In 2009, James Cameron shocked everyone with his visually-stunning blockbuster Avatar. Cameron has said that he had been planing multiple sequels to his award-winning film, but just recently, we have learned of the true extent of this. We now know that Cameron has finished writing Avatar 2, 3, 4, AND 5. Four sequels are officially in the works, with Avatar 2 expected to hit theaters sometime around Christmas of 2018. Shooting should start this August, with the original stars, Zoe Saldana (Neytiri) and Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), returning.
The real question is: Did anybody, aside from James Cameron, want this many Avatar's?
Let's start with a quick review on the first Avatar (spoilers, but come on, its been 8 years):
Avatar tells the beginning of the story of Jake Sully and his transformation from paraplegic human marine to alien Na'vi warrior through the use of the avatar program. The environment on the lush, forested moon which the Na'vi inhabit is poisonous to human beings, leading them to develop a telepathic connection to avatars, which are Na'vi bodies controlled by human minds. The humans on Pandora are classically greedy and violent, seeking to harvest precious materials from within the environment at the cost of the home and safety of the Na'vi. As Jake is tasked with getting to know the Na'vi and to gain their trust, he learns that they are not only a highly evolved and beautiful people, but they are not the enemies of the humans at all. Jake falls in love with Neytiri, a lovely Na'vi woman who first encounters him and trains him in the ways of the Na'vi. Jake soon finds himself on the other side in a fight for Pandora. In the end, the Na'vi lose much, but are successful in fighting off the human attackers. The humans are forced to leave the planet, and Jake stays with the Na'vi, shedding his human body as by some means, his consciousness is fully transferred to his Na'vi avatar.
A solid, complete story. In my opinion, it absolutely could have stood alone. However, I am interested to see how the story continues. The first Avatar film was great in many respects. It was ahead of it's time in terms of visual effects, it had a compelling, if simple story, and it had powerful underlying themes. It's vibrant, colorful settings and characters created one of the most pleasing and gorgeous movies ever made. It's story begged sympathy for the humanoid alien race which was being savagely cheated and attacked by the more technologically advance humans. Themes of our connection with all living things, greed and corruption are all clear in Avatar.
The real problem people had with Avatar was that it's story, while interesting, was rather unoriginal in structure. It's basically Pocohantas, with an alien race in place of Native Americans. Jake Sully is the John Smith character, wooed by a lovely Na'vi girl (read Pocohantas) and shown the horrible deeds his people have committed against them. John Sully, er, Jake Smith... whatever - the main guy is then determined to help the people in need against the more advanced invading people in a very difficult struggle.
We all know what eventually happened to the Native Americans. Will the humans be back and follow a similar discourse against the Na'vi? We have no details at all yet on the story of the sequels to Avatar, but one can only hope they take the journey of Jake and Neytiri down a much more unique and uncharted path. It's hard for myself to imagine how much James Cameron can do in four more sequels, especially if they're as long as the nearly three-hour first film. Cameron did say that the films could stand alone but combine to form a complete saga - does this mean will get completely new lead characters in some of the new films? Where could he take Jake and Neytiri? They could see more of the other tribes of Na'vi. Could they somehow travel to other planets with other intelligent peoples? Will they have children? Will we get to see what Earth looks like in this time period? Will we see more "hair sex" between Jake and Neytiri? Will Sigourney Weaver return in any way? Every film could use more Sigourney Weaver.
I'm excited to see what the new films will look like with even better technology today. I'm hopeful the story will wow me more than the first with so much potential in the expansive Avatar universe. Do we need four Avatar sequels? We don't know yet, but the best we can do is hope that we absolutely do.