Avatar 2 Gender-Swapped Key Villain, Reveals New Concept Art

By Alycia Leach Posted:
Avatar 2 concept art

New Avatar 2 art revealed a surprising change for one central character.

While Avatar 3 producer Jon Landau hopes each entry will "come to its own conclusion," Way of the Water makes it clear that director James Cameron is telling an overarching story that spans the entire saga.

General Ardmore, in particular, played a huge role in carrying the consequences from the original Avatar into its hugely successful sequel. 

Ardmore, who served as a primary antagonist this time around, was sent to Pandora following the death of Colonel Miles Quaritch in the first film. 

Throughout the second film, she hunts Jake Sully to execute him for his treasonous actions. However, not all is as it seems, as new photos revealed one surprising change for this essential Avatar character.

Avatar Art Book Reveals Interesting Character Change

The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water is an art book that was released on the same day as the titular film, and its contents revealed a surprising change for one character. 

General Ardmore appears to have been gender-swapped during the film's lengthy production process.

General Frances Ardmore depicted as a male character
The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water

In the image above, the original design for the villain depicts Ardmore as male.

General Frances Ardmore depicted as a male character (close-up)
The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water

This male character is seen traveling alongside the cloned Avatar of Quatritch as well as other members of the RDA.

However, as fans will know, the character is a woman in the final film and played by Edie Falco.

Edie Falco who plays General Frances Ardmore
Avatar: The Way of Water

It's unclear why this change occurred, but interestingly, the character was gender-swapped in the final film, and the images above could be from many years ago, given how long the movie took to make. 

After all, Ardmore's actress believed the film had already been released, but the lack of fanfare was because it had underperformed.

Construction work on Bridgehead
The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water

The book also fleshes out the motivations of the sky people, mainly the reasons why their base on Pandora, Bridgehead, appears to be a work in progress - even a decade after operations on the planet began.

Bridgehead - a circular city
The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water

The book notes that the outpost is "permanent" and entirely utilitarian. It's designed to "cover large tracts of real estate" across Pandora to intimidate the Na'vi.

The way that it still looks like a construction site is purposeful; humans are trying to assert their dominance over the planet by building urban infrastructure. This artificial metropolis is a visible contrast to how the Na'vi value nature and the natural environment.

The full text can be read below:

"In order to be more efficient with its mining and resource missions, the RDA establishes a permanent outpost on Pandora known as Bridgehead. Ben Procter says its geographical and functional footprint is entirely utilitarian. Its massive circular design covers large tracts of real estate across the land and sea and is imposing visual display of muscle meant to intimidate the Na’vi. Procter says of its design, “Bridgehead’s purpose is that of being a construction site. And it’s all about humanity implying they’re building a whole new city practically overnight. A sort of ‘Eff you, Eywa.’”

Avatar Film Not the Only One Making Changes

General Ardmore's gender swap is no huge shock for those following Marvel and other franchises of late. Falco's antagonist joins a recent trend in Hollywood to gender-swap characters, particularly giving male roles to female actresses. 

Marvel is one such franchise making this change to help increase female representation in film and television. There are a plethora of characters who have been gender-swapped. Infamously, Tilda Swinton's role in Doctor Strange traditionally belonged to an Asian male. 

The studio initially thought they were cutting edge in avoiding Asian stereotypes but later realized it had whitewashed the character. Of course, there are ways to cast minority groups without falling into harmful stereotypes, which Marvel president Kevin Feige has now realized.

However, gender-swapping can be done well, and Marvel has had a lot of success. The studio has gone a considerable way into breaking gender stereotypes and dismantling gender roles in the entertainment industry.

For instance, the groundbreaking Disney+ series Moon Knight changed the Scarlet Scarab from a Captain American villain to the first superhero of Arabic descent

However, Marvel isn't the only one, as the hit Netflix show The Sandman also gender-bent John Constantine, who in the latest adaption became Johanna Constantine. According to writer Neil Gaiman, this change brought a "sense of balance" to the series.

Avatar: The Way of the Water is now playing in cinemas worldwide.

- About The Author: Alycia Leach
Alycia Leach is a writer at The Direct. She joined The Direct in November 2020 and prides herself on her extensive knowledge of Luke Skywalker.