Avatar: The Way of Water is set to release later this year, but the film was quite different in its original form. And according to James Cameron, this version didn’t have what he wanted from an Avatar film.
Cameron spoke about developing the film in an interview with Total Film, and explained some of the differences. However, he said the concept ended up not playing enough by the “Avatar rules,” and didn’t connect to the dream world that Avatar has explored.
“We were noodling around,” said Cameron. “I was working with a team of writers. We had a lot of ideas. We kept trying to corral it into a box, and it never quite fit. So at a certain point, I said, ‘I’ll just finish it, and see if it’s a movie.’ I did. It came out, I think, at 130 pages. It was like, ‘Man, this is a great story. This is a hell of a read.’ But it was missing one of those critical elements about sequels, which is that it didn’t go enough into the unexpected. It also didn’t play enough by Avatar rules, which is to connect us to the dream world, that which has a spiritual component that we can’t even quite quantify in words. It ticked every other box, but it didn’t tick that one.”
Despite that concept not living up to Cameron’s standards, it will be used in another medium. This script was adapted into a graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics titled Avatar: The High Ground, which will release on December 6, 2022. It will tell the story of the Na’vi between the first movie and the upcoming The Way of Water. According to Cameron, there’s a lot of “great stuff” in The High Ground, including zero-G fights and more.
“We figured out a way to restructure the elements that we needed to distribute across the first two of the sequels, and relaunched it in a completely different way,” said Cameron. “There’s some great stuff in it,” he continues. “I mean, you’ve got the Na’vi fighting with bows and arrows in zero-G. I mean, I’m there! I want to see that movie. But it just didn’t achieve enough of the overall story and thematic goals that I had in mind. So we’re turning it into a Dark Horse graphic novel. You’ll be able to see that interim battle that took place between movie one and movie two.”
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