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James Cameron Will Begin 'Battle Angel' After 'Avatar' Sequels

The man behind Pandora (and the 'Terminator' movies) says his manga adaptation will "one-up" even his most recent work.

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Stewart Volland/NGT

James Cameron is clearly a man who plans ahead. For years now, the director of Avatar and the Terminator franchise has been talking about plans to bring manga series Battle Angel Alita to the big screen, and he's finally announced a start date for the project: Four years from now. Like I said: He likes to plan ahead.

Cameron told an audience at Mexico City's TagDF conference that he'll begin to develop his long-awaited Battle Angel in 2017, following the completion of production for the next two Avatar movies. He described the project as something that would "one-up" Avatar by focusing on the expansion of character and storytelling over creation of new technology.

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The original manga was created by Yukito Kishiro, and debuted in the Business Jump anthology in 1990. The series, which lasted just over five years in its original incarnation, focused on a cyborg discovered in a local dump who can only remember snatches of her former life before going on to become a crime fighter and extreme sports celebrity (I promise, I am not making this up).

Six years after its conclusion, the manga was revived as Battle Angel Alita: Last Order after Kishiro revealed that he hadn't been happy with the direction of the original series, with Last Order rewriting the final chapters of the original; it's unknown whether Cameron plans to follow either version of Shiro's story with his adaption, but as far back as 2009, he was telling reporters about having "a very good script" and "an art reel that shows the arc of the film." Whether both will survive the next four years -- or have even made it this far, for that matter -- of course, remains to be seen …