Production has been under way on the highly-anticipated Alita: Battle Angel for the past few months, with filming coming to an end last week. While a number of cast members were announced last year, there is one mystery role that hasn't been announced until today, with Michelle Rodriguez being cast as Gelda from the original manga by Yukito Kishiro. It remains to be seen how faithful this movie version of Gelda is to the source material, but in the original manga, Gelda was described as a "slim cyborg warrior."
Entertainment Weekly broke the news, although it remains unclear if there are other mystery characters that haven't been announced at this time. Michelle Rodriguez joins a cast that includes Rosa Salazar as the title character, alongside Christoph Waltz, Eiza Gonzalez, Jackie Earle Haley, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jennifer Connolly and Lana Condor. This project has been in development for several years, with James Cameron originally set to direct, before he handed over the directorial reins to Robert Rodriguez.
Set in the 26th century, the story takes place 300 years after a societal collapse caused by a major war. But in that society, it's a technological dark age following a pinnacle of achievement far, far beyond where we are right now. It's a post-apocalyptic world from a very high level with cyborg technology as just a way of life. People are augmented a lot as workers and so on, with cyborgs becoming an everyday part of life in this day and age.
The main character Alita is a cyborg. She has an organic human brain, and she looks like she's about fourteen years old. She has a completely artificial body and she's lost her memory, when she's found in a wreckage and she's reconstituted by a cyber-surgeon who becomes her surrogate father. Robert Rodriguez directs from a screenplay written by James Cameron and his Avatar co-writer Laeta Kalogridis, based on the manga novels created by Yukito Kishiro. 20th Century Fox has already issued a July 20, 2018 release date, giving the filmmakers nearly a year and a half for post-production. The film will go up against an untitled DreamWorks Animation project, but it also falls between Hotel Transylvania 3 and The Nun on July 13, 2018 and Mission: Impossible 6 on July 27, 2018.
This movie reunites Michelle Rodriguez with James Cameron, after she starred in his 2009 record-breaking blockbuster Avatar, and also reunites the actress with her Machete and Machete Kills director Robert Rodriguez. Michelle Rodriguez will next be seen reprising her role as Letty in Universal's The Fate of the Furious, in theaters April 14, and voicing Smurfstorm in Sony's Smurfs: The Lost Village, in theaters March 31, 2017. Hopefully we'll learn more about Alita: Battle Angel soon, and with production now wrapped, it remains to be seen when the first trailer may arrive.