The Reasons Behind The Success of Avatar: The Way of Water


Natalie Waters

One of the many breathtaking movie posters of the new movie Avatar: The Way of Water

Natalie Waters, Photojournalist

Avatar: The Way of Water was recently released to theaters in mid-December of 2022. As soon as possible, reviews piled up and people came pouring into theaters. The first Avatar movie in 2009 is notorious for being the highest grossing movie in history at almost three billion dollars. Avatar: The Way of Water is quickly climbing the ranks; within three weeks, the movie has made one and a half billion dollars, and is expected to make much more. Some could credit its popularity to the outstanding GCI, the brilliant plot, or the beautifully crafted characters. In addition, the reason for the outstanding success of these movies is the love and effort that James Cameron puts into each of these films. 

James Cameron is a name known around the world. He will be remembered in history as a great filmmaker, some may say the best. Movies from the Terminator to Titanic, James Cameron has crafted some of the most famous movies of all time. So when Avatar was released in 2009, everyone rushed to the theaters in hopes of another Cameron masterpiece; they were not disappointed. The realistic blue characters shocked everyone, as no such CGI was ever seen before. This movie was beautifully crafted and carefully thought out. Thirteen years later, the second avatar came out, and no one knew how Cameron could top the last; however, he proved to everyone that he could. Emma Reiss (11) believes that “the second Avatar movie is better than the first. The characters and their movements looked so much more realistic.”

the characters and their movements looked so much more realistic

— Emma Reiss

In a recent interview with Variety, Cameron relays his feelings towards directing and filmmaking: “when somebody makes a film, all the other filmmakers gather around like a baby was being born. They all get involved in the process. And I think that’s the way it should be.” Cameron feels the Avatar series to be his “baby.” While Cameron was writing Avatar, he was the father of teenagers. He wanted to convey the idea that “your family’s your fortress.” So, he put a significant amount of emphasis on family and the true meaning of home in Avatar: The Way of Water. According to Cameron, he based each of Jake and Netiri’s children on his own children. He gave these characters their own thoughts and emotions and portrayed them very well in the movie. He allowed the audience to form a deep connection with each character, which led to the audience’s heightened emotional journey throughout the duration of the film.

Another message that Cameron attempts to get across to the audience is about the struggle between caretakers and takers. Cameron uses the indigenous people (the Na’vi) as an example of caretakers; “they’re the ones that have the power in our world right now to reconnect us with a vision of nature that’s more protective and cooperative and harmonious. If we don’t adopt that attitude, we will die out.” 

One of Cameron’s goals for his new film was to make the audience feel as if they were in Pandora, climbing with the Na’vi or learning to swim with Jake and Neytiri. As Cameron puts it: “It’s all about beauty and the promise of being transported to another world and getting to enjoy it.” Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water truly was a masterpiece, beautifully crafted and thoughtful, and we can’t wait to see what he’s planning next.