Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Avatar: The Way Of Water - Everything You Need To Know

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Almost immediately after "Avatar" hit theaters in 2009, director, writer, and blockbuster mastermind James Cameron started promising us more. It didn't exactly come as a surprise: "Avatar" made $1 billion in just 19 days before establishing itself as the highest-grossing movie of all time.

However, Cameron wasn't interested in churning out another sequel for the sake of it. Since 2010, he's been dropping teasers about his vision for what's next for the franchise — promising a revolutionary new film that would leave audiences awestruck. And now, that sequel is here. Titled "Avatar: The Way of Water," the film hit theaters on December 16, 2022, taking audiences back to the mind-blowing world of Pandora and capping off five long years of labor and love for James Cameron.

Of course, if you haven't seen "The Way of Water" yet and want to know a little more about the most anticipated film of 2022, we've got you covered. From its star-studded cast to the franchise's future, here's everything you need to know about "Avatar: The Way of Water."

What is the plot of Avatar: The Way of Water?

"The Way of Water" picks up over a decade after the events of the first film. Permanently inside his big blue avatar, Jake Sully is living that sweet Na'vi life, with his wife Neytiri and their four kids — Neteyam, Lo'ak, Tuk, and the adopted Kiri. Unfortunately, things get turned upside down when the humans show up again, looking to conquer and colonize Pandora now that Earth has fallen apart. Using guerilla warfare, Jake declares war on the invading Earthlings, a move that results in the military forces resurrecting Colonel Quaritch and several dead Marines as revenge-obsessed Na'vi, dedicated to hunting Jake down.

With his old enemy on his trail, Jake and family strike out for safety, leaving their forest home behind and hoping to find shelter with the water-dwelling Metkayina. Of course, these water Na'vi aren't exactly thrilled when Jake and Neytiri show up, especially with Quaritch coming after them. Jake will not only have to defend his family from the oncoming threat, he'll also have to learn how to be accepted by the Metkayina and learn their way of life — the way of water, if you will.

Who stars in Avatar: The Way of Water?

"Avatar: The Way of Water" brings back most of the heavy hitters from the original film, with Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana leading the charge as Jake Sully and Neytiri. Sigourney Weaver also returns, albeit as a new character. Here, Weaver plays Kiri in the new film, who's the adopted 14-year-old daughter of Jake and Neytiri. 

Stephen Lang is also back as a resurrected Miles Quaritch, while Giovanni Ribisi returns as Parker Selfridge. Joel David Moore appears "The Way of Water" as well, returning as the beloved Norm. CCH Pounder reprises her role as Mo'at from the first movie, who's Neytryi's mother, and Dileep Rao's comes back as Jake's human ally, Dr. Max Patel.

As for newcomers, Edie Falco plays the antagonistic General Frances Ardmore, Jemaine Clement plays human doctor Ian Garvin, and Jack Champion plays Quaritch's wild child son, Spider. One of the most notable additions to "The Way of Water" is Kate Winslet, who plays Ronal, a member of the Metkayina clan. The cast is rounded out by Britain Dalton, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, and James Flatters as Jake and Neytiri's children, as well as respected character actor Cliff Curtis and Bailey Bass, among others.

Who directed Avatar: The Way of Water?

If we haven't mentioned him enough by now and you're still in the dark, James Cameron directed "Avatar: The Way of Water." Cameron is the mastermind behind the original film, not to mention all-time classics like "Titanic," "Aliens," and the first two "Terminator movies. "The Way of Water" is the first feature film Cameron has directed since the 2009 "Avatar," proving his dedication to this franchise. Of course, he's worked on other projects in the meantime; he just didn't sit in the director's chair.

Cameron is also a producer on "Avatar: The Way of Water" and is credited with writing its script. According to Variety, Cameron brought Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver on board to help with the screenplay in 2013, which makes sense as the two have experience writing blockbusters like "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Jurassic World." As for other key members of the crew, Russell Carpenter serves as the cinematographer on the sequel, a long-time collaborator of Cameron's. While he didn't work on the first "Avatar," Carpenter's notable cinematography credits belong to "Titanic," "True Lies," and "Ant-Man."

