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Avatar 2: What We Know So Far

Neytiri in Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

We have seen countless major movie franchises come and go, but few have had the global appeal of James Cameron's Avatar, which continues to hold the record as the highest-grossing movie of all time, pulling in $2.845 billion worldwide. The year 2022 saw the reveal of Avatar 2’s official title – Avatar: The Way of Water – along with a visually stunning first trailer and special footage shown at CinemaCon, which boosted fan anticipation by lightyears. 

Luckily, after patiently waiting for sequels to arrive ever since the original was first released in 2009, the wait will finally be over soon. In fact, the day when the next chapter in the Avatar franchise hits theaters is where we shall start in our breakdown of everything we know about the blockbuster so far.

Avatar 2: The Way of Water screenshot

(Image credit: Fox/Disney)

Avatar: The Way Of Water Is Due In December 2022 

Originally set for release back in 2015, Avatar: The Way of Water has suffered one delay after another in the years following. Situations that led to this extended wait would involve the surprise addition of the fifth installment in 2016, the Disney/Fox merger in 2017, and, of course, the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020. Luckily, it was in September of that year when James Cameron confirmed that principal photography had wrapped on Avatar 2 and that the third installment was also almost finished. By then, the film had been set for its current theatrical release on December 16, 2022.

Shot from Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: Disney)

James Cameron Returns To Direct Avatar: The Way Of Water

The first Avatar was truly a passion project for James Cameron, as the filmmaker spent years and years developing both the script and the technological advancements that it needed to be made. So, you didn't really expect him to hand off the sequels to someone else, did you? Cameron has come back for not just Avatar: The Way of Water, but for the third, fourth, and fifth installments as well.

He has some big plans for the technological side of things, and has talked about both filming at higher frame rates and using performance capture underwater. You can be sure that the sequel will push the boundaries of what can be accomplished in modern filmmaking. Cameron wants to show that the first film's success was not a fluke, and the director is certainly not expecting success to come automatically to the Avatar sequels simply because the first one did well.

Jake Sully peering through plants in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

James Cameron Co-Wrote Avatar 2 With Josh Friedman

James Cameron was the lone credited screenwriter on the first Avatar movie, but for the four sequels he has brought in a full team of collaborators who have helped him break down all upcoming chapters of the franchise. Josh Friedman, who penned Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds remake with David Koepp and developed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles for television, was the first one to sign on and is credited as the co-screenwriter for Avatar: The Way of Water.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes veterans Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and Armageddon's Shane Salernowill also be working side-by-side with Cameron on further sequels, which will introduce "whole new worlds, habitats, and cultures." This very well could mean that we will get to meet some new kinds of intelligent alien species.

While the Avatar sequels were written as one large, ever expanding beast, and are being largely filmed together, we're being told that each of the upcoming movies are being created as standalone films, rather than being four parts of a larger story. While speaking about Toruk, the Cirque du Soleil Avatar prequel, Cameron spilled the beans on a major theme for the planned films: family:

The storyline in the sequels really follows Jake and Neytiri and their children. It's more of a family saga about the struggle with the humans.

A major plot detail that we do know about Avatar: The Way of Water is that the story will be focused around the oceans of the planet Pandora, and what details we have about new characters would appear to confirm that much.

Jake and Neytyri stand in the water with other Na'vi in Avatar: The Way of Water.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Avatar 2’s Plot Involves Jake And Neytiri’s New Family And A Water-Based Na’vi Tribe

In 2016, while promoting Cirque du Soleil’s live Avatar prequel, Toruk, James Cameron teased that the sequels - which were still in their early development at the time - would be a family saga, following the continuing adventures of Jake Sully, Neytiri, and their children. That description was essentially echoed by producer Jon Landau in 2020, when he provided more specific details about the plot of Avatar: The Way of Water, long before the then-rumored title was confirmed.

Landau added that Jake and Neytiri’s family would be forced to leave their home and explore the further regions of Pandora, especially those that are overridden with water. It may be safe to assume that this is where they will become acquainted with an aquatic Na’vi tribe known as the Metkayina.

