James and Na’vi plus three? Cameron not through with Avatar

BY ERIN MOYER ’16
Contributing Writer

A new strain of what has been termed the “Cameron Crazies” went viral in recent days, but unlike a number of things involving viruses this outbreak has nothing to do with Duke University.

Its origins, rather, have been traced to writer and director James Cameron, the Canadian-born part-man, part-machine who, in his past life, was the force behind blockbusters such as the Terminator franchise, Titanic, and last, but never least, Avatar.  

Mind-warping and genre-bending, Avatar was the smash sensation of 2009. It left audiences around the world wanting more, which, given its two hour and forty-two minute run time, was no small feat. A benevolent Father Cameron heard their cries and smilingly granted upon them not one, but two sequels! Avatar 2, coming in 2014! And then, just as miraculously, Avatar 3, coming in 2015!

The years have since slowly slipped by. Avatar 2, initially supposed to begin filming this fall, has had its release date postponed to 2015. Avatar 3’s release, meanwhile, has been pushed so far back into the nebulous that IMDb can only hazard a guess at the eventual premiere with four stricken-looking question marks.

Cameron, meanwhile, appears to be anything but stricken regarding the future of the franchise. He told The New York Times Media Decoder Blog that he is “in the Avatar business. Permanently,” meaning he has no intention of working with any other narrative for the rest of his career.

When asked to explain this sudden movie monogamy, he fluently articulated his innermost feelings: “Within the Avatar landscape I can say everything I need to say that I think needs to be said.” If he can only say everything he needs to say that he thinks needs to be said that elegantly through his blue-people preachers in the next two movies.

Though many moviegoers might wonder what deeper insights could possibly be unearthed within Pandora after Avatar’s relatively uncomplicated message of “Hey, don’t ruin the planet,” you may rest assured the artist formerly known as James Cameron has some tricks up his sleeve.

He has so many.

In fact, he has apparently begun to feel limited by his paltry scope of only two new sequels and has recently spoken of, yes, an Avatar 4.

The fourth movie will be a prequel to the first in a way that will in no manner imitate Star Wars by any stretch at all, never, of course not. Rather, the set-up will do what Cameron has remarked to be the logical next step in the story. He hopes to explore the world of Pandora and the catalyst of humanity’s failed relationship with the Na’vi, but also offer a historic (yet fictional) glimpse into the travels of early exhibitionists.

There is no telling how these latest chronicles of Pandora will play — or rather pan — out. There is no telling how old we will all be when we finally know for sure.

We can, however, pull one certainty out of Cameron’s “Avatar business”: these next three movies will be, for better or for worse, just as big a spectacle as the original.

Questions? Email Erin at emoyer@fandm.edu.

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