When Alita: Battle Angel was created, director Robert Rodriguez, author / producer James Cameron and the artists who designed the film took some bold steps when it came to the appearance of the title protagonist. One of the earliest concepts for designing films was the idea that she would have eyes that are significantly larger than those of a normal person – a recall of the look of Alita in the manga comic from which she came.
Of course, such courageous steps rarely met with widespread acceptance, and Alita: Battle Angel was no exception. When the film's first trailer was released in December 2017, there was a lot of commentary on the look of Alita's eyes on social media, and politely speaking, not much of it was super positive.
Since the film was still more than a year from its release at the time, the reaction behind the scenes of the film caused a sensation and meant that the question of the chosen street was still a good idea to travel with. Two people who, however, never had any doubts were Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron, who, according to WETA Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Saindon, had a very clear attitude to the early negative reaction: "Fuck the Hasser."
Saindon was part of a group of visual effects and animation supervisors from Alita: Battle Angel – including Richard Baneham, Mike Cozens and Richard Hollander – with whom I had the privilege of sitting together yesterday on a press day about the Walt Disney awards season Studiolos in Burbank, California. At the beginning of the conversation, the subject of changes after the trailer was raised, and I joined the group that specifically asked about the development of Alita's eyes.
The WETA filmmaker responded directly to the comment surrounding the first Alita: Battle Angel trailer, and admitted that it inspired some internal conversations:
We had the original design, didn't we? The designs go back to 2005. Once you do that and put it next to a live action actor, they always have to change a little bit because it looks a little strange. And when the first trailer came out, everyone said: “Your eyes are pie-shaped! You are gigantic! & # 39; And blah, blah, blah. And we went to Robert and Jim and said, 'Hey, we're getting this feedback. What are your thoughts? & # 39;
As mentioned earlier, the response they received from Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron was not very fringing and punching. They had a clear idea of what Alita should look like: Battle Angel, and a lot of it was the character's manga-inspired eyes. Saindon continued:
Both said: 'No, we want to enlarge our eyes! Jim said, "Fuck the haters, right?" He said, "We'll make our eyes bigger, and so we'll do it."
That means holding on to your weapons, ladies and gentlemen.
Those who have seen the film obviously know that the filmmakers of Alita: Battle Angel have definitely not strayed from their basic ideas for the hero, and she has much bigger eyes than the human characters. You may notice in still images that things have changed a bit, but the movement should never get any smaller.
As Eric Saindon explained, visual effects artists didn't really understand James Cameron and defiantly got bigger with their eyes, but certain adjustments were made to make them feel more natural in the finished film. Said the filmmaker
At the end of the day, both were right. We didn't get that much bigger with the eyes, but we got bigger with the iris, and we filled the space of the eyes a little bit more, and it just brought their character to life even more.
Alita: Battle Angel took a long time – both in pre-production and post-production – but the end result was one of the most impressive blockbuster efforts we saw on the big screen last year. It's amazing how haunting the world of film feels, and hopefully one day we'll be able to go back in a sequel.
Hopefully we will hear a lot more about Alita: Battle Angel and news about possible follow-up during this year's award season. Stay up to date here on CinemaBlend for the latest news and keep an eye out for more stories from my interviews with the VFX filmmakers behind Captain Marvel, The Lion King and Avengers: Endgame.