Just like the title character, there's nothing the Alita Battle Angel fandom can't beat in a fight. Not even Little Women.
Over the past few months, there's been a casual poll that's gone viral in film Twitter. It's a bracket match up intended to determine the "best movie of all time" that has been deliberately designed to create meltdowns. I've already gone catatonic with rage at some of these match ups (I will never stop being upset that Akira Kurosawa's magnum opus, Ran, lost to fucking Raiders of the Lost Ark).
Of all the films in the Greatest Movie of All Time Bracket—there are hundreds, as losers get a second chance in the "Bombs" bracket before they're eliminated—one movie has slowly but surely mowed down it's competition, like an amnesiac cyborg on a quest for revenge: Alita Battle Angel.
Like K-Pop stans, the Alita Army is mobilized and ready to defend their object of fandom at any given time. There are Alita themed Twitter accounts light up like the Batsignal when there's an opportunity to celebrate the film. When you mention Alita Battle Angel on Twitter, the Army will appear, ready for a rhetorical fight on why their favorite movie is good, actually.
If you haven't seen Alita and don't know what it's about, well, strap in. This movie is not only carrying the weight of being an actually good film adaptation of a beloved manga, but being a passion project that took over a decade for James Cameron, the movie's producer and original director, to get off the ground. The film ended up being directed by Robert Rodriguez, the wildly creative director that just can't seem to get audiences to sign on with his outsized imagination. On top of that, when it actually came out in theaters, it was an underdog, destined for cult classic status but not the blockbuster success one would hope that a big, splashy action movie would receive. Sure it dominated its President's Day opening weekend, but that was one of the weakest opening weekend's for the holiday in years.
All that, and we haven't even gotten to the movie's quality. Dear reader: it slaps. It is the rare kind of action movie spectacle that only comes from a mind that lives and breathes fight scenes and science fiction. The title character Alita, played charmingly by Rosa Salazar and her uncanny CGI-enhanced eyes, has both the sweetness of a teenage ingenue and the ferocity of a battle hardened warrior. The film dances along a knife's edge where it balances CW style melodrama, high octane cyborg murder and an entire sports movie arc without dropping a single beat. I have never seen anything like it, and I'm not sure I ever will again. If that's enough to convince you to stop reading this article right now and watch Alita, then how about this: Christoph Waltz plays a kindly scientist who is also a bounty hunter that murders evil cyborgs with a giant rocket hammer.
Its passionate fans are desperate for a sequel, not least because the movie ended on a mind blowing cliffhanger. In lieu of any news, they're doing what any other fandom would do: looking for avenues with which to assert their dominance. Using the hashtag #AlitaArmy, they signal each other whenever the movie needs their support. The latest target has been the Greatest Movie of All Time Bracket, and they've carried the movie from win to win.
For the most part, people following this poll have found the Alita Army's efforts charming. That changed yesterday when it came up against another adaptation of an acclaimed coming of age story about complicated female characters: Greta Gerwig's Little Women.
Gerwig, too, is an underdog as a woman in a male dominated field, and she, too, makes movies that are more cult classics than blockbusters. But Gerwig is more critically acclaimed than Rodriguez has ever been. Though she likes her share of melodrama, she doesn't make pulp, and her movies have been nominated for Oscars. Her fandom, while not as intense as Alita's, is also quite defensive of her and seeks to laud her success whenever they can. The idea of Little Women losing to a schlocky action film was too much for some of the Gerwig Gang to bear. And let's be clear; despite pulling ahead for a handful of hours, Little Women is absolutely losing to Alita Battle Angel.
Little Women stans, take a breath for a second. Louisa May Alcott has written some of the most significant literary works of all time, and Little Women has long been heralded as a classic of American literature. Gerwig's adaptation, similarly, has already overtaken the 90s movie starring Winona Ryder as the adaptation to watch, and I'm sure will warm the hearts of white women with beaded journals for decades to come. Yet, Little Women stans have positioned themselves as the underdog in this battle. If you think about it for longer than a second, it doesn't make sense.
Little Women was nominated for six Oscars and won one of them. Alita was nominated for precisely zero. Fans of Greta Gerwig know that she will return with another movie project soon enough. Alita fans are reduced to begging for a sequel on Twitter (Although he has expressed desire to direct a sequel to Alita, the film's status is still up in the air). To reduce Rodriguez's movie as just a sexist action flick, as some Little Women fans are, is not just an indicator of one's ignorance, but an insult to a great director. Rodriguez's Alita is not just about cyborg fights, though there are a lot of those. Alita treats its female lead with a level of respect that I almost never see in mainstream cinema. Everything about the movie, from its teen romance subplots to its rendering of Alita's emotional vulnerability, is absolutely sincere.
Today, the Alita Army got "Alita Sequel" trending on Twitter. In the hashtag, there isn't any hate for the fandoms that have maligned Alita Battle Angel. There's just a pure, heartfelt love for Alita. Fans recount how the movie touched them emotionally, the love they have for the world and its characters, and how all they want is a chance to visit that world again. I say, let Alita slice their way through the Greatest Movie of All Time Bracket. So many of the movies it's been up against have had their due. Let Alita Battle Angel, a movie decades in the making, a true labor of love, finally reign supreme.