A Wounded Warrior Returns in 'Avatar: The Way of Water'

Avatar The Way of Water
"Avatar: The Way of Water" (20th Century Studios)

When "Avatar: The Way of Water" premieres in theaters on Dec. 16, 2022, it will have been 13 years since the first movie came out and broke every box-office record in the known universe. That's an almost unimaginable gap between a movie and its sequel.

Wait, you ask, what about that Navy aviator movie, the one that made fans wait 36 years for a sequel? That's a good point, but everyone involved with "Top Gun" went on to make dozens of movies and television shows while they waited for someone to come up with a good idea for another movie.

Director James Cameron hasn't made another movie since the release of "Avatar." He announced plans for a sequel almost right away after the first one, and he's been working on the new one ever since. Well, that's not exactly accurate. He's been working on "Avatar: The Way of Water," plus three more sequels set to be released in December 2024, 2026 and 2028.

The director has gifted us with a teaser trailer for the first sequel.


The original movie follows the adventures of disabled Marine veteran Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), who's lost the use of his legs in combat. Recruited for an undercover mission on the planet Pandora, he takes control of an avatar that's part human and part Na'vi, the life form native to the planet. Thrilled by the full range of motion, he falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) and eventually realizes that Earth forces are willing to destroy Pandora in pursuit of the rare mineral unobtanium. The Na'vi protect their planet, and the culture's magic transfers Sully's soul into his avatar.

Cameron has always been a director who pushes to the edge of the envelope when it comes to computer-generated movie imagery, and the new trailer shows off just how much work he has been doing over the past decade-plus. The footage is spectacular.

What we don't get is a sense of what the plot will be for "Avatar: The Way of Water." The studio has announced that the action will pick up a decade after the ending of the first movie and that Jake and Neytiri will face a new threat to their way of life.

Stephen Lang played Col. Miles Quaritch in the first movie, and despite the fact that his character appeared to die, he's told fans that Quaritch will be back for at least "Avatar: The Way of Water" and the next sequel. The movie will also feature Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement and Kate Winslet.

If you're too young to have seen "Avatar" on a big screen, Disney's 20th Century Studios will release the original movie in theaters on Sept. 23, 2022.

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