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The Avatar Sequel We Never Got Would Have Explored Jake And Neytiri's Fierce Days As Warriors

In less than two weeks, "Avatar: The Way of Water" will finally arrive in theaters, with it set to tell the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) as they form a life and family together more than a decade after the events of the first James Cameron film. But did you know that there was actually another "Avatar" movie written and planned before "The Way of Water," which had a script and everything?

Fans of the growing science-fiction franchise have had to spend the past 13 years waiting for a follow-up to be churned out by 20th Century Studios and Cameron, who famously penned multiple stories for "Way of Water" and at least three other sequels. The "Aliens" and "Terminator" director even went so far as to throw out an entire early draft — made up of about 130 pages — because it wasn't "subconscious" enough. 

"All films work on different levels," Cameron explained to The Times UK in September 2022. "The first is surface, which is character, problem and resolution, The second is thematic. What is the movie trying to say? But 'Avatar' also works on a third level, the subconscious ... I wrote an entire script for the sequel, read it and realized that it did not get to level three. Boom. Start over. That took a year."

According to the official "Avatar: The Way of Water" synopsis, Jake and Neytiri's story will be rooted in their relationship with their children, three of whom are Na'vi. Another is an orphaned human boy. But how did Jake and Neytiri get to this point, and what exactly happened during the years between the "Avatar" and "The Way of Water" films? Well, that's where "Avatar 1.5" comes in.

James Cameron wrote a secret script with clan battles

As explained by Sam Worthington at a recent "Avatar: The Way of Water" press event, it's the "Avatar" movie that fans will likely beg to be released for years to come, with it supposedly providing an in-depth look at Jake and Neytiri's early warrior years as Na'vi clan leaders. The "Clash of the Titans" and "Under the Banner of Heaven" star actually got to see and read the "Avatar 1.5" script with his own two eyes after James Cameron decided to use it as a point of reference and starting place for him and the cast.

"[James Cameron] gave me a script that was 'Avatar 1.5,' that unto itself is amazing and detailed and full of what they've kind of gone through over that gap," Worthington explained. "Part of that story was about them being warriors and taking on the battles of other clans and things like that ... It gave us a good jumping-off point to understand how to fill in that gap that's missing. To be honest, most people would've stuck on that one, but not [Cameron]."

According to Worthington, Cameron ultimately wanted to explore a more natural extension of the Jake and Neytiri love story through their children and family struggles rather than making an "Avatar" war movie. 

Will Avatar fans ever get to see the scrapped script?

Will fans of the franchise ever get to see "Avatar 1.5"? With "Way of Water," the path for the "Avatar" franchise has been officially charted. However, there is hope that Cameron's "Avatar 1.5" could be adapted for a different medium. Or maybe it already has?  

Consider Cameron's original 130 page script for the sequel, which he threw out because it failed to tackle the subconscious. Titled "The High Ground," the script has been repurposed into a Dark Horse graphic novel. "We figured out a way to restructure the elements that we needed to distribute across the first two of the sequels, and relaunched it in a completely different way," Cameron told Total Film magazine (via GamesRadar) a month prior to "The Way of Water's" release. "You'll be able to see that interim battle that took place between movie one and movie two," Cameron teased. 

"The High Ground" has been explicitly dubbed as a prequel to "The Way of Water" by Dark Horse, though it's unclear if the repurposed script is the one Sam Worthington described as "Avatar 1.5." The graphic novel is set a decade after the first film and focuses on Neytiri and Jake's family reeling with humans returning to Pandora. This direction sounds largely different than what Worthington described, which was Neytiri and Jake battling with other Na'vi clans. Perhaps that script Worthington saw will get the graphic novel treatment as well? Or be adapted into a novel? Keep in mind that Cameron inked a deal with Penguin Random House in 2017 to publish several books in the "Avatar" universe (via Los Angeles Times). 

Either way, fans will likely be blown away by what's up on the big screen when "Way of Water" hits theaters on December 16.