Alright, What Was Up The Those Totally Unexplained Blue Flames In Alita?

Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
If your idea of a fun Valentine’s Day night out is a movie full of sci-fi action, then Alita: Battle Angel is probably your best bet this year. Set in the dystopian future, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Gunnm manga series follows Alita (Rosa Salazar), an amnesiac cyborg trying to discover her real identity and past as a 300-year-old warrior from Mars. And while her brain is definitely human, the rest of her mechanical body gives her awesome physical strength and flexibility while her innate training in the powerful cyborg style Panzer Kunst gives her badass fighting skills. But in the movie, Alita has "powers" a.k.a strange blue flames coming out of her fingers that are never quite explained. And that's a damn shame, because it turns out that her powers are actually way cooler in the books upon which the film is based.
What Are The Blue "Flames"?
The 1990 manga series goes a lot deeper into Alita’s powers and reveals what exactly those blue flames are: plasma manipulation. It's a benefit of the cyborg body that Alita has; her use of plasma is just another incredible and unique skill that sets Alita apart from the rest of the cyborgs in Iron City.
Cool, So Why Didn't She Use Them In The Movie?
In Alita: Battle Angel, little blue flames come out of Alita’s fingertips, but she it doesn't appear that she actually uses them against an opponent, so what's the point? Well, the "flames" are the result of miniature plasma jets that can be used during punches and swipes against Alita’s enemies; they injure on an undetectable level, making her fighting style even more deadly. While she appears to be unstoppable in the movie solely because of her Panzer Kunst skills, her plasma jets are actually doing a lot of work that the film never really touches on.
Nice, But Surely They Do Something... Bigger?
Because of these little jets, Alita can also use plasma boosts, firing energy from her palms and her feet to go from zero to 100 real quick (think Iron Man-style propulsion). She’s even able to reach supersonic speeds immediately thanks to this handy little trick. She can also use plasma jets from her palms to send out a supercharged blast, incapacitating her enemies.
Anything Else That We're Missing?
While Alita is seen using an intricate and deadly blade from Mars in Alita: Battle Angel that fuses with her blue plasma, in the comics she uses elbow blades called Damasscus Blades that she can generate from her forearms whenever she needs them using nanotechnology.
While it’s understandable that Cameron’s film adaptation of the manga series can’t include everything from the comics, showing Alita’s plasma abilities without ever actually explaining what they are means that a lot of viewers are going to be left confused by the time the credits roll. But you're in luck if your interest in piqued after getting just a taste of Alita’s powers in Alita: Battle Angel, because there's a whole lot more going on in author Kishiro’s source material. Happy reading!

More from Movies

R29 Original Series