With the proven success the Avatar franchise has earned thus far, Cameron has made it clear that he is readying even more from his sci-fi odyssey. This will come in the form of three more planned sequels, with the first due out in late 2024.
The director has offered a few small details about Avatar 3, 4, and 5, most recently teasing a fire tribe of fire Na'vi known as the "Ash people" for the upcoming threequel.
In a world dominated by superheroes and comic book adaptations, Avatar is a breath of fresh air. And even though Cameron's Pandoran franchise is getting the sequel treatment (just like the MCU and DCU), the filmmaker remains adamant that Avatar will not fall into the same trappings.
James Cameron Talks Up Avatar Sequels
In a recent interview, director James Cameron broke down how his Avatar sequels will be different from the likes of Marvel and DC.
Speaking with B TV Korea Cameron said his sci-fi franchise is "not like a [DC or Marvel] story" in that there won't be a "new villain with every film," instead it will be the "same adversary through the whole" saga:
“It’s not like a superhero story where there’s a new villain with every film. Same guy, right? Same adversary through the whole thing. But how he evolves is also very interesting once we bring in additional adversaries as we go along. Additional adversaries and additional allies.”
Additionally, Comicbook.com's Brandon Davis (via Variety) asked the filmmaker if Marvel and DC's VFX breakthroughs influenced the Avatar franchise, to which Cameron brought up the "rising tide of technique" brought about by comic book films, and how it gives VFX teams "more talented people writing code:"
“Obviously the big comic book films have been driving the sheer volume of the industry… the rising tide of technique raises everybody together. It gives you higher quality artists, more tools and plug-ins and code [to use]. You’ve got more talented people writing code out there.”
He noted that his WETA Digital team "constantly" has new hires "coming out of that [comic book film] pool,” before boasting that despite all this WETA "is the best" at what they do in the industry:
“Our team at WETA Digital is constantly having new hires, and it’s coming out of that pool,So it improves everything. That said, WETA Effects, as it’s called now, is the best. Right? Industrial Light & Magic does great work, but when it comes to the kind of emotive facial stuff that we’re doing… Thanos? Come on. Give me a break. You saw [‘Avatar: The Way of Water’]. It’s not even close. It’s what WETA did.”
On the subject of Avatar 3, The Way of Water star Jack Champion recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the threequel is "a hard left turn," lamenting that audiences will "think [they] know where it’s going, but then a wrecking ball comes:"
“I was very shocked by ['Avatar 3']. It just takes a hard left turn, and that’s not a bad thing. You think you know where it’s going, but then a wrecking ball comes, so you’re completely like, ‘Oh wow, I never thought that would’ve happened.’ You also see more regions of Pandora, and you get introduced to more cultures. So I think it’s even better than 'Avatar 2'. Collectively, they’ll each get better.”
Avatar vs Marvel and DC
James Cameron has not been shy in comparing his films to the likes of Marvel and DC. The director recently made headlines when he slammed the comic book movie genre, saying "[no] matter how old the characters are, they all act like they’re in college," comparing the Avatar character and how they change over time.
Now, it's a little surprising to see the director kind of offering some sort of compliments to Marvel and DC. He can see that he could not have made The Way of Water without the advancements in effects technology brought upon by the comic movie business.
As for his villain comment, he is not wrong. Every MCU and DCU film usually comes with a villain to call its own. Of course, there are those exceptions like Thanos or Loki, but it is not anything like Avatar's Quaritch.
As evident by the character's return in The Way of Water, Stephen Lang's villain is going to be a force to reckon with throughout the Avatar saga. Surely there will be other antagonistic forces put in the Sully clan's way, but everything will come back to Quaritch.
And that simply isn't something DC or Marvel have done on-screen. But this is like comparing apples and oranges. Avatar is set to be a five-movie saga, with a definitive end seemingly in sight. Whereas modern superhero films play into entire cinematic universes, spanning dozens of movies and streaming series.
So if the MCU or DCU were to take this same villain tact, audiences would be seeing an inordinate amount of this main big bad, something that audiences could very easily get sick of due to over-saturation.
Avatar: The Way of Water can be seen in theaters worldwide.