This article contains spoilers for Alita: Battle Angel.
Alita: Battle Angel has been in cinemas for a couple of weeks now and, whatever your take on the film as a whole, it certainly looks the part – taking place in a richly detailed dystopian future world inspired by the pages of Yukito Kishiro’s manga series.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and written/produced by James Cameron in what the latter calls a “creative collaboration”, Alita is a film that’s been 20 years in the making. Cameron wrote the first draft in 1999 before getting waylaid by Avatar and its upcoming sequels, but he found in Rodriguez a kindred spirit who could help him finally realise his vision.
Clearly, making a film of this scale is a huge undertaking, requiring hundreds of artists and designers – both physical and digital – to bring Iron City and its inhabitants to life. And now, thanks to new book Alita: Battle Angel – The Art And Making Of The Movie, we’ve got a glimpse into that process. Here, Den of Geek shares some concept art and behind-the-scenes shots from the movie for your viewing pleasure.
This early concept art shows Alita being fitted with her “professional” Motorball body, which she uses to compete in the battle royal-style sport – a mash-up of roller derby, basketball and Robot Wars.
This early drawing shows the street life of Iron City – the settlement in which the majority of the film is set – complete with some of its cybernetically enhanced residents. You can see the utopian sky city of Zalem floating above.
This concept art shows the lab of Dr Dyson Ido (played by Christoph Waltz), a cyborg scientist who carries out pro bono cybernetic surgeries using spare parts he’s scavenged from Iron City’s sprawling junkyard.
Grewishka (played by Watchmen‘s Jackie Earle Haley) is a cyborg assassin who works for the mysterious Nova and who becomes one of Alita’s deadliest enemies. This shows the detail of his cyber “core”, which is transplanted into a gargantuan, kitted-out robot body. Not someone you want to mess with.
An early drawing of the grand old cathedral that serves as the headquarters of the hunter-warriors, where they go to collect their bounties. This is the location of several key sequences throughout the film.
Some of Alita’s Motorball rivals take a much more vehicular form, as these concept drawings of Juggernaut (above, top) and Gangsta (above, bottom) show.
This is concept art of URM (United Republics of Mars) warships during the moon battle between the forces of Earth and the Martians during The Great War – seen briefly in Alita’s flashbacks during the film.
Not all of the film’s cyborg characters are full CG – some are a complex blend of VFX and live-action footage. Here’s a look at Eiza Gonzalez’s razor-armed spider-bot Nyssiana and Jeff Fahey’s dog-loving hunter-warrior McTeague during filming, before their CGI makeovers.
Alita: Battle Angel – The Art And Making Of The Movie, by Abbie Bernstein, is out now from Titan Books.