James Cameron spent more than a decade developing ideas on how to make a sequel to his groundbreaking 2009 hit. Avatar – so naturally, not all ideas made the cut. In fact, Cameron threw a whole movie in order to revive the franchise with December the path of water. And with that script scrapped, Cameron launched a truly wild action sequence: an attack on incoming Earth ships by Jake Sully, Neytiri, and a mix of Na’vi and human allies. Fortunately, there are reasons to think that Cameron could pick up on the idea in a future sequel.
The scene comes from Avatar: The High Groundthe first script Cameron wrote as a direct sequel to Avatar. But according to writer Sherri L. Smith, who has adapted the high ground In the newly released Dark Horse graphic novel prequel trilogy, the more Cameron discussed his follow-up with the Avatar writers’ room, the more motivated he was to start the film later in the Pandoran timeline.
“The logical progression is to go chronologically,” Smith says of the development of the sequels, “So [Cameron] worked out day by day basically over the years everything that happens before The High Ground.That’s why the path of water He quickly narrates the years we don’t see, a sort of prologue summary of a movie Cameron never made.
Using both the 100-page script and the “Pandorapedia,” a bible for all things Avatar, Smith worked hand-in-hand with Cameron to adapt the high ground into a comic for me to click into the larger world of Avatar and naturally move on to the path of water. (“People ask, ‘Is it canon?’ I say, ‘Well, it’s 100% Cameron,’” says Smith.) And one of the key moments, spanning the 90-page three-book series, is the Na ‘I saw assault on Pandora-bound dropships commanded by General Frances Ardmore (played by Edie Falco in the film). while in the path of water the humans immediately return to Pandora and burn the land, the high ground he finds the Na’vi intercepting his ships with a plan to counterattack.
Like a comic the high ground is an exciting interlude full of dialogue-free splash page action. But as a movie, it may have been too much momentum too fast, for a set of characters Cameron needed to reestablish as dimensional and historical. As we see in the path of waterJake Sully and the Na’vi have a moral standard that is not easily sacrificed.
“[One key thing] what Pandorapedia is referring to is that the Na’vi aren’t warriors, technically,” says Smith. “They are hunters, they do not make war. They are peaceful and kill out of necessity. So when you see these big battles on screen or even in the book, it changes the cognitive dissonance that the Na’vi are going through having to take on human forms to fight humanity.”
the high ground It was enough in Cameron’s field that design work was done to decipher the sequence. Ben Procter, Avatar: The Path of WaterThe hard surface production designer says his team worked on “visually crazy” space designs when the high ground was in the exploration stage, and were derived from biosuit concepts inspired by designs by actual scientists and technicians. The hope was to move away from rigid and bulky spacesuits and towards a technology where the pressure vessel was brought closer to the skin of the Na’vi.
“In a biosuit, the stress lines and fold lines of the human body are incorporated where the threads are placed,” explains Procter. “All those beautiful motifs that you can see in the graphic novel of intersecting diagonal bands… They are all meaningful, creating a web that crosses the joints in a certain way that allows for flexibility. That’s a long way of saying: the costumes are based on real things, it’s a cool take on sci-fi, and Jim likes to make things real whenever he can.”
Costume designer Deborah L. Scott says the Na’vi siege of spaceships never came the path of water script, and she’s not upset about it. Every piece of costume in the Avatar sequel was physically designed for the actors to wear during performance capture, so they can interact realistically, and so Cameron’s team understands material movement. But that led to all sorts of nightmares: a pair of Na’vi-sized sunglasses even had to be found, modified, and fitted to wear during “filming.” Creating biosuits for Jake and Neytiri would have been quite the task. “It was hard enough to make the hospital gowns that fit those guys,” says Scott.
Could Cameron return to the “Na’vi in Space” sequence in a future sequel? Scott isn’t ruling it out, and neither is the path of water cinematographer Russell Carpenter. While Carpenter makes fun of it avatar 3 involving even more underwater shooting for even bigger aquatic action sequences, leaves the door open for a space stunt.
“Jim is playing a very long game here,” he says. “And there will be aspects of this cosmology that we haven’t seen and that haven’t been revealed yet.”
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