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It's been a minute since moviegoers have visited Pandora — the eco-friendly planet that James Cameron transferred from his brain onto the big screen in the 2009 global blockbuster, Avatar. But this December, it's time to set a course back into deep space as the director's long-in-the-works sequel finally arrives in theaters. The first teaser trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water played in front of this weekend's box office champ, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and now it's available online in all of its aquatic glory. (Watch the trailer above.)
In case you've forgotten, the original Avatar dispatched ex-Marine Jake Sully to Pandora, where his consciousness was downloaded into a body modeled after one of the planet's native tribes, the blue-skinned, super-tall Na'vi. After discovering that humanity's intentions for Pandora were far from virtuous, Jake allied himself with the indigenous population and made a love connection with the Na'vi warrior, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).
The Way of Water picks up over a decade later, and finds Jake and Neytiri happily raising a family in Pandora's lush jungles. But a new threat has emerged that requires the Na'vi to ally themselves with some of their homeworld's other tribes — a journey that takes them into the depths of the planet's vast oceans. The trailer shows off some of the photorealistic aquatic aliens the family encounters along the way, including whale-like creatures and winged crocodile-esque reptiles.
A dedicated deep sea explorer in real life, Cameron is pioneering new ways to photograph underwater environments with the second Avatar film. "The thing you have to remember is that we’re not doing underwater photography; we’re doing underwater performance capture," the Titanic director told Yahoo Entertainment in 2017, when the film started its lengthy production process. "Nobody’s ever done that before. Just like when I was making The Abyss and Titanic, I’m way out there in the wilderness doing new stuff."
But even amidst the supersized spectacle, Cameron has emphasized that the heart of The Way of Water — and the next three sequels to come — remains the love story between Jake and Neytiri. "We never take our eye off that ball," he observed in a 2019 interview with Yahoo Entertainment. "This [story] is about two people out of the entire universe who probably love each other more than anybody else. That doesn’t meant they don’t have their issues!"
On Twitter, the only issues that people are having with The Way of Water is whether or not the second film will reach the original's total global gross of $2.84 billion — a number that has yet to be bested. If you ask us, it's generally smart not to bet against James Cameron.
Here is our first look at AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. This looks AMAZING! pic.twitter.com/HrllRHsLZn
— The Oblivion Bar: A Nerd-Culture Podcast (@OblivionBarPod) May 9, 2022
i feel like avatar 2 will either make mad money or bomb and theres no in between
— fooly tk (@raharuburneracc) May 9, 2022
One last hot take: I hope the Avatar sequel bombs. The first Avatar movie was ok and definitely not a franchise worthy movie. But because it's James Cameron and the first movie made bank.
But we're more than a decade later and no one asked for this.
— Bruno-Pierre Campeau (@ZerodsWorkshop) May 9, 2022
i will not let anyone take away my hype for avatar the way of water, no matter HOW much hate the movie gets: I! AM! EXCITED!
— regan ♡ (@studiocalm) May 9, 2022
Something I noticed about the Avatar: The Way of Water trailer—and I'm not sure if this was super clear to everyone else—but the thing I noticed is that it appears that a potential important running motif throughout the film will be water.
— JJ (@jjdotbiz) May 9, 2022
People were gleeful about James Cameron's Titanic and Avatar failing before they came out, and I'm actually impressed so many people are willing to put themselves into that position again. Good luck!
— Jeff Grubb (@JeffGrubb) May 9, 2022
Avatar: The Way of Water premieres in theaters on Dec. 16