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How James Cameron Had Multiple Teams Of Writers Work On Avatar 2, 3, 4 And 5 At The Same Time

When making a series of sequels, one might think you might have an overall idea of where the story is headed. Generally, you would focus first on the first sequel, then the second, and so on.

Perhaps this is the case for other franchises, but not so for director James Cameron and the "Avatar" empire he seems to be trying to build. In an interview with Variety, the writers from the first of many planned sequels, "Avatar: The Way of Water," spoke about how the process of planning the second "Avatar" movie was a part of planning all the future "Avatar" movies.

They also spoke about how the script for the second "Avatar" film was so huge that they had to split it into two movies, as well as diving into spoilery details surrounding certain decisions about "Avatar: The Way of Water." Read on to find out how all the "Avatar" sequel writers came together to plan the paths of "Avatar" 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The script for Avatar 2 was so huge that it was split into Avatar 2 and 3

If you thought the over three-hour runtime of "Avatar: The Way of Water" was long, you'll want to sit down for this — the movie is only half of what was initially planned to be the second "Avatar" film. In the interview with Variety, the writers of "Avatar: The Way of Water" and the third "Avatar" film, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, revealed that as they were developing the script for the first sequel, they realized that there were too many elements for everything they were planning to take place in just one film.

"Carrying this burden was always an issue in terms of getting the first act of that first movie moving, and there was just an enormous amount of material in there," Silver told Variety. "So somewhere after we had started writing, [Cameron] called us up, and he said, 'Look, we've got too much material. We're going to split it into two movies.'"

Avatar: The Way of Water's writers discuss spoilers from the film


The writers of "Avatar: The Way of Water" were resolute in not sharing any spoilers for the films to come, but they did discuss the events of the recently released film and some of the implications they might have on the future of the film series.

One of the most mysterious unanswered questions from "The Way of Water" is the identity of Kiri's (Sigourney Weaver) parents, as unlike the rest of the Sully children, her biological parents aren't Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña). Born from the deceased Dr. Grace Augustine's (Weaver) avatar, we don't know who Kiri's father might be — if she has one at all. This led Variety's Adam B. Vary to question if Kiri might have been immaculately conceived, making her a type of Pandoran messiah. The writers were tight-lipped on the answer, but Rick Jaffa said they never considered her to be a type of Na'vi Jesus, perhaps hinting that this wasn't quite the answer.

They also discussed a moment that made some fans of "Avatar: The Way of Water" furious when Spider (Jack Champion) saved antagonist Quaritch (Stephen Lang) at the end of the film. However, the writers believed the decision made sense for Spider's character.

"The movie allows Spider to explore these ambivalent feelings he's having, and, I mean, I think it's fine that the audience is like, 'Don't rescue him!'" Amanda Silver said. "But the idea that Spider is compelled to rescue Quaritch is interesting from a character point of view."

All the Avatar sequel writers didn't know which movie they would write for during outlining

One of the most interesting parts of the interview, however, was the part where the writers talked about the six-month process of outlining the story for what ultimately became the four sequels to "Avatar."

Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa told Variety that they, nor the other writers, Josh Friedman and Shane Salerno, knew which movie they would be screenwriting during the outlining phase, apparently because James Cameron believed knowing which movie they would be writing for would lead them to be less involved in outlining the plots of the other movies.

"Once we kind of got a baseline of education, then the whiteboards were brought into the room and we started mapping out characters, members of the family, story arcs and so forth," Jaffa said. "There was so much material that a handful of really large whiteboards suddenly became this room full of whiteboards. I mean, whiteboards were everywhere, and then whiteboards that flipped over and you could write on the other side."

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is currently showing exclusively in theaters.