James Cameron’s Avatar has taken quite a while to get a sequel, and the franchise might be better served by telling its story through comic books.
James Cameron's Avatar is back in the spotlight thanks to its sequel finally coming out. Though the original hit blockbuster came out in 2009, the follow-up is only just now hitting theaters. However, in the interim, the property has been somewhat of a joke when audiences actually look back at it, creating a major problem.
There are a lot of concerns about the future of the Avatar property, and it seems that the film's story would be better suited for a comic book and not a movie. This way, production delays and special effects needs could be bypassed entirely, allowing the story to be told and succeed on its own. Here's how a switch to comics could turn things around for the better in the land of Pandora.
The reason that Avatar: The Way of Water is coming out so long after the original is that it's apparently even more special effects-intensive. This does make sense, especially since Cameron wants to keep pushing technological boundaries. Unfortunately, this ambition is keeping the property from releasing in a timely fashion, which could have an impact on the box office. Considering how much the high-budget new movie supposedly needs to break even, it's a fairly big gamble.
Telling the rest of Avatar's story in comic books would move past all of these setbacks, as there would be no need for costly special effects or lengthy productions. This would also remove the first movie's biggest "crutch." Many noted that Avatar's basic storyline was mainly saved through its CGI and effects, with a film that featured comparatively bad effects being much less of a spectacle. With this strength removed, the plot of the entire Avatar saga would have to truly earn its hype as a comic book, which could see Cameron bring his creative A-game.
This increased production speed and availability would allow Avatar to bolster its world in a greater way. Of course, the main Avatar ongoing comic or limited series' could be based entirely on the story that Cameron has mapped out. Beyond this, however, there could also be other miniseries or specials that focus on other tribes and lands in Pandora, expanding things beyond the Na'vi. Offering different aspects, scopes and tones within the same universe is the best way to make it seem wider and grander, even if it isn't a full-on shared superhero universe.
The Star Wars Expanded Universe titles were able to take things in different directions than the movies did, spotlighting different eras, planets and species in the galaxy far, far away. That was a big reason why Star Wars continued to be such a grandiose and beloved franchise even during the first hiatus in between film trilogies. Comics could do the same for Avatar, telling stories and highlighting characters that make the property more than just one incredibly hyped but ultimately just fair film.
One major criticism of Avatar is that it has no cultural relevancy outside of being a special effects showcase. After all, there have been children born since the first film came out who have been weaned on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet know nothing of James Cameron's 2009 movie. The MCU has now expanded into multiple mediums, and it's a stronger property because of it. Pandora and those who live on it would be a much more memorable and enticing world to explore. Bringing big-time creators to work on these spinoffs would make them much more than mere cash grabs.
Doing these things would turn Avatar into a bona fide franchise and not just a one-off blockbuster. After all, other franchises that James Cameron worked on or created have been given similar treatment through comic books. Both Aliens and The Terminator have had numerous comics, some of which are far more highly regarded than later film sequels. While Avatar: The Way of Water could end up being a much bigger success when it hits theaters, ignoring the ways in which comic books could aid the franchise's planned story is a missed opportunity.
Timothy Blake Donohoo is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing. A professional freelance writer and marketing expert, he’s written marketing copy and retail listings for companies such as Viatek. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching documentaries and catching up on the latest Vaporwave and Electro-Swing musical releases.