Avatar Theory Could Explain James Cameron's Plan For The Sequels
James Cameron obviously has a clear plan for the Avatar sequels, which could be explained thanks to one convincing theory based on Chinese philosophy. While 2009’s Avatar focused on the forests of Pandora, and the land-dwelling clan of the Omatikaya, Avatar: The Way of Water, which has recently surpassed $2 billion at the box office, centered on the world’s oceans, integrating Jake (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their young family into the Metkayina clan. The use of different environments in Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water suggests that Cameron is using the four classical elements as vessels for the franchise’s stories.
The Avatar franchise was developed by James Cameron a view to providing an environmentalist message, hoping to persuade humanity to take better care of the Earth by showing the vibrant and beautiful world of Pandora that the Na’vi inhabit. This concept means that the use of classical elements would make sense when telling the story of the Sully family, but with five films planned, three still yet to be released, the Avatar franchise doesn’t fit with the expected pattern of only four elements. One Reddit theory has suggested that a different system of elements could be utilized for the franchise, which would much better fit the Avatar series.
The five planned Avatar films fit into the Wuxing system, a concept from Chinese philosophy which explains a wide range of phenomena. The Wuxing system includes similar phases to the classical elements, but instead focuses on wood, water, fire, earth, and metal. Using this system perhaps allows for more expansion in the Avatar franchise, Wuxing is a deeply spiritual system, which is mirrored perfectly in the spiritual themes that are expressed in the Avatar films, particularly in the development of Eywa, the deity of the Na’vi formed by the natural network on Pandora.
Wuxing also relates directly to the phases of the year, with each element acting as a representation of a different season in the year. This idea of seasons and phases was demonstrated further in Avatar: The Way of Water, which introduced the aspect of the eclipses on Pandora, marking danger and threats to the main characters. If James Cameron is using the Wuxing system to focus the stories being told in the Avatar films, this could provide a perfect prediction for what could come in the upcoming sequels, assuming that Avatar was based around wood, and Avatar: The Way of Water was based around water.
Jake Sully acted as the audiences’ eyes and ears during his introduction to Pandora in 2009’s Avatar, since this was the first time that anybody had seen the remarkable world that James Cameron had created. The majority of Avatar took place in the forests of Pandora, putting a huge emphasis on the Na’vi’s connection to nature, which came to a head during one moment which saw Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and the RDA destroy the Omatikaya’s Hometree. This was a clear representation of wood from the Wuxing system, which also relates to a period of growth, shown through Jake’s integration into Na’vi culture, and permanent transference into his avatar body.
Subsequently, Avatar: The Way of Water focused on the next element along in the Wuxing system: water. Jake and Neytiri choose to leave their home in Pandora’s Hallelujah Mountains after Quaritch returns as a recombinant soldier for the RDA, finding a new home among the Metkayina clan of Pandora’s reefs and oceans. The Sully family learn how to survive in the water, which couldn’t provide a more obvious relation to the water phase of the Wuxing system. Water is also connected to the phase of the year relating to a period of retreat, which is exactly what Jake and his family do during Avatar: The Way of Water.
The next element in the Wuxing system is fire, which has already been teased to be the focus of Avatar 3. During an interview with 20 Minutes following the release of Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron hinted at the debut of the “Ash People”, a clan of Na’vi who are speculated to take on a more villainous role in the upcoming sequel. The Ash People are hinted at residing in a volcanic region of Pandora, and could team-up with the forces of the RDA, with some even speculating that Quaritch will join the Ash People in Avatar 3.
Fire has been an important plot point in the two previous Avatar films, as fire and ash destroy Hometree in Avatar, and Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) dies surrounded by fire in the climactic moments of Avatar: The Way of Water. In relation to the phases of the year, fire represents a period of swelling, which suggests that the story of the Avatar franchise will expand beyond belief in Avatar 3, and the intensity will probably increase as Jake and Quaritch go head-to-head once again. The introduction of the Ash People in Avatar 3 will mark the next piece of Wuxing system puzzle falling into place.
Avatar producer Jon Landau confirmed in an interview with Gizmodo that future films would open characters’ eyes, particularly Neytiri’s, to the state of Earth, with some of the action taking place on humanity’s homeworld. This could unfold during the fourth film in the Avatar franchise, especially since Cameron and the Avatar crew have confirmed a huge moment in the franchise’s future that will blow audiences away. Avatar 4 is also rumored to feature a time jump, which could see human evacuees from Earth find themselves on Pandora, or the natives of Pandora on a mission to save Jake Sully’s homeworld.
Focusing the story on Earth during Avatar 4 would be the perfect way to reflect the Wuxing system, following wood in Avatar, water in Avatar: The Way of Water, and fire in Avatar 3. Earth is seen as a transitional and transformative period during the year, as determined by the Wuxing system, so this would relate to an epic Avatar 4 moment. Earth is also associated with a season of stillness, so Avatar 4 could see characters reeling from the events of Avatar 3, and the potential battle between Jake and his family, and the Ash People, perhaps teamed with the RDA.
Metal is the final phase of the Wuxing system, associated with a period of harvesting, which will probably see all the Avatar franchise’s stories converge in one final battle. The concept of metal could relate to human technology that continues to play a huge role in the Avatar films. It was human tech that started Jake Sully’s journey to becoming a Na’vi, and the same technology that allows his arch nemesis, Quaritch, to live on even after his death in Avatar. Just as new Pandoran environments are introduced in the upcoming Avatar sequels, new technology will also be developed, so the battle between nature and metal will continue to rage.
Several theories pose that technology could be used to imbue Earth with Eywa during Avatar 5, potentially saving humanity from themselves, and allowing people to appreciate their connection to the natural world again. This makes metal the focus of the final film in the Avatar franchise, closing out the franchise and perfectly fitting into the Wuxing system. In this way, James Cameron can continue to fill the franchise with different aspects of human spirituality, just as he has done in the first two Avatar films, but bring the franchise to a satisfying close.
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