WARNING: Spoilers for Alita: Battle Angel Ahead
Alita: Battle Angel was a true cinematic experience. It put you right in the middle of the action as you dodged motor balls, ducked around cyborg fights, and whirled through the scrapyard. With everything going on, you most likely missed the hints, manga references, and Easter eggs throughout the film. So, read on to see what you missed in Iron City.
Zapan’s Aztec Roots
Zapan was a feared bounty hunter until Alita brought him down a couple of notches. However, if you take a look at the notches on his back, you might have noticed his Mexican roots. The carving on his back is an intricate interpretation of the Aztec calendar.
The Number 99
In the movie, Alita is attached to the number 99 because flashbacks reveal that it was her name during her past life. However, in the manga, Alita’s former name was actually Yoko. 99 is the number that Alita chooses to use during her motorball career, which in the manga, doesn’t start until she loses Hugo. This is why Alita iconically paints the number 99 on her battle armor at the end of the movie.
Iron City is in South America
Although the original manga is set in Kansas City, director Robert Rodríguez has said that his Iron City is located somewhere in South America. This was decided because James Cameron believed the link between Zalem and Iron City could be possible if it were somewhere near the equator. According to the production designer of Alita, they also traveled to Mexico and Panama to recreate each country’s architecture for Iron City.
Therefore, throughout the movie, you can see references to the Spanish language. Ido’s clinic is called “clínica” and you can find other ads and signs in Iron City written in Spanish.
The Number 55
Hugo constantly wears a brown shirt with the number 55 on it throughout the movie. This could be a reference to a moment in the manga where Alita challenges a motorball champion to an arm wrestling match. The champion, Jasugun wagers a coin from Factory 55 and Alita wagers her heart. In the movie, Alita tries to give her heart to Hugo and this might be why Hugo is associated with the number 55.
Rosa Salazar Makes a Cameo
During an interview, Rosa Salazar, the actress that plays Alita, revealed that she snuck her way into the film as her human self. If you look very carefully behind all the scuffle during the fight at the Kansas bounty hunter bar, you might catch a glimpse of her real self in the background.
The Damascus Blade
In the film, Zapan shows off his sword and tells Alita and Hugo that the blade was created using Zalem technology and is therefore extremely powerful. Later on, Alita says that he doesn’t deserve such a weapon and this is because the blade belongs to Alita in the manga. The Damascus sword is given to Alita by her motorball manager later on in the story. It also isn’t made from Zalem technology. According to the manager, the blade was forged from the scraps in the scrapyard and in all of the universe, the steel can only be found in Iron City. Its impurities breathe life into the steel and make it resilient and powerful.
Ajakutty, the Motorball Champion
Throughout the movie, you might have noticed ads and posters for Ajakutty, one of the motorball champions. This character references Aydakatti from the manga. Although he doesn’t play a big role in the manga, Alita must challenge him to use the battle number that she wants – number 99. In the film though, Ajakutty is given the number 88 to avoid confusion.
When Alita and Hugo go to Kansas, one of the bounty hunters tells them that he has 207 confirmed kills. Although this might be a far reach, the number could refer to the manga’s total number of pages. Volume 3 of Alita: Battle Angel entitled “Killing Angel” has exactly 207 pages in it.
Hugo Has a Hangover
Vector brings Hugo into his “office” to talk about Alita. Then, the next morning, Alita finds Hugo hungover in bed. This is a clear shoutout to the manga when Vector gets Hugo drunk and confronts him about stealing cyborg backbones. The booze they drink in the manga is actually a shipment to Zalem that Vector stole and uses to show Hugo that he can have anything he wants in Iron City if they work together.
Grewishka’s Iconic Lines
In the manga, Grewishka’s name is actually “Makaku”. However, despite the name change, Grewishka still references one of Makaku’s iconic lines. When he first meets Alita, he tells the cyborg and Doctor Ido that he will remember them in a very creepy manner. This is taken directly from the manga where Makaku says, “I have burned the image of you and that girl into my retina. I shall not forget you. I will return one day, and slurp all the matter from your skull.”
Grewishka also tells Alita that he wants to turn her into a pendant and wear her around his neck. This dark quote seemed very out of place in the more light-hearted film and it’s because it was taken straight from the grim, twisted manga.
Besides these lines though, most of what Grewishka says and does is completely different from Makaku. For one, he isn’t working under Vector or any other third party in the manga and has a sad backstory. He also loves Alita and eats his victim’s brains for endorphins.
When Grewiska barges into the Kansas bar in the movie, he tells Alita that her fighting isn’t from her body, but instead comes from her mind. However, this is a stark contrast from what Makaku actually says in the manga. When he enters the bar, he tells Alita, “My intellect is bound to whatever body my head inhabits. For as Nietzsche said, ‘the spirits is but a plaything of the body’”.
Instead, the quote that Grewshka utters in the movie is very similar to something a motorball champion in the manga says. Known as Jasugun, the champion tells Alita, “Nothing about fighting techniques is hard. All you do is strike when you need to, and evade when you need to. What’s important is the speed and power of your mind”.
Now, this character has a connection to Nova and therefore, Grewishka’s quote might point to an interesting future plot for the movie.
Did you catch any other references to the manga? Add it to the comments, and be sure to check out the differences I found between the manga and the movie.