Comic books and their filmic adaptations have traditionally been the domain of geeky young men but a major turnaround has occurred in the past few years with girls seeing their super-heroines packing a powerful punch.
No comic book heroine has turned the comic patriarchy on its head more successfully than Alita: Battle Angel, the protagonist created by Japanese manga artist Yukito Kishiro whose story has been translated into tens of other languages and now been made into an epic live-action film.
The film’s story is set in a post-apocalyptic future – the year 2563 to be exact, after the fall of several ‘sky cities’ – when a female cyborg torso is discovered in a junkyard by a doctor who rebuilds her and helps lead her to her full potential.
Giving her the name of his deceased daughter, Alita, the cyborg protege soon discovers she was a martial art expert in her former life, and is able kick-ass over even the biggest and boldest of her male counterparts and global tyrants.
Alita: Battle Angel has dominated the international box office in its first two weeks, raking in over $260 million in 82 international markets. In China alone, it has amassed $62 million, with producers punting that the film will gross their projected half a billion in a matter of days.
The film was way expensive to make ($200 million, but enough with the number-crunching), and this investment is evident in the impressive CGI throughout. You’ll likely have never seen such slick 3D-0modelling and smoothed-out animation in a movie.
Produced by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez, ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is like ‘Avatar’ on acid meets ‘Sin City’ on steroids.
My only gripe with the film is that while I’m all for a major story in which the female lead kicks butt – figuratively and literally – I do draw the line at a superhero (or heroine) who sees violence as the sole means to the end, and in Alita: Battle Angel there’s so much violence, it truly hurts. I even began to get a bit of a headache with all the clanging sounds of heavy metal by the time the third motorball event kicked in. God forbid should some veteran viewers have a mouthful of fillings. That stuff really hurts when metal cyborgs are smashing into each other non-stop.
Suffice to say, Alita: Battle Angel, like Wonder Woman before it, has helped set the stage for bigger, bolder and brighter comic book adaptations starring unabashedly tough female characters. Expect to see even more epic post-feminist productions from here on.
‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is in cinemas now.