In the face of doubt and derision, a force that most all franchise films find themselves up against these days, Avatar: The Way of Water has nevertheless fulfilled its dual objectives. It serves as the next stepping stone in James Cameron’s flagship collection of sci-fi spectacles, as well as ensuring that Avatar 3 has a future of its own at the box office.
Indeed, Cameron’s hopes were riding on the long-awaited sequel making enough money to justify the exorbitant budgets that the Avatar films demand. With The Way of Water having already claimed the distinction of being the second-highest grossing film of 2022, currently with a return of nearly $1.2 billion, that ride wasn’t as bumpy as some people may have thought it was going to be.
Back to the matter at hand, Avatar 3 is officially hot on our heels, meaning that the decade-long feud between the fans of Avatar and Avatar: The Last Airbender looks set to reignite come 2024. If recent hints dropped by Cameron himself are any indication, fans of the critically acclaimed Nickelodeon franchise might be a bit more peeved than usual.
Cameron recently revealed in an interview with French outlet 20 Minutes that Avatar 3 will introduce a Na’vi tribe with a strong connection to fire, as The Way of Water did with the aquatically-inclined Metkayina tribe. On top of that, Cameron has also hinted that this particular Na’vi clan won’t be quite as friendly as the Metkayina and Omaticaya.
Those of you familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender have probably figured out where the fan grievances are coming from. It’s a well-known fact that the original Last Airbender cartoon featured the Fire Nation, a clan of fire-wielding humans, as the main antagonists of the show. With The Last Airbender having established itself long before Pandora made its bow, fans are wondering if Cameron is taking a bit too much inspiration from Avatar‘s similarly-named rival. Indeed, it seems that Giancarlo Volpe’s jest was a bit more prophetic than he may have liked.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a wave of internet reactions without a flurry of tweets making the same joke in a futile attempt to grasp for some myopic clout.
Perhaps we can chalk this one up as coincidence, likely brought on by the fact that fantasy worlds that heavily involve the four elements isn’t exactly the most original idea out there. Regardless of what the case is—or proves to be in the future—The Last Airbender will likely retain its cultural impact, and Avatar will just as likely retain its box office numbers. Be it Fire Nation or Ash People, the fans will still win.
Avatar: The Way of Water is currently playing in theaters.