[The following contains spoilers for Alita: Battle Angel, so don’t read this if you don’t want to know about sequel plans.]
The Marvel movies have trained us all to expect surprising people to show up after a movie’s credits to set up the next movie, typically Samuel L. Jackson, but it’s rare that the surprising actors show up in the middle of the movie. As it turns out, that’s what happens in Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel, which features glorified cameos from three actors who are definitely just there so they can appear in hypothetical Alita sequels. ComingSoon.net got the scoop on these appearances after sitting down with Rodriguez, and he explained that he basically just turned to people he knew and asked for a favor.
But enough stalling: We already knew that Alita somehow got Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali, but now we know that it also features Edward Norton, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jai Courtney. Norton plays Nova, a scientist who built a lot of the bad guys that Rosa Salazar’s Alita fights in the movie. Rodriguez plays Gelda, the cyborg who trained Alita, and Courtney plays a superstar Motorball champion who will fight Alita in a sequel. The thing, though, is that no sequel is currently in development, and Robert Rodriguez doesn’t even have a script for one.
Rodriguez told ComingSoon that there was “almost no way” to tell the story he wanted to tell without including those characters in some way, but even though they don’t have much of an impact on this movie, he didn’t want to just cast anybody because he knew they’d be important in a hypothetical sequel. So, to get around that, Rodriguez and producer James Cameron just waited to film those scenes until they had found some people they had previously worked with who were willing to do it. He also noted that this required some trust from Norton, Rodriguez, and Courtney, because they might not be interested in whatever the nonexistent sequel may be about, but all three of them thankfully have experience being recast or written out of sequels.