How Does Avatar: The Way of Water Connect to the Original?

The next big cinematic event is coming, and you don't want to miss it.

by J.R. Waugh
Image: 20th Century Studios

Avatar: The Way of Water is a huge deal in terms of high-profile blockbuster cinema, as the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time. When Avatar came out in 2009, it dominated box offices and public discourse for its monumental achievements in pioneering filmmaking techniques and influenced many industries for years to follow. If not for Avatar, 3D would not be nearly as common or refined as it is in the present, and The Way of Water looks to double down on that innovation while telling a new story, connecting to the first film while telling its own original tale.

Will Avatar: The Way of Water Be a Sequel to the Original 2009 Hit?

Yes, Avatar: The Way of Water is a sequel to 2009’s Avatar, but it will take place over a decade after the original film, and much like its predecessor, it will tell a self-contained story. While there are a set of 4 planned sequels to Avatar, each story is meant to connect to the series’ world, while incorporating characters introduced in each installment. Even saying this it sounds like any other sequel, but in the days of the MCU, this means that you don’t have to necessarily watch each installment to be able to drop in, understand, and enjoy each story.

How Does Avatar 2 Connect to the First Avatar?

While this film is certainly more aquatic-themed, the story still takes place on Pandora, but showcases more biomes of the world, and features characters from the original including Jake Sully and Neytiri. While the story takes place more than a decade after the events of the first film, it appears the Resources Development Administration (RDA) continues to have a villainous presence. Parker Selfridge, one of the human antagonists from the first film, makes a return, as well as an apparently revived Miles Quaritch (as a Na’vi Recombinant) and new leadership figures, including General Frances Ardmore, played by Edie Falco.

While it’s unclear exactly what the RDA’s goals are, there’s certainly a personal edge to their beef with the Na’vi, having been expelled from Pandora after the Na’vi rebellion in the first film. Quaritch in particular will likely serve as the overarching antagonist across all 5 films, as noted by his presence in the first film, described by Deadline Hollywood as “Avatar’s Darth Vader.” The world of Pandora in Avatar as a series will be fleshed out over the course of these films, with characters and their motivations, actions, and achievements to carry over and build lore and entice new and old fans alike.

Avatar: The Way of Water will release worldwide exclusively in theaters on December 16, 2022.

- This article was updated on November 27th, 2022

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