Are you confused and annoyed at James Cameron’s seemingly ridiculous plan to make four Avatar sequels back to back?
If so, welcome to the club. Whatever Cameron is planning with these films, they seem to come out of left field – nobody was exactly calling out for an Avatar franchise, and the story of the first movie seemed tired and uninspired even all the way back in 2009.
We have to assume that James Cameron does have something unique to say with his four upcoming movies. Surely, these can’t just be a shameless cash grab, right?
If there is something unique in here, it’ll probably be coming from the young cast, rather than returning characters played Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang (both of whom died in the first movie, but will be returning for all sequels regardless).
Entertainment Weekly has revealed that the Avatar sequels won’t just focus on established heroes and villains from the first movie – we’ll also get a bunch of adorable baby Na’vi.
A new photo has shown off the child and teen actors who’ll play a part in these movies – there’s a few of them, played by (from left to right) Britain Dalton, Filip Geljo, Jamie Flatters, Bailey Bass, Trinity Bliss, Jack Champion, and Duane Evans Jr.
Only Jack Champion will be a human; a kid who is growing up in the Earth military base seen in the first movie (and which was all but deserted at the end of the story). The rest are all going to become giant blue space cats.
These new characters seem crucial. They’re a new element; something that we haven’t seen in the original movie, that add something to what otherwise could end up being a very formulaic movie.
According to Avatar producer Jon Landau:
“We never had this youthful element before, and that brings a different kind of energy to the film. They represent the future generation of Pandora and play a very significant role — not just in this movie but throughout all the movies.”
Presumably we’ll be getting the cutesy preteen version of a Romeo and Juliet or Fox and the Hound kind of story here – kids forming friendships across cultural barriers because their innocence hasn’t yet been corrupted by their parents’ war.
Sure, this isn’t any more original than the Dances with Wolves, Last Samurai, Fern Gully story of the original Avatar¸ but at least the first sequel looks like it’s going somewhere.
Besides, with four movies in the upcoming series, all filming as near to back-to-back as possible, these kids are going to grow up and develop a lot simply during filming. It’s a Harry Potter scenario, where we get to watch child actors grow up in real time, as their characters become adults and learn just how complex and nuanced their fantasy world has become.
This might just be enough of a reason to justify four Avatar sequels – so long as the story focuses on how these kids interact with each other and their elders. If they’re just side characters in a bigger war between Jake Sully and zombie Colonel Quaritch, there may not be any point to them being there.
James Cameron has never really tried a coming of age story before – not unless you count Terminator 2. If he wants to try something different, he’s very welcome to give this premise a spin.
If, on the other hand, the kid Na’vi are only there to sell pajamas and bedspreads to little boys and girls around the world, and this entire revitalized movie franchise ends up being as pointless and mercenary as it appears, then we can all agree to collectively stay as far away from subsequent Avatar movies as possible.
James Cameron deserves the benefit of the doubt, but if anything goes wrong with these films, it’ll instantly be time to re-evaluate the legendary director’s reputation as one of the most trusted faces in Hollywood.