Avatar 4's Big Change Explained by Producer

By Alycia Leach Posted:
Avatar, Na'vi

Avatar producer Jon Landau shared additional details on one important change for the franchise that'll occur during the fourth movie.

Despite 13 years passing since the original Avatar film in 2009, Avatar: The Way of the Water still became one of the most successful films of all time, triumphing at the box office and securing the franchise's future for years to come.

One of the film's highlights included Jake Sully's children and Miles Socorro, aka Spider, the human child of antagonist Miles Quatrich who grew up among the Na'vi.

Director James Cameron teased that for each sequel, there will be a new narrator, and audiences are about to see Pandora through the eyes of the next generation.

Big Time Jump Ahead for Avatar 4

Avatar Na'vi

The Avatar franchise is looking to avoid what James Cameron dubbed the Stranger Things effect, and producer Jon Landau revealed the big shift hoping to prevent the child actors from looking too old.

At a Q&A for the digital release of Avatar: The Way of Water, Landau shared details about a time skip that'll happen approximately one-third of the way through Avatar 4.

The producer said that there are "still little pieces of action... need[ing] to [be] picked up" for Avatar 4:

"So we basically– and, when I say all, there’s little pieces of action we still need to pick up, so I don’t want you to hear like, ‘Oh, they went back, and did some performance capture, and Jon misled me.’"

While Avatar 3 is now in post-production, it's not as far along as fans initially hoped.

Still, its sequel is even further out, as Landau shared that only the "first act of part four" has been finished, but there's a good reason for this, "there's a big time jump."

In the past, James Cameron disclosed his desire to avoid his actors outgrowing their ability to play young characters convincingly.

Thus, Cameron and Landau "needed to do all the kids" while they were still children because the film "can't suddenly have [the child characters] be older:"

"We did 95% of movies two, three, and the first act of part four. Now, why the first act only? Because in our narrative, there’s a big time jump there, and we needed to do all the kids while they were this age, because we can’t suddenly have them be older. And if we went into a set that had scenes from all three movies, we shot that out at one time."

In Cameron's quest to prevent his younger actors from aging out of their characters, it seems he took inspiration from 2014's coming-of-age epic Boyhood.

By the second half of Avatar 4, the children become "young men [and] young women."

Cameron referenced Richard Linklater's Boyhood, citing the 11 years that depict actor Ellar Coltrane growing up on the screen as a product of a "drawn-out shooting schedule:"

“They’re young men, young women at that point, when we get to the B side of that time jump,”

Producer Landau praised the drawn-out method, saying he "enjoy[s] seeing them grow up as people."

The producer also expressed his pride for the "young... adults that they've all become" and believes audiences will "want to go on the journey with them:"

“I enjoy seeing them grow up as people, and I’m very proud of the young — I’ll even call them adults — that they’ve all become,” Landau remarks of the actors. ” I think audiences will want to go on the journey with them.”

The Future of Pandora and the Avatar Franchise

Despite only debuting in The Way of the Water, Jake Sully's children already played a massive role in the Avatar franchise, quickly becoming fan-favorite characters.

However, despite introducing a swathe of new faces, Cameron hopes to set Avatar apart from other major franchises.

While Marvel and DC don't hesitate to introduce a new villain, Avatar seems to be sticking with the oppressive Resource Development Administration, better known as the RDA.

The RDA continues to mine the planet of Pandora and strip it of its natural resources, but that doesn't mean that the RDA will be the only antagonist in the series.

Recently, Cameron also teased that future installments will introduce "additional adversaries and additional allies," including an "intra-world villain" which fans could be introduced to as early as the threequel, Avatar 3.

It seems likely that this intra-world villain could be actress Oona Chaplin, who will be playing the leader of the fire tribe, Varang, in this untitled third story.

So far, fans know that this new group of Na'vi won't be as welcoming as the Omiticaya people were in Way of the Water

Instead, Cameron is hoping to show a more "negative side" to the Pandora inhabitants and subvert what fans have come to expect from the franchise.

Avatar 3 is currently in post-production and is slated to release in theaters on December 20, 2024.

- 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.