Watch the Avatar: The Way of Water teaser trailer
We’re diving back into the magical world of James Cameron’s Avatar, as the long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water comes swimming into view for release this coming Christmas.
The eco epic returns to the planet of Pandora, as we once again pick up the story of the Na’vi and the Sully family. With returning faces and some new ones, expect Avatar: The Way of Water to be a suitably A-list affair.
Praised for its pioneering visuals and immersive setting, the first Avatar broke records to become the highest-grossing movie of all time in 2009.
Read more: Hollywood star regrets turning down Avatar
Avatar held this record held until it was toppled by Avengers: Endgame in 2019 (it subsequently reclaimed the crown in 2021 when it was re-released), which is a pressure Cameron himself admits to feeling when it comes to the sequel.
If you’re ready, let’s jump into the vast oceans of Pandora with everything we know about Avatar: The Way of Water’s cast, story, release date, and more.
Avatar: The Way of Water cast
With Avatar: The Way of Water being a direct sequel to 2009’s original, it’s no surprise that Sam Worthington is reprising his role as Jake Sully.
After taking part in the Avatar Program, Sully decided to leave his human body behind to permanently join the Na’vi by the end of Avatar. Also back for more is Zoe Saldaña as Neytiri, who is Jake’s Na’vi wife and future leader of the clan.
Confusingly, Sigourney Weaver returns for The Way of Water following the death of Dr. Grace Augustine in the first Avatar.
This time around, she’s a new Na’vi character called Kiri — Jake and Neytiri’s adoptive teenage daughter.
Other returnees include Giovanni Ribisi’s Parker Selfridge, the corporate administrator for the RDA mining operation, as well as Joel David Moore’s Dr. Norm Spellman, and CCH Pounder’s Mo'at — the mother of Neytiri.
The final familiar face is Stephen Lang’s Colonel Miles Quaritch. Even though Avatar’s big bad perished before the final credits, Lang confirmed he’ll appear in the first three movies, stating: "I'm not going to say exactly how we're bringing him back, but it's a science fiction story, after all.”
Images from the sequel reveal Quaritch returns in the body of a Na'vi avatar.
There are plenty of newcomers here, with Jake and Neytiri now having a whole brood of children. Jamie Flatters plays firstborn Neteyam, Britain Dalton is second-born son Lo'ak, Trinity Bliss plays their daughter, Tuktirey. Alongside Weaver’s adopted Kiri, Jack Champion players a Pandora-born human called. Javier "Spider" Socorro.
Rounding off the Avatar: The Way of Water cast, Fear the Walking Dead’s Cliff Curtis plays the leader of the nautical Metkayina reef clan, The Sopranos’ Edie Falco is the RDA’s General Ardmore, and What We Do in the Shadows’ Jermaine Clement is marine biologist Dr. Ian Garvin.
Finally, the A-list credentials see Kate Winslet as a Metkayina free diver called Ronal, Michelle Yeoh as the human Dr. Karina Mogue, and mysterious roles for CJ Jones and Vin Diesel.
Avatar: The Way of Water story
Avatar: The Way of Water will account for the time gap between movies and reportedly pick up over a decade after Jake Sully left his human body behind.
The movie will tell the story of Jake, Neytiri, and their children as they chart “the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.”
Speaking to Total Film, producer Jon Landau explained, “If you think about this, there’s really no more universal theme than family. At the centre of each of our sequels is the Sully family. What are the dynamics that parents go through to protect their family?"
The RDA mining operation returns to Pandora and forces the Sully family to seek refuge in the seemingly safe harbour of the reef. Leaving the rainforest behind them, they’re thrown into an unknown terrain of friends and foes.
Similar to the conflict between the Wakandans and Atlantians in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we guess these two civilisations will be at odds with each other.
If the name didn’t already give it away, The Way of Water will have a suitably underwater theme. Speaking at CinemaCon 2022, Cameron promised that The Way of Water will “wow” with its visual effects.
This is mixed with the practical, as actors including the younger cast and Winslet had to learn to free dive. The latter beat Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation stunt and broke a new Hollywood record by holding her breath for seven minutes during an underwater scene.
Pivoting its message from saving the rainforest, The Way of Water covers how humanity is ravaging the oceans.
Discussing his love of the deep blue, Cameron told Entertainment Weekly, “I do the ocean thing when I'm not making movies.
"So if I could combine my two greatest loves — one of which is ocean exploration; the other, feature filmmaking — why wouldn't I?" It remains to be seen whether the following movies will have a new eco message.
Avatar: The Way of Water run time
The Avatar sequel is rumoured to be 29 minutes longer than its predecessor, with The Hollywood Reporter claiming that Avatar: The Way of the Water will be three hours and 10 minutes long.
James Cameron is no stranger to epic run times for his movies though with Titanic clocking in at three hours and 14 minutes, and the first Avatar at two hours, 41 minutes. Both movies topped the all-time global box office chart upon release, a feat the director will hope to repeat with the sequel.
Avatar: The Way of Water trailer
The first full trailer for Avatar: The Way Of Water was released on 2 November, returning viewers to the planet of Pandora nearly 13 years on.
The teaser introduces Jake and Neytiri Sully and their children more than a decade after the events of the first film.
In dramatic fashion, viewers are taken below the waves of the ocean and shown a number of fantastic creatures resembling colourful jellyfish, whales and large winged fish.
Jake is seen teaching his daughter to hunt using a bow, as she tells him: “Dad, you know I think I am crazy but I feel her. I hear her heartbeat. She is so close.”
He asks: “So what does her heartbeat sound like?” before she replies, “Mighty”.
The main trailer follows the more cryptic teaser that was released in May, 2022.
Avatar: The Way of Water release date
After what seems like an eternity of waiting, Avatar: The Way of Water plans to make a splash in cinemas on 16 December, 2022. This marks a whopping 13 years since the first movie soared to the top of the box office.
If you’ve been hearing about Avatar 2 for a while, that’s because it’s faced delay after delay since it went into development in 2010. To whet our appetite for The Way of Water, the first Avatar returns to cinemas on 23 September.
If 20th Century Fox shifting the release date — and then being bought by Disney — wasn’t enough, COVID-19 muddied the waters. Cameron has promised it won’t launch on streaming, and instead, praises the Marvel Cinematic Universe for helping this kind of blockbuster return to the silver screen following the pandemic.
How many Avatar sequels will there be?
If you thought this was the end of the road for Avatar, Cameron still has grand plans for a saga of five movies, referring to Avatar as “a generational family saga” akin to The Godfather trilogy.
Following The Way of Water, there are rumoured titles of Avatar: The Seed Bearer (December 20, 2024), Avatar: The Tulkun Rider (December 18, 2026), and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa (December 22, 2028).
Read more: Has James Cameron spoiled the end of Avatar?
Cameron filmed Avatar 3 simultaneously alongside The Way of Water, so that’s good news for those who are disappointed that Avatar 2 will release eight years after it was originally supposed to.
Avatar: Way of the Water hits cinemas on 16 December.