– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Rest assured, Alita: Battle Angel director Robert Rodriguez is plenty aware of the potential for Alita’s character to wander into the uncanny valley. Ever since the first trailer hit, fans have been concerned that this is something that would go unaddressed, and that we’d have to settle for a distractingly non-human lead character — one that lives among normal humans (which makes it even more distracting).

Speaking with LRM Online at New York Comic-Con, Rodriguez discussed the difficulties this project had, in that it’s one of the first really have a truly human-like presence on screen:

“All the performance capture stuff has been dialed in a lot more after the Avatar movies and the Planet of the Apes movies, ” Rodriguez told us. “But those were like blue creatures and then we had the apes and no one had really done a full-blown human face, a human all that time, then especially a stylized human that we wanted to look. In the original art she always had the manga eyes and looked like [manga artist Yukito Kishiro’s] drawings. They had to be photo real. So how do you figure that out and build faces that could handle all of her nuance?”

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So, it was a big challenge. Not only does it have to look human, but it has to look human enough, even with the stylized look to help it better resemble a true manga character — something Rodriguez felt very adamant about accomplishing. He delved into the process of actually doing so, and how they’ve been working painstakingly to make sure the uncanny valley doesn’t rear its ugly head in any shots:

“So it’s one thing to have an ape or to have a blue alien, they’re not the same proportions but we all know what humans look like. You can spot … It’s just in our DNA to spot something that’s not real because it’s to protect ourselves. You just know right away. ‘That’s not a real person.’ So you have to fight against that. It was amazing even though they’d done all those technological breakthroughs, we still had to keep adjusting, rigging the face every time they’d come up against a new scene where Rosa’s very expressive. She does an expression that’s not translating. They got to rebuild the face again and then change all the faces they did before to update it. So it’s really a neat process. Every day I see shots come in. Some of them I saw a year, a year and a half ago and they’re still coming in with new corrections on them. So it’s a constant updating process. It’s pretty amazing.”

Some of you may have doubts they’ll accomplish this, but there’s even a difference in look between that first and second trailer. Extrapolate that progress into next year, and we hope it’s enough to make believers. And if that’s not enough to fix it, maybe you’ll just be so used to it you’ll overlook it (mind flashes to Superman in Justice League)…or maybe not.

Do you think Rodriguez and co. will be able to accomplish that? Let us know down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.