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Mahershala Ali Circling Villain Role In Robert Rodriguez’s Rendition Of Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel continues to beef up its cast ahead of entering production later this month, with THR reporting that Mahershala Ali is now closing in.


Through House of Cards and Marvel’s Luke Cage, Mahershala Ali has turned in a pair of emphatic villain performances – standing tall to both Frank Underwood and Mike Colter’s Hero for Hire, no less – and it seems neither have gone unnoticed.

Nipping at the heels of Keean Johnson’s casting, The Hollywood Reporter brings word that Ali has entered negotiations to board Alita: Battle Angel, the long-in-development science fiction film that’s in the works at 20th Century Fox. Production is due to commence in Austin, Texas later this month, hence the casting spree, and if a deal places the House of Cards alum will be signing on to play Vector, one of the many villains lining the ranks of Robert Rodriguez’s feature.

Much like Johnson before him – he’ll portray Hugo in the 2018 adaptation – Ali’s character has ties to the gladiator-style combat game called Motorball, a sport that’s nothing less than the go-to pastime in the dystopian future of the 26th century. Tapping into Yukito Kishiro’s nine-volume manga, Rodriguez’s big-screen rendition will be told through the lens of Rosa Salazar’s female cyborg, one tossed into the city’s mountainous scrapyard only to be rescued by Christoph Waltz’s professor of cybernetics. Alita, with only her deadly martial arts skills to her name, then trains her sights on Scrapyard’s criminal underbelly, encountering both Zapan (Deadpool‘s Ed Skrein) and a cybernetic villain played by Jackie Earl Haley of Preacher fame.

All in all, it’s a wonderful time to be a fan of Japanese manga, what with both Ghost in the Shell and Adam Wingard’s Death Note simmering in various stages of development.

Alita: Battle Angel has been earmarked for theatrical release on July 20, 2018. Seemingly sensing the movie’s blockbuster credentials, Fox has also mapped out plans for an IMAX release.

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Michael Briers