James Cameron Says Avatar Is Incomparable To The Marvel Machine

"Avatar: The Way of Water" was released on December 16th, 2022, 13 years after the original "Avatar" hit theaters back in 2009. Although "Avatar" was a massively successful film, partially thanks to its impressive visual effects for the time, "The Way of Water" was met with some pushback. Despite the massive popularity and success of the original film, many felt like 13 years was too long to wait for a sequel.

"The Way of Water" has done exceptionally well despite the initial hesitation. Although it hasn't quite sold as much as its predecessor (which is the highest-grossing movie of all time), it's close. Currently, the sequel is ranked the fourth biggest film release of all time.

Even still, the new addition to the franchise got a lot of people talking about the success of a film versus its "cultural impact." Fans and non-fans alike began comparing "Avatar" to other successful franchises where the characters are well known and identifiable and raised the question of whether "Avatar" could say the same. Comparisons to other popular Disney franchises, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, have cropped up. James Cameron has shared his thoughts on the debate, and he's not too happy about the comparisons.

Cameron prefers to let his film do the talking

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron addressed the "Avatar" hate trend. "There's skepticism in the marketplace around, 'Oh, did it ever make any real cultural impact?'" Cameron explained. "'Can anybody even remember the characters' names?'"

Cameron addressed the claims that "Avatar" has no lasting cultural impact by bringing up a few fair points. "When you have extraordinary success, you come back within the next three years," he pointed out. "That's just how the industry works. You come back to the well, and you build that cultural impact over time. Marvel had maybe 26 movies to build out a universe, with the characters cross-pollinating. So it's an irrelevant argument."

To compare a single film to the massive expanse of something like the MCU does seem like a silly attempt to make "Avatar" feel like less of an accomplishment than it is. As Cameron said, Marvel's had nearly 30 movies over the course of 15 years to make a massive and lasting impact. Likewise, Star Wars has had nearly 50 years to explore its mythos and grow over an extensive period of time.

Although "The Way of Water" has taken 13 years to be made, it's still only the franchise's second film. It still has plenty of room to grow. Cameron insists, "We'll see what happens after this film," and if the film's huge success is anything to go by, he was right in putting his faith in his creation.