Devoted fans of the new movie Alita: Battle Angel noticed a big change in the film from the original comics that inspired the movie. The original Japanese manga series was set in Kansas City, Missouri, but producer James Cameron set the movie in Panama City, Panama.
In a recent interview, director Robert Rodriguez revealed why the change was made – and gave a little shout out to Panama, in the process.
On one hand, Panama was chosen for scientific reasons. The script called for a space elevator and Cameron decided it was more likely for a space elevator to work if it was set closer to the equator. Rodriguez told a reporter from Complex that he picked Panama City.
“I thought that was fantastic, so let’s do Panama City, which is a Latin country, and we’ve never seen that in a sci-fi film before,” Rodriguez said. “And with all the different cultures, it’s just naturally diverse, so the diversity was actually part of the original script.”
Rodriguez decided Panama City’s skyscrapers and futuristic look would be the perfect setting to build the 23rd Century world in the movie. Of course, it’s set in a world devastated by a vast apocalyptic war, leaving cities in ruin. So it’s not exactly a travel postcard for Panama. But at least Cameron – the genius behind Titanic and Avatar – had a good reason for setting the movie in Panama.
The movie, which is about an amnesiac cyborg, received a mediocre 60 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes but appears to be a hit with sci-fi fans.