After over a decade, director James Cameron is finally delivering his long awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time, 2009’s “Avatar”. The first film not only broke box office records, it was a technical and visual marvel in terms of CGI effects. It was a major leap forward for motion-capture performances comparable to Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It was a cinematic phenomenon that even dwarfed the first major modern comic-book crossover event, “The Avengers”. Fans of the film expected to see a sequel sometime before the end of the 2020s and mysteriously it never arrived. Cameron didn’t want to rush the process and so he quietly, but surely worked on the sequel, or rather sequels, over the years.
Well friends, the wait is over because “Avatar: The Way of Water” is coming to theaters this December. Before you jump back into the world of the Na’vi, there are some juicy details you’re going to need to know. Big changes are coming to Pandora and war is once again coming to the planet.
1. A Whole New Side of Pandora
In “Avatar”, we took in the breathtaking scenery of Pandora’s tropical side with lush jungles and floating landmasses of flora and fauna. This time, however, we’re exploring a region of the planet we’ve not seen before, the vast oceans of Pandora. One dominated with new wildlife and new threats as well. As the title of the film implies, a large portion of the film will be dedicated to fleshing out the aquatic ecosystem of Pandora. We’ve already caught glimpses of the Skimwing, a large creature resembling a flying fish and the majestic Ilu, inspired by the real-life whales of our planet. Based on the teaser, it looks like we’ll be seeing the Na’vi ride into battle once again but this time, they’ll be taking to the waters!
2. Meet the Metkayina Clan
In the first film, we learned so much about the Na’vi of Neytiri’s clan, the Omaticaya. We were absolutely enthralled by their culture, religion and the various key members of the clan. In “Avatar: The Way of Water”, we’ll get to meet the Metkayina Clan, cousins of the Omaticaya Na’vi. That being said, there are some key differences between the Metkayina with their jungle-dwelling brethren. For starters, they, unlike the Omaticaya, have deep blue eyes instead of yellow ones, they have fins on their forearms and their tails, and they have greater upper body strength. We look forward to seeing the relationship between the two clans and how they’ll face the coming threats together. The couple leading the clan are Toonwari and Ronal, played by Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet.
3. Jake Sully and Neytiri are now parents
At the end of “Avatar”, we saw that Jake had fully given up his human form through the Tree of Souls to become a member of the Na’vi. “Avatar: The Way of Water” takes place over a decade after that fateful decision. Since that time, Sully, played by Sam Worthington, has raised a family with Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldaña. Together, they have three biological kids: their daughter Tuktirey played by Trinity Bliss, and their two sons Lo’ak played by Britain Dalton and Neteyam played by Jamie Flatters. They also have two adoptive children, a human child named Javier Socorro played by Jack Champion and a Na’vi named Kiri, who, interestingly enough, is being played by Sigourney Weaver.
4. Grace Augustine could return
The reason we find Weaver’s involvement in “Avatar: The Way of Water” interesting is because she already played a role in the first film. She was the noble and empathetic scientist, Grace Augustine who eventually turned on the Resources Development Administration (RDA) to side with the Na’vi. When she was mortally wounded in her human form, Jake and the Na’vi had tried to transfer her consciousness into her Na’vi avatar to save her. Unfortunately, it didn’t work…or did it?
You see while she wasn’t able to be transferred into a new body, her memories were downloaded into the “organic computer” of the planet. Furthermore, before when she passed away, Mo’at, a spiritual leader known as a Tsahìk, told Jake that “She is with Eywa now”. In the world of Pandora, we know that to some extent Eywa is a real goddess in that universe. The guiding life force of all living things on the planet. She even answers prayers such as when she intervened in the fight against the RDA upon Sully’s request. So perhaps Mo’at’s statement is more than just words of comfort. Perhaps, Grace has possibly been reincarnated but in the form of Kiri. Or perhaps there’s something else at play? Stick around to find out!
5. The Humans will be the Villains again
Don’t you just hate humanity? Well, the RDA is back on Pandora, and it’s under the command of one General Ardmore played by Edie Falco from HBO’s “The Sopranos”. The last time the RDA set foot on Pandora, it was led by the ruthless Colonel Miles Quaritch. Now, it seems Ardmore is returning to succeed where Quaritch failed. She’s joined by a team of scientist as well: Dr. Ian Garvin played by Jemaine Clement, Dr. Max Patel played by Dileep Rao and Dr. Karina Mogue played by Michelle Yeoh. No doubt the RDA is returning to Pandora in the interest of acquiring some of sort natural resource from the planet.
The question is: Will they triumph this time around?
6. Stephen Lang is back as Miles Quaritch
Wait didn’t he die on Pandora when Neytiri impaled him with two arrows? That’s probably what most of y’all are thinking right now but against all odds, it has been confirmed that Stephen Lang will be returning to the role of Miles Quaritch but this time in the form of a Na’vi. The RDA has been busy at work, and they’ve created avatars implanted with the memories of human soldiers known as Recombinants or “Recoms”. So, while Quaritch has technically died, the RDA has created a meaner, bluer version of the soldier in the body of a Na’vi. Furthermore, it’s also possible that Sigourney Weaver’s Kiri might be an Recom as well, but in the form of a teenage Na’vi.
It’s also been confirmed that Lang won’t just be appearing in “Avatar: The Way of Water” but in three more sequels after! In an interview with Empire, James Cameron had this to say about Stephen Lang’s character: “There’s not a new villain every time, which is interesting. Same guy. Same motherf***er through all four movies.” Needless to say, this is one soldier you do not want to piss off.
7. Revolutionary Underwater Motion-Capture
It has indeed been a long wait between the first film and “Avatar: The Way of Water” but rest assured that the time has been well spent. The first film was utterly groundbreaking in its use of motion-capture performances and CGI. James Cameron is looking to make history once again with “Avatar: The Way of Water” being the first film to fully utilise motion capture underwater!
You see, the challenge of doing motion capture underwater is that when you attempt to capture the performances of the actors portraying the CGI models, the dots and markers on the actors are reflected around them. This creates a ton of false markers. Furthermore, the camera crew has to be decked out in full scuba gear to shoot the sequences! Unlike most films that simply have motion-capture performers suspended on wires to simulate the effect of water, “Avatar: The Way of Water” is going the distance to create something truly spectacular. To call this groundbreaking would be an understatement!
8. Vin Diesel will be joining the Avatar Family
Yup, you read that right. “Fast and the Furious” actor Vin Diesel will be joining the cast of “Avatar: The Way of Water”. As of now, Cameron and company have yet to reveal any details about Diesel’s role in the film. If we were to hazard a guess, we think he’s probably one of the human soldiers occupying the avatar body of a Na’vi in the film. Namely the bald looking one behind the Recom version of Quaritch. We’re certainly curious to see how Diesel will perform in the world of Pandora. More importantly, if he’ll be friend or foe to the Jake Sully and the Na’vi.
Bonus: Sam Worthington on what fans can expect
Be sure to stay tune for more “Avatar: The Way of Water” updates and to check out the film when it hits theaters this December.