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The Truth About The Damascus Blade In Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel, like most post-apocalyptic stories, features inhabitants who long for the old days. You know – pre apocalypse. The movie takes place in Iron City, a destroyed world that's below Zalem, the last sky city left intact after The Fall — a global calamity caused by the aftermath of the Great War between the Imperium and the United Republic of Mars. The story centers around Alita (Rosa Salazar) and features some pretty badass future technology — mostly pieces from before said Fall. One such piece of lost technology comes in the form of an infamous weapon, the Damascus Blade.

Although our heroine was apparently discarded by the people of Zalem and picked up in a scrapyard by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), down below she becomes a Motorball champion (think of it like roller derby, only with slightly more severe injuries). She's also the best fighter in the film, a notion that squares with the movie's manga source material. In the course of the film, Alita uses those fighting abilities to "win" the Damascus Blade from the amoral bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein).

The first (and perhaps only) cinematic installment of Alita: Battle Angel ends with Alita becoming the champion of Motorball and pointing the Damascus Blade up at Zalem. Viewers learn that the blade can cut through virtually anything, a boast delivered by the self-proclaimed keeper of the legendary weapon before he loses that title to Alita. Aside from that minor tidbit of intel, the movie doesn't go too deep into the blade's overall history; these details were presumably held over for the aspirational sequels. Fortunately, we have the original manga to fill in some of the gaps. Here's the truth about the Damascus Blade in Alita: Battle Angel.

The Damascus Blade is Alita's signature weapon

In the manga, Alita's Damascus Blade looks like two separate blades that attach to her wrists during Motorball. The weapon eventually joins into a single sword similar in appearance to what we see in the film. During Alita's original manga run, the blade is presumably lost or destroyed at the story's conclusion. However, that destiny was altered by the subsequent Last Order, in which Nova (Edward Norton) recovers the Damascus Blade. He then uses the damaged weapon as a component for Alita's Imaginos Body, further building the link between the blade and its wielder. Alita's signature weapon has a similar appearance to Damascus steel, hence the name. Given the weapon's imperfections, it's said to be a representation of Alita herself — unimaginably tough, but riddled with beautiful imperfections.

As Zapan explains, the blade is honed to a monomolecular edge — the sharpest honing physically possible. As a result, it slices armor like butter. It was forged before The Fall using the lost art of URM metallurgy. The blade is eventually attached to the arm of Alita's Motorball body. The weapon can receive plasma (powerful energy) as a power source, which is likely why it turns blue when Alita raises it toward Zalem at the end of the movie.

The cyberpunk-action film ends on a cliffhanger, even though there's plenty more manga to adapt. We could certainly use a sequel (or two) to unpack more of this rich world — including the blade.