Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron confessed to loving a certain superhero film.
Given the director's past criticism of DC and MCU films for they handle their super-powered characters, this news may come as a surprise.
But in true James Cameron fashion, the director once again defied all expectations.
James Cameron Doesn't Hate All Superhero Movies
In talking with Time, James Cameron discussed how his opinion, but not his love, for a particular DC superhero movie has evolved.
When Wonder Woman first debuted in 2017, the Avatar director took issue with Diana Prince's outfit.
And, while he still considers it an "objectified paradigm," he also claims that he "loved the movie."
“I don’t have an issue with 'Wonder Woman.' I loved the movie. What was elusive to me at the moment was it’s OK if the woman wants to be beautiful and dress well not for the male gaze, but for her own gaze in the mirror, right? I had maybe missed that part of it at the time."
Cameron went on to note that criticism and pushback can be helpful because "we talk about it and things get better:"
“You know, life is about stumbling and people push back and we talk about it and things get better."
Regardless of Cameron's initial Wonder Woman opinion, the director isn't alone in his love for the Patty Jenkins film.
Cameron also added that, while it was "necessary to have a female director own a major action movie" like Wonder Woman, Jenkins wasn't the first:
"It was necessary to have a female director own a major action movie, though Kathryn Bigelow had been doing that for a while.”
Bigelow, who's also Cameron's ex-wife, isn't just an acclaimed action film director, but also an Academy Award-winning one who helms male-dominated films.
According to Cameron "[Bigelow] would have turned down any superhero movie" if "it was a female lead:"
"She [Bigelow] would have turned down any superhero movie she was offered if it was a female lead. And that’s the healthier perspective, I think, personally. Why not have women direct male characters? Have a woman direct 'Batman'. Now, you’re talking.”
The director's opinion on male and female roles - and the industry's infatuation with superhero blockbusters - are well-known.
In a prior interview with Vanity Fair, he actually expressed his hopes for "Avenger fatigue." But not because he doesn't "love the movies," but because "there are other stories to tell:"
“I’m hoping we’ll start getting 'Avenger' fatigue here pretty soon. Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on, guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”
That's also not to say that he doesn't understand the intrigue, especially in terms of science fiction superhero films like Marvel's "fun" Guardians of the Galaxy:
“We can see the market drives us to a sort of science fiction now that’s either completely escapist and doesn’t require a technical consultant—an example of that would be 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' It’s just fun. We don’t care how those spaceships work or any of that stuff works. And then you have scientifically responsible science fiction like 'The Martian' or 'Interstellar'.”
Overall, it seems that Cameron isn't against superhero movies, but rather what he deems as a lack of substance or what should be considered an epic.
In fact, he broke down his own definition of epic to Variety, explaining that a "Marvel Universe film where whole cities get destroyed" isn't what the word means to him:
"The thing that strikes me about 'Dune' is that it’s truly epic. When I use the word 'epic,' I’m using it in a very specific way, meaning like a David Lean film, or to a very large extent like the 'Lord of the Rings' films. But when I think of films that have epic events in them, like let’s say a Marvel Universe film where whole cities get destroyed and so on, they don’t feel epic to me. You seem to have the discipline, the vocabulary, of actual epic filmmaking, that kind of grand proscenium frame that’s just presented and takes its time with the music and so on."
What Cameron Wants From Comic Book Films
Whenever James Cameron talks about movies besides his own, more often than not, his comments are controversial.
However, there are significant differences between him and other directors (like Martin Scorsese) who have shared their own takes on superhero films.
First of all, James Cameron is undeniably the king of blockbusters and popcorn with Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, and now Avatar on his resume.
Secondly, he actually likes superhero movies.
In addition to his appreciation for DC's Wonder Woman, he almost directed a Spider-Man film prior to Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire.
It's what this genre of films could be doing or saying - and doesn't - that bothers him.
As for his love for Wonder Woman, of all the comic book films out there, this DC movie makes sense.
Since the vast majority of Cameron's films have centered around female leads, Diana Prince's origin story no doubt resonated with the director and the stories he likes to tell.
While Cameron will probably never get away from his Avatar franchise, his appreciation - and his critique - of superhero films leave audiences wondering just what a Cameron comic book movie would look like and whether he has a point.
Avatar: The Way of Water is playing in theaters worldwide.