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Who Is The Female Cyborg In Alita: Battle Angel's Flashback Scenes?

A fascinating split has emerged between fan opinion and critical consensus on the 2019 film Alita: Battle Angel. Just taking a look at the film's Rotten Tomatoes standings, which show a mediocre response from professional critics but a wildly enthusiastic audience score, demonstrates a clear divide between the two communities, but it goes even further than that. Alita: Battle Angel has inspired a legion of diehard fans who have petitioned heavily to get Disney (now owner of 20th Century) to make a sequel, theatrical or otherwise.

Why is there such a big difference between how the Alita Army feels about Alita: Battle Angel and how the critical community responded to it? While there will always be a gulf between a film's most dedicated fans and professional movie critics, one possible explanation is the amount of backstory director Robert Rodriguez tried to include in his film. CNET's review of Alita: Battle Angel described the plot as "simultaneously too intertwined and frustratingly disjointed." Where fans of the original Alita anime and manga might have connected all of the plotlines, casual viewers may have felt overwhelmed.

An example of this can be seen in the flashback scenes featuring Alita (Rosa Salazar) facing off against an unnamed and uncredited female cyborg, who appears to be her mentor. So just who is the female cyborg in Alita: Battle Angel's flashback scenes? Someone famous, surprisingly.

Michelle Rodriguez plays Gelda, Alita's female cyborg mentor

At various spots in Alita: Battle Angel, the film's excellent fight sequences are interrupted by flashbacks to Alita's former life as a combat cyborg. Those flashbacks show Alita's training in zero-G as well as engagements she took part in, such as one where she scales a structure high above a futuristic city, and another war sequence on the moon.

Accompanying her in those training sessions and missions is a female cyborg whose name the film never mentions and whose relationship, as either a mentor or leader, is never explicitly stated. To make things even more confusing, the character is not listed in the film's actual credits after the movie. However, IMDb reveals that the cyborg's name is named Gelda, and that she's played by an uncredited Michelle Rodriguez.

A ComingSoon interview with director Robert Rodriguez (no relation) explains that Gelda is a highly skilled cyborg warrior born on Mars who trained Alita in the art of Panzer Kunst, the fictional martial arts featured in the film. Robert Rodriguez explained, "There was almost no way to tell this story without including those people. You had to get a sense if she had been trained before by scenes with the Michelle character, you had to see Gelda at some point."

The casting of a high profile actress such as Michelle Rodriguez in what would ultimately be an uncredited role was intended to prepare for an eventual sequel, Robert Rodriguez explained. While that sequel never got a green light after Alita: Battle Angel's middling box office performance, if the Alita Army ever gets their way, Michelle Rodriguez is lined up to play Gelda again.