa Salazar as Alita, along with a roster of familiar faces: Christoph Waltz, Jackie Earle Haley, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein and… Lana Condor, who played Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse. When I clicked through to the “Full Cast & Crew” on IMDb I was able to find a few other actors with Asian heritage, but it was a whole process and Lana was clearly the most prominent one.
I remember watching the anime when I was a teen, and I loved it. And to be fair, it’s not super clear how many of the characters even are Asian, based on how they’re depicted. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where Alita is discovered in a scrap heap. She’s a cyborg with no memory of her past, but some incredible fighting skills she can use for good. The film takes pains to recreate the look of Alita on the page by (somewhat alarmingly) enhancing her eyes to ridiculous proportions. But here’s the thing: if you’re creating this futuristic universe, and it’s based on a Japanese property… is it really so difficult to just hire a couple of prominent Asian-American actors to join your already diverse cast?
On the plus side, I still really love the Spy Kids movies so here’s hoping the team-up of Rodriguez and Cameron produces something visually astonishing (despite THOSE EYES). Alita: Battle Angel arrives in theaters July 20th, 2018.