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 is finally released on Disney+ today (7 June).
The eco epic returns to the planet of Pandora, as we pick up the story of the Na’vi and the Sully family. With returning faces and some new ones: Avatar: The Way of Water is 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.
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, and more.
Avatar: The Way of Water Disney+ release date
James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water will stream on Disney+ globally from today, 7 June, following its VOD digital release earlier this year. According to Disney, the release on its streaming platform will also include bonus content featuring filmmakers, cast and crew.
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.
Worthington told Yahoo that he relished the heavy visual effects process behind the new movie, saying: "The technology for us doesn't change, but the environment changed. Where we film, called the Volume, was now underwater.
"But we knew that was gonna lend itself to the authenticity of what we were doing. That's a new challenge, but that's what Jim is about.
"Jim isn't gonna make a movie if it's just the same story and the same tech. He's gonna keep pushing what film can do and what tools he's got."
Also back for more is Zoe Saldaña as Neytiri, who is Jake’s Na’vi wife and future leader of the clan. She's the mother to Jake's four children, one of which is adopted.
"[Cameron] had been saying for years that the next challenge, and the next step, is to go into the water," Saldana told Yahoo UK.
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. Talking to her new character, Weaver told us: "We actually had lunch in 2010 and just sort of talked about this idea of a character — a girl who was somehow related to Grace and maybe had her curiosity and love of nature, who felt more at home in the forest than she did with people. She was kind of a different girl. So I knew that basic stuff."
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. "He is Quaritch but he's kind of Quaritch-plus — or Quaritch-minus. He's Quaritch redux, but it's different," Lang told Yahoo.
The actor said he relished the opportunity to work with Cameron again, even if the filmmaker works his actors hard on the set.
"He's a hard taskmaster on himself and I think he demands through the example he sets that you bring your A-game," Lang told Yahoo UK.
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.
Flatters, who makes his feature debut in Avatar 2, said: "The weird phenomenon with this one is that we've had so much time with this film that we've had many years not filming anything waiting for this thing to come out.
"We've already been able to come to peace with the filming process we had. So it's nice to now have the aftermath of it."
Bailey Bass, who plays Metkayina clan member Tsireya, told Yahoo UK there were 'lots of tears of joy and gratitude' at the cast screening.
She added: "We were able to watch as if we weren't a part of it. Not because we didn't recognise ourselves. I think it's really easy for us to recognise ourselves because it's performance-capture and they're going into every pore of our body."
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 clan leader called Ronal. Winslet says both she and director James Cameron were 'older and wiser' on Avatar: The Way of Water than when they first worked together on Titanic.
"I think we're just older, wiser, different people. Creatively, hopefully, I've gone away and learned a lot of things and he has, for sure, evolved enormously as a director and as a person," Winslet told Yahoo UK.
Ronal is pregnant during the film, which Winslet describes as being a hugely important facet of the character as "pregnant women are capable of doing a lot".
She added: "People don't always necessarily think that. Jim knows what women are capable of, and is totally in awe of it.
"I love that he included that in his film because he clearly has so much admiration for the physical ability of pregnant women. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of."
Avatar: The Way of Water story
Avatar: The Way of Water will account for the time gap between movies and picks up over a decade after Jake Sully left his human body behind.
The movie tells 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, the two civilisations are initially at odds with each other.
If the name didn’t already give it away, The Way of Water has 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.
Producer Jon Landau said he believes the franchise's strong environmental message has the potential to 'inspire' audiences.
"I think initially, when we were making the first Avatar, it was something the studio had to be convinced wasn't a negative," Landau told Yahoo UK of talking about climate change on screen.
He added: "What we tried to say to them is that we have a responsibility to tell stories that have societal themes."
"I think that Avatar illustrated that we can entertain but we can still inspire. Avatar: The Way of Water is a continuation of that."
Avatar: The Way of Water run time
The Avatar sequel is longer than its predecessor, and The Way of the Water is 192 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.
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.
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 is available to stream on Disney+ from today.