Sam Worthington in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: Disney)

Sam Worthington And Other Cast Veterans Return In Avatar 2

As the plot details above would suggest, Australian actor Sam Worthington and MCU star Zoe Saldana have signed a deal to reprise human-turned-Na’vi Jake Sully and his native-born lover (and fierce warrior), Neytiri, respectively, in the Avatar: The Way of Water cast and in subsequent sequels. Other Avatar veterans joining them on this new journey include Dileep Rao as Dr. Max Patel, Joel David Moore as Jake’s human buddy and Na’vi enthusiast Norm Spellman, Giovanni Ribisi as the greedy RDA administrator Parker Selfridge, and CCH Pounder as the Na’vi’s spiritual leader, Mo’at.

Another cast member whose return is more surprising is James Cameron’s Oscar-nominated Aliens star, Sigourney Weaver, as the late Dr. Grace Augustine, despite previously claiming to be in a new role for the sequel. Also reportedly back from the dead is Stephen Lang as the ruthless Col. Miles Quaritch despite receiving two arrows to the chest, along with Matt Gerald as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet, who was crushed by a hammerhead titanothere. 

Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown trailer Season 1

(Image credit: HBO)

Kate Winslet And Other Franchise Newcomers Join The Avatar 2 Cast

Also reuniting with James Cameron for Avatar: The Way of Water is Titanic cast lead and Academy Award winner Kate Winslet as Ronal - a new character from the Metkayina tribe, whose chief, Tonowari, is played by Cliff Curtis. Other newcomers include Game of Thrones vet Oona Chaplin as Varang (whose crucial role in the story has yet to be revealed), Jemaine Clement (according to Twitter) and Michelle Yeoh as human scientists Ian Garvin and Karine Mogue, respectively, and Edie Falco as Gen. Ardmore and Brendan Cowell as Capt. Mike Scorseby from the RDA. Apparently, Zoe Saldana’s Guardians of the Galaxy co-star, Vin Diesel has been cast, but - along with Baby Driver’s C.J. Jones - his role remains undisclosed.

There are also many young newcomers in the Avatar 2 cast, such as the three playing Jake and Neytiri’s children - Jamie Flatters as oldest son, Neteyam, Britain Dalton as middle child, Lo'ak, and youngest child, and only daughter, Tuktirey, played by Trinity Bliss. Youngsters from the Metkayina tribe include Filip Geljo as Tonowari’s son, Aonung, Bailey Bass as freediver Tsireya, and Duane Evans Jr. Roxto. Playing a human named Javier 'Spider' Socorro is Jack Champion.

Underwater shot from Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: Disney)

Many Avatar 2 Sequences Were Actually Filmed Underwater

No discussion about Avatar is complete without mentioning the technology involved. The Academy Award-winning visual effects for the first film by Weta Digital sparked a major revolution in the movie industry, particularly its cutting-edge use of performance capture before it became a far more common process. It has, of course, been used again to make Avatar: The Way of Water, but the sequel is also charting new territory with the method.

James Cameron, the crew, and the cast (in full performance capture) went as far as actually submerging themselves to film sequences that take place underwater. Kate Winslet reportedly managed to stay underwater seven minutes at time while playing Ronal. Cameron also talked to Vanity Fair about filming in a large tank with some of the younger new cast members who, not being able to speak, used a “kind of sign language” to convey their dialogue.

Jake rides a winged creature over the ocean in Avatar: The Way of Water.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Future Sequels

Following Avatar: The Way of Water, there will be at least three more movies. Avatar 3 was filmed concurrently with Avatar 2, is currently scheduled for release on December 20, 2023, and was mostly finished as of late 2021. As was Avatar 4, which is currently set to come out on December 16, 2026.

The fourth installment actually went a few years without a proper greenlight from Disney as it was being developed. The same goes for Avatar 5, which is slated for December 22, 2028, at the moment.

Despite its success, it is no secret that Avatar had its critics. However, it appears that the ones who truly do still have a special place in their hearts for the action-packed, visually stunning sci-fi spectacle will have the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Pandora for the next few years. The journey continues when Avatar: The Way of Water comes to theaters soon.

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.