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Forest on Pandora, home of the Na'vi
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Avatar 2 Surpasses Spider-Man at the Box Office

The long-awaited sequel proved the skeptics wrong and scored big at the movie theaters

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, surpassed Spider-Man: No Way Home in box office records and now stands at No. 6 of all time highest grossing films. The sci-fi visual wonder is the sequel to the first Avatar installment, which was released in December 2009. Critics doubted whether the franchise could rebound in popularity after a 13 year absence in the movie theaters, atop further concerns about the relevance and viability of moviegoing in the “pandemic era.” The doubters were quelled by the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, and with Cameron’s blockbuster success, might be silenced for good.

Despite ever increasing streaming options, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Peacock, people still seem interested in experiencing movies on the big screen. In addition, Avatar: The Way of Water, might be the most visually stunning cinematic achievement ever made. The film continues the story of Jake Sully, now a tribal leader among the Na’vi, and his family as they flee the human colonizers who are seeking to squelch rebellion and unrest. The writers maintained the basic story of the struggle between humans and Na’vi, which many point out can be interpreted as a metaphor for western colonialism and imperialism. The original Avatar was criticized by New York Times columnist David Brooks, who said of the movie:

It rests on the stereotype that white people are rationalist and technocratic while colonial victims are spiritual and athletic. It rests on the assumption that nonwhites need the White Messiah to lead their crusades. It rests on the assumption that illiteracy is the path to grace. It also creates a sort of two-edged cultural imperialism. Natives can either have their history shaped by cruel imperialists or benevolent ones, but either way, they are going to be supporting actors in our journey to self-admiration.”

David Brooks, Opinion | The Messiah Complex – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Cameron continued the sequel in like fashion, at least with the military-industrial complex of the invasive humans. It’s worth it for the fantastic visuals, but according to the critics, its narrative arc could use some nuance and complexifying.  

The Avatar franchise will continue, with two more sequels planned.


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Avatar 2 Surpasses Spider-Man at the Box Office