Writer, director and sometimes deep-sea-diver James Cameron has hinted that the fourth instalment of his Avatar series could be a prequel. It has been known for some time that Cameron is planning to write and shoot Avatars 2 & 3 back to back, but it came as somewhat of a surprise when he mentioned his plans for a fourth film while speaking to MTV.
“I have an idea for a fourth,” Cameron told the TV station. “I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora (the mineral rich neon jungle planet of the Na’vi people) and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi, and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world.
“Because when we drop in, even in the first film in Avatar 1, as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization…That will complete an arc and if that leads into more, we’ll start, not imitating Star Wars, but it’s a logical thing to do because we’ll have completed the thematic arc by the end of three. The only thing left to do is go back to see what it was like on those first expeditions and create some new characters that then become legacy characters in later films. It’s a plan.”
A plan it may be, but it’s still a hell of a long way from bearing fruit. We were originally supposed to be trooping along to the cinema for yet more arrows-a-flyin’ eco-alien action in 2014, the planned release year for Avatar 2. Unfortunately, numerous things got in the way, not least Cameron’s side-trip to the Challenger Deep, otherwise known as the lowest point of the Earth’s crust (36,000 feet, or seven miles, below the surface of the ocean).
It was understood that the expedition was partly in order to gather inspiration for Avatar 2, which is reportedly going to concentrate on the oceans of Pandora. The undersea voyage took up a considerable amount of time, pushing back the release date of the second film until 2015 at the very earliest – and it looks as though the briny deep was not a particularly forthcoming muse for the director:
“When I got to the bottom…it was completely featureless and uniform,” Cameron told reporters upon resurfacing. “My feeling was one of complete isolation from all humanity…More than anything, (it’s) realising how tiny you are down in this big, vast, black, unknown and unexplored place.”
Apparently the only living creatures he clapped eyes on down there were a few shrimp-like arthropods. The dull crustaceans and featureless underwater wastelands of our own planet will surely not be enough to inspire an ocean world exciting and colourful enough to look good in on an IMAX screen in three dimensions. Although, having said that, the footage of Cameron’s expedition is indeed being turned into a 3D documentary, which will receive a theatrical release.
With Avatar 2 not rearing its blue head until 2015, and number three following at least a year later, we could all be grey-haired and semi-bionic by the time we get to feast our eyes on a Pandora prequel. Still, if the visual quality of Avatar 1 (as Cameron assures us it will come to be known) is anything to go by, we’ll be having lustrous visions of the initial exploration of Pandora beamed directly into our frontal lobes by 2020.