How did The Way of Water perform at the box office?

When it comes to the box office, "The Way of Water" had a lot to live up to. After all, 2009's "Avatar" is the highest-grossing film of all time. Of course, a whole lot has changed since then. The COVID-19 pandemic majorly affected how people go to theaters. Plus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has basically taken over the blockbuster space since "Avatar" came out nearly 15 years ago.

So in this brand new world, how did "The Way of Water" fare? Over its opening weekend, the film earned $134 million domestically, with a $434.5 million worldwide total. That was slightly below expectations — however, just like the Na'vi, this film has long legs. As of January 8, 2023, "The Way of Water" had earned over $1.7 billion (via Forbes), making it the highest-grossing movie of 2022 and the second highest-grossing movie of all time. It just goes to show that you should never bet against James Cameron.

What is the future of the Avatar franchise?

James Cameron has made no secret that he hopes to turn "Avatar" into a long-running series. In fact, he even has plans for three more movies, supposedly titled "Avatar: The Seed Bearer," "Avatar: The Tulkun Rider," and "Avatar: The Quest for Eywa" (via IndieWire). Of course, whether or not we get a part three — let alone parts four and five — depends on the success of "The Way of Water."

Cameron has been saying that his movie will need to earn $2 billion, as it has a combined production and marketing budget of at least $600 million (via The Hollywood Reporter). As he's the guy who directed two of the highest-grossing movies ever made, it's hard to count out Cameron. Of course, "The Way of Water" isn't performing quite as well as hoped, so the future of the franchise remains to be seen.

How are critics and audiences responding to Avatar: The Way of Water?

After waiting over a decade to return to Pandora, what did critics and audiences think about "The Way of Water" when it hit the big screen? Well, at the time of this writing, the film boasts a 78% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 355 reviews.

On the negative side of things, our very own Cynthia Vinney wrote, "'Avatar: The Way of Water' is an engaging and gorgeous-looking film that's also not particularly successful as a standalone story. Unlike 'Avatar,' which wasn't conceived with sequel aspirations, 'The Way of Water' is the first in a planned series of four 'Avatar' sequels, and despite its excessively lengthy and completely unearned three hours and 10 minute runtime, it feels like it. As a result, the movie isn't an especially satisfying experience."

Dylan Roth of the Observer concurred, writing, "The film's focus is split in so many directions that none of its characters feel whole, even after three full hours." However, on the more positive side of things, the character actually worked for Nicolás Delgadillo of Knotfest, who wrote, "Going into this movie, I thought that I'd at least be wowed by the effects and the action. I never expected to be moved close to tears by blue alien children." Paul Salfen of AMFM Magazine was also enthusiastic, saying, "While it is absolutely beautiful and an achievement in effects, it has striking similarities to the first film — but that last hour of action is absolutely why we go to the movies. See it on the biggest screen possible with the best presentation."

In short, even the critics who didn't care for the plot or characters were blown away by the visuals. As for audiences, they seem to be absolutely in love with the movie. Despite the fact that so many people spent years hating on the first film, "The Way of Water" boasts an audience approval rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5,000+ reviews.

What is Avatar: The Way of Water rated?

Similar to the 2009 film, "Avatar: The Way of Water" is rated PG-13, having earned the rating for "sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity, and some strong language." If you're worried about the nudity, it's Na'vi in nature, while the aforementioned language does involve the f-bomb. As the movie showcases the war between human colonizers and the Na'vi, there are quite a few battle scenes and moments where children are put in harm's way. Of course, the movie does have a very pro-environmental message and places great stock in the concept of family. In short, when it comes to its content, it's basically on par with Cameron's first "Avatar" film.

Where to watch the original Avatar

At the moment, the only way to watch "Avatar: The Way of Water" is to visit your local theater. However, if you want to see the origin of all the otherworldly magic, you can find the first "Avatar" streaming on Disney+. If you're not subscribed to the Mouse House's streaming service, fear not — there are other options. You can rent "Avatar" for $3.99 on Apple iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.