Alita: Battle Angel released in theaters on February 14 to dubious acclaim. No one can deny that the visuals were stunning. The faces of the cyborgs and the action sequences truly make you appreciate what modern special effects are capable of. However, the narrative of the film suffers from a run-time that can in no way encompass the plot of the manga it was based on.
Audiences are left with endless questions, especially about the titular main character of the movie, Alita. Her motivations are barely comprehensible, and her past is one giant enigma. Read on if you want to go over every question about Alita’s past the movie left unanswered.
10 WHO MADE ALITA?
As you can probably guess just from watching the trailer of the film, Alita is a cyborg, a human brain encased within a robot body. Not considering the logistics of how this would work, no hint is given about who is responsible for crafting Alita into the cyborg head we first meet her as in the movie.
In the Battle Angel manga, Alita was revealed to have spent most of her life as a cyborg, reaching such a mechanized lifestyle by the age of three. She was created as part of a plot to overthrow a Martian Princess by a man known as Baron Muster. Perhaps it is for the best that the movie did not delve into the complexities of Alita’s creation.
9 WHO WAS ALITA BEFORE SHE BECAME A CYBORG?
Part of Alita’s charm in the movie comes from the fact that she has no idea how to handle the new world she finds herself thrust in. She has no memories of her past life. As such, there are quite a few hilarious fish-out-of-water moments for Alita as she figures out how things work.
However, she never truly learns who she used to be before she woke up in Dr. Ido’s clinic. In the manga, we find out that Alita used to be a person called Yoko. The movie positively refuses to give us these kinds of clues about Alita’s past and keeps things vague for the most part.
8 WHO WAS THE FEMALE CYBORG IN ALITA’S FLASHBACKS?
Alita would receive brief glimpses of her former life in the middle of battles. These flashbacks were actually quite spectacular, depicting epic fights in zero-g. One female cyborg played by Michelle Rodriguez features prominently in these flashbacks.
It appears as if this female cyborg was responsible for Alita’s warrior training. Her name is never spoken, her relationship to Alita is never outright stated, and her appearance in the movie feels nonsensical as a result. In the manga, we learn that she is called Gelda, and she took Alita in when she was young, training her in the ways of Panzer Kunst.
7 WHY DID ALITA ATTACK ZALEM?
In one of Alita’s flashbacks, we see her and a platoon of fellow cyborgs attempting to climb up to Zalem, the infamous city in the sky. Battle cries are heard. One of those cries calls for the end of Zalem.
Given that Zalem is still standing (i.e. floating) hundreds of years later when Alita is discovered in the scrap heap beneath it, we can all assume that Alita and her compatriots failed in their objective. However, we never find out why they were attacking that particular city in the first place. The Terraforming Wars between Mars and Earth are gone into greater detail in the manga.
6 DID ALITA HARM EARTHLINGS?
It is strongly hinted at in the film that Alita fought for the United Republic of Mars during “the Great War.” We see her fight plenty of cyborg opponents, but we never really see her go up against a straight-up, Earth-born human. If she and her war buddies did participate in the fight against Earth, wouldn’t she have gone up against them at some point?
The fact of the matter is we never see if Alita did or didn’t eliminate humans as part of her role in the war. We’re sure that some of her later human friends would not have been too pleased to know if she did attack humans with her Berserker body in the past.
5 WHAT HAPPENED TO THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF MARS?
An infuriating omission from the movie’s plot is any information regarding the fate of the United Republic of Mars. The Terraforming Wars are described with great detail in the manga, but any mention of “the Great War” from the film is vague and obtuse.
We are left with no hint at what the fate of the United Republic of Mars could have been or at what point Alita got separated from their forces. Alita’s entire work relationship with the URM is left clouded by her lack of memory. Since this is a point that deviates greatly from the manga, we can only guess what happened to the people of Mars.
4 HOW DOES NOVA KNOW ALITA?
It is heavily implied in the film that the villain, Nova, knows who Alita is. He makes several remarks that hint at this knowledge, and he spends the entire movie planning to end her existence once he is made aware of it. Alita even seems to realize toward the end of the film that she knows him in return. But the movie ends before it is revealed how the two know each other.
The story closes with a final shot of Alita, about to win a match of Motorball, pointing at Zalem. She clearly intends to travel there and confront Nova, but we get no satisfaction from such a confrontation because the end credits start rolling immediately afterward.
3 DID ALITA EVER LIVE ON ZALEM?
Alita’s head and upper torso are found in the junkyard of Iron City. Dr. Ido, the kindly cyborg doctor with a clinic nearby, takes her in and gives her a new body. Later on, when speculation about Alita’s past is brought up, it is theorized by several characters that she used to live on the remote, floating city of Zalem.
The junkyard where she was found lies directly beneath Zalem. It is logical to assume that she was dumped there from the floating city. However, given what little we know about Zalem, Alita would not have been dumped so casually if anybody had known what she was.
2 HOW DID ALITA END UP IN THE TRASH?
Alita is no bit of spoiled food to be casually thrown in the trash. She is a relic of the United Republic of Mars, a piece of effective war machinery. Even in her damaged, defunct state, she should not have been tossed aside so lightly. And since Alita is a product of war, she would not have knowingly been sent away from Zalem in the first place, tossed down to the Iron City junkyard.
The question of why she was found there remains unanswered in the movie. Both the audience and Alita never find out why she was abandoned. It is a head-scratcher of a situation that will only be solved if a sequel gets released.
1 WHY DID NO ONE BOTHER TO STEAL ALITA’S HEART?
Alita’s heart is a special piece of equipment, not just because it is her heart but because it has immense potential as a source of energy. It is because of the power of her heart that Alita is able to accomplish extraordinary feats in battle. Even if her body was sent to be thrown out with junk, how could no one on Zalem recognize the value of keeping her heart?
The United Republic of Mars had a reputation for superb technological advancement. If Alita was brought down while on Zalem, her heart would have been a prize worthy of holding onto. We can only assume why her heart was left in her body.