Alita – Battle Angel is a visually stunning film with a heavy Christian theme. While Alita is a cyborg she is on a mission to confront evil wherever she may find it. Alita has unique abilities programmed in her that the Zalems and their agents will stop at nothing to destroy. These unique abilities include: a moral sense of right and wrong, kindness, a willingness to fight and die for the oppressed and of course great fighting skills. Alita is a human being. The Zalems want to stop Alita from becoming what she was ordained to be.
The world in which Alita must live, Iron City, is filled with evil. Iron City looks much like some areas of Detroit, Los Angeles or Chicago. Floating above Iron City is Zalem, the last of the aptly called “Sky cities.” Iron City is made up of oppressed factory workers who provide Zalem with goods made from the waste that falls from Sky City. Alita is part of that waste, an outcast, but a special outcast. Zalem is populated with a mysterious, but evil, ruling class who use the people of Iron City to do their bidding.
Zalem is the perfect socialist society. As Ayn Rand wrote it in her 1946 monograph Textbook of Americanism,
Collectivism holds that man has no rights; that his work, his body and his personality belong to the group; that the group can do with him as it pleases, in any manner it pleases, for the sake of whatever it decides to be its own welfare. Therefore, each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.
The citizens of Iron City are ruled by the collectivists on Zalem (the group) and their Iron City agents led by Vector. Vector is an evil and satanic man who is Alita’s nemesis.
Happily, ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL has a strong Christian worldview that evokes many allegorical messages. For example, the movie’s references to “the fall” stress the corruption of power and sin. At one point, Alita says, “I will not stand by in the presence of evil.” At another point, she and Hugo hide in an abandoned church and find protection. Also, in one scene, the villain, Vector, says, “I’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.” His comment echoes Satan’s comment in John Milton’s classic Christian poem PARADISE LOST. ALITA also touches on the idea of indulgences or buying your way into heaven. For example, in the story, different characters are trying to buy their way into Zalem, the sky city. Eventually, Dr. Ido’s wife sees the error of her greed and desires to be different.
During the movie Alita takes a sword away from one of her protagonists named Zapan. She tells him that he is not worthy of such a sword. The sword becomes part of Alita and she wields it with great skill. This may also be a Biblical reference as the word sword appears 406 times in the Bible. The sword represents both a weapon used to defend oneself and as the Word of God. Genesis 27:40 reads:
“You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
Alita appears destined to throw the yoke form the necks of the people of Iron City. She is serving her brothers and sisters. Zalem is not heaven, at least not in a spiritual sense. Iron City is, on the other hand, hell on earth in a materialistic post modern Nietzsche/Darwin way. It’s dog eat dog or rather cyborg killing cyborg.
Iron City reminds us of Ecclesiastics:
Man’s fate is like that of animals; the same fate awaits them both. As one dies so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust and to the dust all return (3:19-20)
There is not a righteous man on earth, who does what is right and never sins (7:20) … one sinner destroys much good. (9:18).
At the end of the movie Alita enters a large arena filled with people from Iron City. She defiantly stands on a platform and points her flaming sword directly at Zalem as Zapan looks down upon her. Is judgement day coming to Zalem?
Let us see if Alita – Battle Angel can continue to do what is right and defeat the sinners in Sky City in the sequel. Alita has the power and the will. Does she have a Godly purpose? Or will the sequel devolve into a paradise lost with stunning animation but no moral message?