According to James Cameron himself, a version of his first Avatar sequel had a galactic space battle in it—something he hopes to work into future installments.
Up to this point on-screen, the Avatar series kept audiences rooted firmly on Pandora. The first movie was all about the wonderful exotic forests of the planet, while The Way of Water explored its beautiful ocean biomes.
While the live-action side may not have seen any notable sequences in space (besides some basic and fleeting expository scenes), there’s a spin-off comic series set between the two films that does bring the Na’Vi into space.
Titled The High Ground, the story sees Jake Sully, Neytiri, and their Na’Vi people fight against the humans as they return to Pandora after being gone for so long.
It turns out that the space action sequence present in the comic's story was almost a part of last December’s Avatar 2 before the project eventually turned into what The Way of Water is today.
Avatar and its Galactic Future
In an interview with Disney Studios Awards, Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron talked about a galactic space battle that was scrapped for the Pandoran sequel.
During their discussion, Cameron revealed that at one point "there was a giant space battle" in Avatar 2:
“Well, the other big thing was taking out the space battle. There was a giant space battle; we took it out... We just put the space battle later, you know? You got a big enough canvas, you got an idea, it’s gotta go somewhere.”
He then went on to say "the real reason the space battle" was taken out was that it was a part of a version of the sequel that ultimately became a graphic novel:
“Yeah, but you know, the real reason the space battle came is ’cause ultimately, we could have taken everything we had created for Act 1 and made it an entire movie. In fact, I even did the experiment. I took everybody’s scenes, and all my scenes, and everybody else’s scenes, and shoved them altogether into a script, which ultimately I called 'The High Ground'. We’re doing it as the graphic novel."
The director shared how he thought his "125-page script" for The High Ground "would've made a great movie:"
"But 'The High Ground' as a 125-page script that had a beginning, middle, and an end. It would’ve made a great movie. But it wasn’t the movie we were trying to make. It made it to the ocean on like page 110. It wasn’t doing the job. ’Cause we knew the ocean is what people were going to want to see. That was the new thing. So 'The High Ground' became this kind of weird cul-de-sac. People have said that we kinda wrote a script and abandoned it, but that’s not really what happened."
Cameron admitted the idea had a real chance of becoming "the first sequel:"
"We were all working ahead in our areas, but I was just sitting there one day and I said, ‘Alright, I’m going to take five days and just jam all these scenes together, and see what happens.’ And it turned into a script. It was like, it literally could’ve been the first sequel. But we rejected it.”
Will the Na'Vi See Space on the Big Screen?
The real question here is when Cameron does explore his characters interacting with the cosmos, will the Avatar comic series even be alluded to? One would think that Neytiri being up there for the first time is a notable milestone for audiences to witness.
It has been admitted by the filmmaker that there are plans for these characters to visit Earth in future sequels—potentially in something like Avatar 5. One would think a story like that would almost certainly include some sort of space fare.
Until then, fans should keep their sights directly on Avatar 3, rumored to be called The Seed Bearer.
Not much is known about the third installment, but it has been confirmed that there will be a fire-themed Na’Vi tribe introduced, which will be more antagonistic than audiences are used to from the planet’s indigenous population. The humans might even be portrayed in a positive light this time around.
Cameron also teased the inclusion of desert and snow biomes, both of which present new visual opportunities and plenty of space for the director and writer to explore Pandora even deeper. Unfortunately, space might have to wait a bit longer.
Avatar: The Seed Bearer will release on December 20, 2024.