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Designing The Pandoran Shark Akula Was More Difficult Than You'd Think

After 13 years of development, "Avatar: The Way of Water" is finally here, proving that audiences really love adventures on Pandora. As everyone knows, the first "Avatar" still holds the spot as the highest-grossing movie of all time (via Box Office Mojo), but "The Way of Water" is proving all the doubters wrong with its own box office success.

"The Way of Water" takes its time to establish a bountiful new side of Pandora, bringing in a slew of new characters, creatures, and ideas to James Cameron's legendary franchise. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and his team's consciousnesses have been uploaded to new Na'vi Avatars, bringing the once-dead villains back to life. The Metkayina harbor the Sully family, introducing audiences to a new tribe of aquatic Na'vi. Along with the Metkayina comes the exploration of the waters of Pandora, bringing in numerous species of never-before-seen underwater life. There's also an entire plotline revolving around Kiri being an immaculate conception with a strong connection to the goddess Eywa, but we won't get into that.

Given the success of "The Way of Water," Cameron's got his work cut out for him, with his numerous sequels surely getting the green light. The filmmaker previously stated that each subsequent movie would bring new concepts for audiences as they explore Pandora, but creating such unique ideas can't be a simple task. Thanks to a new Twitter thread, audiences got a small peek behind the curtain on what that process entails.

James Cameron needs you to create an alien shark

About halfway through "Avatar: The Way of Water," Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri's (Zoe Saldana) youngest son, Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), comes face-to-face with Pandora's massive and dangerous shark-like creature, the Akula. As one would expect, it was a fairly lengthy process to nail down the design. 

"The Way of Water" Lead Creature Designer Zachary Berger recently took to Twitter to show fans what it was like working on designing the Akula under James Cameron's leadership. Berger received the task of creating Pandora's shark on the first day of the job, saying that touring the "Avatar" concept art gallery "put the fear of god in me." After a conversation with Cameron, Berger began adapting a concept created a few years before his hiring, making edits here and there to add armor plating and bioluminescence. 

While the original idea was great, Berger revealed that it needed something the "Avatar" team calls a "reveal," which many of Pandora's creatures have. He described the concept as "some sort of shape change or unfurling of some extra appendage or something," admitting that the Akula needed "some of that 'Avatar' secret sauce." Berger and the team focused on Akula's mouth, pitching numerous unique concepts. Ultimately, they decided on the triangular rattlesnake-like design featured in "The Way of Water," for which they used their own arms to act out during the approval meetings.