WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Alita: Battle Angel, in theaters now.
The battle suits worn by protagonist Alita are among the signature elements of Yukito Kishiro's popular manga series Gunnm and its subsequent anime adaptations. Director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron did their best to ensure the armor is also a focal point of their live-action Alita: Battle Angel.
However, as the new feature is intended to launch franchise, it focuses on just one of Alita's suits, which turns out to be the most powerful one she possesses: the Berserker.
In the manga, Alita is upgraded to Berserker mode after a brawl in the grimy ghetto known as Scrap City left her without the lower half of her body. Her owner, Daisuke Ido, decided that after giving her the typical run-of-the-mill cybernetic body when he salvaged her, the time had come to grant her a more dangerous cyborg suit. That would eventually help her in her quest to be a Hunter-Warrior (a bounty hunter). Her Besrserker suit is a special armor retrofitted by Daisuke after he found it at the bottom of a ravine. He revealed that, hundreds of years ago, it was intended to turn humans into weapons of mass destruction.
However, the film drastically changes that, as Alita is drawn to the Berserker in Iron City (the adaptation's version of Scrap City). After meeting and falling in love with Keean Johnson's Hugo, she tracks the armor lto a lake at the bottom of a cliff. Hugo and his friends usually go there to find junk to sell, but they never dared wander to the bottom of the lake. Alita does, though, and finds a ship that's responsive to her, allowing her to enter and discover the Berserker.
But after taking the Berserker back to Dyson Ido (the film's version of Daisuke, played by Christoph Waltz), he refuses to bind her to it. That is, until she's damaged while fighting thugs, just like in the source material. To save her life, he integrates her to the Berserker in a major retcon. Apparently, it was destined to be Alita's, as these suits were constructed hundreds of years ago for elite soldiers in the United Republic of Mars. Alita was a key member of that military, but 300 years earlier, she and her company failed in a mounted assault on the Sky City, Zalem. In the ensuing war, all URM's ships were lost, along with the Berserker suits.
That is, until now. These suits only connect to soldiers like Alita, who have a special heart -- an anti-matter arc reactor -- that acts as a key. And so, when Alita does go into Berserker mode, it's true to the lore: She's agile, durable, super-flexible, possesses super-strength and speed, and most importantly, she can generate plasma blasts and explosions with her fingertips.
Sadly, she doesn't utilize the latter much but the biggest upgrade the Berserker offers her is that it's made of unique nanotechnology that can heal her. It binds to her, becoming her one and true body, making Alita's now impervious to blades and bullets alike. Apart from now becoming a Motorball star, with these healing abilities, she's more or less immortal, and given her sense of justice, Alita truly becomes a Battle Angel.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Lana Condor and Eiza González, and is in theaters now.