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The Detail In Alita: Battle Angel That Doesn't Make Any Sense

It's been more than a year since the release of Alita: Battle Angel, and fans of the popular manga it was based on still have some questions surrounding the film.

The popular sci-fi action film follows the story of a young cyborg girl, Alita, who was dumped in the trash, and restored to her full strength by a kind cyborg doctor in his clinic. But Alita (Rosa Salazar) has more questions than answers about her origins. She has no memory of who she was before she appeared in the trash, no idea where she came from, and no understanding of the human world she suddenly finds herself in. It's an action-packed two hours, but somehow, by the time the credits roll, many of the questions from the start of the movie have still not been answered.

To name just a few: we still don't know who created Alita the first time around, and we don't understand why, in the flashbacks of her past life, she was attacking the floating city of Zalem. We don't know or understand the significance of the most prominent figure in her flashbacks (played by Michelle Rodriguez), and we have no idea why Alita, who it is strongly implied is infinitely valuable not only for who she is but for her parts, has been dumped in the trash heap of Iron City.

The story of Alita: Battle Angel feels incomplete

The film actually feels almost incomplete when the credits hit the screen, because Alita hasn't even met the actual villain of the story. Despite it becoming clear that the pair know one another from Alita's past life, the connection is never explained, and the movie ends with the distinct impression of a season finale of a television show, complete with cliffhanger, rather than a movie.

This villain is Nova (Edward Norton), who inhabits host bodies through a brain biochip to carry out his evil deeds. He's a mad scientist who lives up on the floating city, and he clearly seems to have a vendetta against Alita. She, in turn, seems just as determined to exact her revenge on him. While this could in part be due to the fact that he ordered her love interest Hugo (Keean Manny Johnson) dead as the couple tried to climb up to Zalem, there is a definite air of some ancient rivalry from her side too, which is later confirmed in her flashbacks.

This is never properly explained in the film, and no one has any idea why Nova — who audiences don't even really meet in his true form in the movie — has a grudge against Alita. She herself doesn't understand the vendetta, but seems to know that he is an enemy from long ago, even if she can't remember why. The only thing that we do understand is that Nova is highly interested in Alita for her parts.

Nova wants Alita for more experimenting

These things are far better explained in the original Japanese manga than in the film. The manga explains that Nova, upon seeing Alita and watching her fight, realizes just how valuable she is. She fights with a forgotten martial arts technique from the war, has a heart — or, more accurately, a core — that could power a city, and she's attached to a body made of Berserker armor, all things that could prove extremely useful for Nova if he can get his hands on her. He does, after all, enjoy both power and his inhumane experiments on bodies.

Alita realizes during her flashbacks of her training with the United Republic of Mars that Nova is an old enemy, when her trainer shows her a hologram of his face and identifies him as "a dragon that needs to be slain." But why this is so is never explored in the film. What it does tell us is that Nova is, well, quite old, given that the battle Alita is remembering in her flashbacks is meant to have taken place centuries ago.

'Sole survivors' on both sides of the war

While Alita is regularly referred to as the sole survivor of the Great War, in actual fact, Nova is also a survivor of that war: the sole survivor who fought on the side of Earth. Alita fought on the side of Mars, and when unexplained hostilities rose between the two formerly amicable planets, she was drawn into the battle, with Nova on the opposing side. The culmination of the battle saw Alita and her platoon attempting to attack Zalem itself with the intent to kill Nova. Why the city had to fall — and why Nova in particular had to be defeated — is also not explained in the film, but the URM was quite determined that it must. Apparently, the man had held quite the grudge for the last 300 years, given his multiple attempts to have Alita killed after she is restored to full strength on Earth.

With the film leaving so many unanswered questions with its cliffhanger ending, fans can only hope there will be more Alita: Battle Angel movies to come that can further explain the backstory. The manga certainly goes into great detail about the war waged between Alita and Nova over the years, with the latter engineering enemy after enemy in an attempt to defeat Alita. The manga series certainly offers a wealth of material for additional movies to adapt; whether that ever happens may very well be up to the fans.