The love of money is the root of all evil so we have to suffer through four Avatar sequels.
Remember Avatar (2009)? If you were around in 2009 you might have been one of the multitudes that helped James Cameron’s sci-fi epic earn a cool $2.788 billion at the world box office, the highest earnings for a film. Ever. Well, without adjusting for inflation.
The film was critically praised and critically panned, spurring a fever pitch of opinion articles about how awful it was even from people who hadn’t seen the film. The late Roger Ebert was a fan, praising the film as “…a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings” and “one those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.”
Over the years Avatar developed a weird reputation for its eye-roll inducing unlikability. Even on its rapid incline into box office glory and adulation about its technological advancements (one of the reasons why it took ten years to make), Avatar couldn’t escape its noticeable racist subtext. In an op-ed for the New York Times, David Brooks criticized the film for its White savior narrative in weaved into the film’s simplistic storytelling, writing: “‘Avatar’ is a racial fantasy par excellence. The hero is a white former Marine who is adrift in his civilization. He ends up working with a giant corporation and flies through space to help plunder the environment of a pristine planet and displace its peace-loving natives. The peace-loving natives — compiled from a mélange of Native American, African, Vietnamese, Iraqi and other cultural fragments — are like the peace-loving natives you’ve seen in a hundred other movies. They’re tall, muscular and admirably slender. They walk around nearly naked. They are phenomenal athletes and pretty good singers and dancers.”
The announcement of the Avatar sequels has baffled the American public especially netizens for the last eight years. Once in awhile publications would update the general public about Avatar 2’s rough start, the film having been pushed back several times. Avatar’s director, writer, and creator, James Cameron, hasn’t made any other film since 2009 to solely focus on making its sequels. Cameron made some rumblings when he reemerged to reinsert himself back into the pop-culture lexicon (lest we take him for granted) by criticizing the praise Wonder Woman (2017) received because its titular female character wasn’t groundbreaking. The man making five sequels to a shiny mediocre blockbuster that everyone forgot about criticized someone else for not being groundbreaking.
It’s been pointed out that Avatar didn’t have the cultural impact that the Star Wars franchise or the Marvel franchise have, with reliable fanbases to sustain interest in between films. According to Variety, 21st Century Fox is sinking a billion dollars to fund the franchise. It’s clear Fox is gunning for the international box office to pay back its giant investment. Fine, filmmaking is a business, but it’s also supposed to be an art and like all good art should be subjected to criticism. There are thousands of filmmakers and screenwriters creating fresh, new, original content that Fox could be investing in with that money.
Okay, so it was inevitable that the original Avatar would be slated for a sequel. After all, you can’t get away with making a billion dollars in Hollywood without milking that cash cow — but why four films?
No, seriously, why?