James Cameron's Avatar broke box office records upon release, and here's everything that's known about the story for his long-awaited sequel, Avatar 2? Avatar 2 as been in production for over a decade now, and visionary director James Cameron has been planning the sequel since before the first movie was even released back in late 2009. Sci-fi fans have been eagerly awaiting the film's arrival, desperate to see what the creator of blockbusters such as The Terminator and Titanic has been tinkering away on for over a decade.

But Avatar 2's long production process has been causing concern amongst a lot of film fans. Despite Avatar's box office success, Cameron's original film was divisive and one flaw that many critics found with the film was its focus on impressive visuals over plot and character. As such, fans are understandably concerned by the gradually emerging stories of James Cameron developing new filmmaking technology for the sequel, as this may mean Avatar 2 will focus on aesthetics over content (again). Some fans want to hear more plot details to assuage their fears, and very little information is forthcoming. But despite these reasonable concerns a lot of sci-fi fans are more than happy with the sheer technical marvel and visual spectacle of the movies and are certain that Avatar's sequels are worth their $1 billion budget.

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Related: Avatar 2: What James Cameron's Sci-fi Sequel Needs To Fix From The First Movie

Despite Cameron remaining as tight-lipped as ever about Avatar 2 details, a few stray story elements, character reveals, and technological achievements have been let slip from the set. Viewers may not know a lot about the upcoming return to Pandora, but the film is confirmed to feature a time jump and a focus on family in its plot. Similarly, very little is known for certain about the film's casting, but Stephen Lang's villain will be back (from the dead, somehow), and the movie will feature a lot of underwater action, necessitating all manner of new tech to be developed by Avatar 2's production team.

Avatar 2's Time Jump

Avatar 2 Concept Art Floating Islands

Some details about the sequel can be gleaned from a glance at set photos from Avatar 2, but fans needed Cameron's input to confirm one pivotal detail of the film's plot. According to the director, Avatar 2 will feature an eight-year time jump, and with it will come the arrival of a new character. Our protagonists from the first film Jake and Neytiri wasted no time getting down to business after the first film ended, as their daughter will be eight years old at the start of Avatar 2. Whether it's all spectacle and no substance or an unexpectedly deeper, stronger sequel like Terminator 2: Judgement Day remains to be seen, but it's undeniably exciting to hear that Avatar 2 is intended to be a family story.

Avatar 2 Will Focus on Family

Producer Jon Landau revealed that both Avatar 2 and its subsequent sequels will focus on family as their overarching theme, while the films themselves will also function as standalone stories. Despite some fans' certainty that Avatar 2 won't beat Avengers: Endgame at the box office, the decision to make the series a family-centric franchise is a canny one which may benefit the creator's chances. The decision is likely intended to mirror the MCU's focus on a wide array of heroes rather than a lone protagonist. Landau confirmed that Avatar 2 and the franchise installments which follow the 2022 film will create an epic story that tells the tale of one family through a massive, multi-film saga, not unlike the Skywalker saga of the Star Wars series.

It's a format that can be adapted to include spinoff films, meaning there's little limit to how much the Avatar franchise can grow. Given the film's ambition, it's inarguable that Avatar 2 will be one of the biggest movies of 2022 (if it isn't delayed again). Not only will the family story expand the already large cast, Avatar 2's focus on the next generation of Na'vi means that the movie will explore the world of Pandora, as Jake and his newfound brood will encounter both new tribes of Na'vi and explore new parts of the film's fictional universe Pandora. This will entail some exploration of the planet's oceans too, a unique proposition that has led Cameron to develop new film making technology for just this purpose.

Avatar 2's Underwater Technology

Avatar 2 Underwater Set with James Cameron

According to Cameron, a big chunk of Avatar 2's action will take place underwater. This created some unusual problems for the filmmaker, who has spent the last decade adapting the motion-capture technology utilized in Avatar to function underwater. James Cameron's Avatar 2 has been delayed six times now, so understandably even die-hard fans are wondering whether the long-awaited sci-fi installment will ever actually be released. But this technological block makes the delays understandable, as Cameron and co. have been working to develop new filmmaking techniques and equipment for the sequel. As water behaves differently from air onscreen, it took the production some years to develop the cameras and motion-capture alternatives required for these scenes. At the same time, the cast of Avatar 2 needed to hone their breath-holding abilities, as Cameron is not using scuba technology while filming the actors underwater.

Related: Avatar 2: Why James Cameron Is Making So Many Sequels

Avatar's Villain Returns for Avatar 2

Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in James Cameron's Avatar

As mixed as Avatar's reception was, some stars such as Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver were singled out for praise. But the film's high body count prompted fans to wonder how much of the original cast will be back for the next franchise installment. Out of all the characters returning for Avatar 2, the name which has prompted the most excitement has to be Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch. Not only is the hammy, larger-than-life villain of the first film back for Avatar 2, but Cameron also confirmed his character will be returning for all the subsequent sequels despite him previously dying onscreen in Avatar. Then again, it wouldn't be a James Cameron franchise without a few insane plot twists, and death never stopped Arnold Schwarzenegger from reprising his iconic Cameron-indebted role as the Terminator.

Many fans feel the return of the Avatar franchise proves 2020 movies are bringing back smart sci-fi, so Avatar 2 will be arriving with great expectations when it does finally land in theaters. That said, if there's any director who can wow an audience despite fever pitch hype, it's James Cameron.

More: Every James Cameron Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

Key Release Dates
  • Avatar 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
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