Why James Cameron Shows Pregnant Women In Battle In Avatar: The Way Of Water

Jake and Neytyri stand in the water with other Na'vi in Avatar: The Way of Water.
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

James Cameron has a solid reputation when it comes to bringing awesome female characters to the big screen. Between Sigourney Weaver’s return as Ripley in Aliens to Linda Hamilton’s turn as a self-made soldier in Terminator 2, or even Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri in 2009’s Avatar, the filmmaker clearly makes it a priority to bring to life women in his movies that others can look up to. This time around, for Avatar: The Way of Water, putting pregnant women at the forefront was especially important to Cameron. 

The Avatar sequel has Jake Sully and Neytiri having a family of their own much because James Cameron is a father of five himself and wanted to explore this in his latest movie. When speaking to why he included a pregnant Neytiri hunting early in Way of Water, along with his Titanic actress Kate Winslet’s character, Ronal, going into battle with a bun in the oven, the Titanic filmmaker said this: 

Everybody’s always talking about female empowerment. But what is such a big part of a woman’s life that we, as men, don’t experience? We get to experience war and that sort of thing and the women are sheltered because they are the fairer sex, so I thought, ‘Well, if you’re really going to go all the way down the rabbit hole of female empowerment, let’s have a female warrior who’s six months pregnant in battle.'

James Cameron cited his fifth wife Suzy Amis Cameron as an inspiration for the element of the movie, saying she’s often treated being pregnant as an “athletic event.” Plus, he’s been by her side as they’ve prepared for the birth three times over. The couple have three daughters together between the ages of 15 and 21, along with Cameron having a 29 year old daughter with ex Linda Hamilton, and a 32-year-old son with ex Sam Robards. Cameron continued: 

It doesn’t happen in our society—probably hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. But, I guarantee you, back in the day, women had to fight for survival and protect their children, and it didn’t matter if they were pregnant. And pregnant women are a lot more capable of being a lot more athletic than we, as a culture, acknowledge... To me, it was the last bastion that you don’t see. Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel – all these other amazing women come up, but they’re not moms and they’re not pregnant while they’re fighting evil.

Cameron’s words about the pregnant Na’vi women in Avatar: The Way of Water were said during a Variety conversation with fellow director Robert Rodriguez. As he pointed out, women have been pregnant since... well, always, and they’ve surely had to do difficult things like hunt and fight while creating life. The filmmaker shared that he’s yet to see a mother take the center stage of massive blockbusters like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, and felt like showing pregnant women in battle in his movie was the “last bastion” mainstream audiences had yet to see. 

Ahead of its second weekend in theaters during the holiday, Avatar: The Way of Water has made $609 million worldwide, not quite putting up Marvel numbers thus far. The franchise is expected to grow with more Avatar sequels, first with the third Avatar film, currently expected for a December 2024 release. We’re certainly excited to see how the new Avatar characters introduced in the sequel, including its badass women, continue to be developed moving forward! 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.