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An Entire Storyline Was Cut From ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’—But You Can Still Read It

Ronal, a Na'vi with a large shell on her forehead, puts her hand on her chest in Avatar: The Way of Water.

Given the three-hour runtime of Avatar: The Way of Water, you might think there couldn’t possibly be any plot points that didn’t make it into the final cut. It turns out, though, that there was enough story cut to make its own movie—and although that movie doesn’t exist, you can still read it in comics form.

Avatar Producer Jon Landau recently spoke to press about the upcoming digital release of Avatar: The Way of Water, and we asked him about difficult decisions that were made when putting together the final version of the film. “First of all, it’s the script,” he told us. “What story do you want to hone in on? We recently released, through Dark Horse Comics, a story that we once thought maybe could be Avatar 2. But it wasn’t. That whole story went.”

That story turned into The High Ground by Sherri L. Smith, a graphic novel series in which Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) takes the fight for Pandora to space. The final story that made it into Avatar 2 focuses on Jake’s efforts to protect his family from the humans, traveling to the ocean to build a new life with the aquatic Metkayina clan. Jake and Neytiri (Zoë Saldaña) try to build a new life and learn the Metkayina’s ways while their adopted daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) explores her connection to Pandora’s planetary consciousness, Eywa.

Landau also talked about difficult decisions he made before the movie’s final cut. “The next hardest thing, when you look at the cut of a movie, is that every scene works in your mind, but it might be a case where the sum of the whole isn’t greater than the parts. What do you sacrifice? What do you give up? It’s sort of like phantom limb syndrome. You might know it’s gone, but the audience watching the movie doesn’t know that beat is missing.”

Avatar: The Way of Water will be available to buy digitally on March 28.

(Correction: a previous version of this article stated that the film would be available to rent or buy on March 28. It’s only available for purchase.)

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.