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James Cameron Says the Next ‘Avatar’ Film Is the Main Course, But I Filled Up on Appetizers

Oof, I think I'm good

Kate Winslet's character in Avatar The Way of Water

In a December interview with French website 20 Minutes, James Cameron called Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water an “introduction” to future Avatar films, implying that we haven’t seen the main meat of the story yet.

In the interview, which is in French, Cameron says, “I can say that the [upcoming movies] will be the best ones. The others were an introduction, a way to set the table before serving the meal. But, obviously, everything will depend on how Avatar 2 is received, if it finds its audience.”

Cameron doesn’t need to worry about whether The Way of Water is successful. As of this writing, the film has earned $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office, overtaking Top Gun: Maverick to become the 10th highest-grossing film ever made. It looks like the sequels are a go.

And what will be in those sequels, exactly? Avatar 3, which Cameron has reportedly already shot, will feature a more sinister group of Na’vi called the “Ash People.” After that, Cameron has plans for two more Avatar films, for a total of five.

Assuming that each of the three sequels will have a runtime similar to the first two movies … whoo, that’s a lot of Avatar. If Avatar 3-5 are the main course, I might duck out of the meal early.

Because, seriously, how is almost six hours of storytelling “setting the table?” I gave The Way of Water a 3 out of 5 in my review because the story was fine. It’s problematic, but it’s narratively competent, and the characters are just interesting enough to keep my mind off the back pain I get from sitting in a theater for three hours. But setting the table shouldn’t take this long. Significant events have happened in both movies, yet nothing in the franchise feels significant. It doesn’t even feel like setup for something bigger. The Avatar series, so far, feels like folding and refolding a napkin.

I like to imagine that someday, someone will make a saga sort of like Avatar, but they’ll do it much better. They’ll do it from an Indigenous perspective, instead of trotting out the white savior trope. The story will be streamlined. The forward momentum will be apparent from the start. And the plot will tap into deep truths while still feeling fresh and interesting.

In the meantime, though, we’ve got about nine more hours of Avatar ahead of us. Hope you saved room.

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) lives in Los Angeles, where she reads tarot and watches Marvel movies. You can check out more of her writing at linktr.ee/juliaglassman, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.