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How Avatar 2 Could Draw Inspiration From Michael Turner’s Fathom
James Cameron’s Avatar was a sensation in 2009, and its sequel is expected in 2016 if all goes well. Though the film broke box office records raking in over a billion dollars in profit, critics have cooled on the film in the years since. The story was not its greatest asset, and 3D has been mishandled so badly since Avatar the lustre has worn off. But at this point only a fool would bet against Cameron who repeatedly proves his critics wrong and makes populist movies that attract audiences time and again. Anticipation for a sequel is not at fever pitch, but there’s plenty of time for that.
Cameron is currently planning three more sequels total, and has recruited additional writers to help with the daunting task of elaborating on the world he presented to us in 2009. He has said that with the sequel we’re going to visit the oceans of Pandora, and as we know with his documentary work and his deep diving expeditions, he loves working under water.
I recently reviewed a comic about another character who loves working under water, Aspen, from Michael Turner’s Fathom series, published by Top Cow Productions and Aspen MLT.
As I was reading volume 1, I couldn’t get James Cameron out of my head. I mentioned in my review that Fathom felt like The Abyss meets Avatar, and once I visited the Wikipedia page my intuition was confirmed, Cameron himself had attempted to develop the franchise to the big screen since 2002. It’s hard to ascertain whether Lightstorm Entertainment still has the rights to Fathom, but given that Cameron has said he’s going to focus more on the oceans of Pandora, I suspect we’re going to see this comic’s influence in Avatar 2. Here’s some ways this could happen:
Cameron’s quips of exploring the oceans of Pandora usually bring to mind amazing vistas and creatures, but not much speculation has delved into the idea of actual characters who live down there. In Fathom the water-based aliens are humanoid beings who can turn into liquid water at a whim and wield it like a weapon. Their armour is made of crustacean shells; they have their own crafts that can fly above as well as under the ocean. They are basically awesome and having characters similar to them would make a nice counter to the land-based Na’vi we met in Avatar 1.
In Avatar the inhabitants of Pandora were painted in broad strokes as a parallel to indigenous populations of North and South America. Essentially we’re meant to root for the Na’vi in their struggle against the human interlopers. In Fathom the aliens are splintered into two factions, those who want peace and stability with humans, willing to wait until humans have matured as a species. Another faction has no time to wait for such an immature species like us, and commits violent acts of terror against humans, with the ultimate plan of wiping them off the planet so that the oceans, and thus their own existence, can be saved. Don’t be surprised if we see more factions of Na’vi in Avatar 2 with different agendas.
A misguided general
Latino Review has brought up a rumour about Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a bad human general. In Fathom volume 1 a human admiral collaborates with a faction of underwater aliens in a misguided attempt to control them. The aliens’ faction are led by a villain called Killian who has no intention of living in a world with humans and plans to wipe them out. The admiral by contrast has to keep the existence of the aliens secret from humanity for as long as possible while using their advantage under water for his navy. He’s not a villain per se, but very cold-hearted and a product of an environment that taught him that secrets and lies equal power. If Arnie plays a role similar to this, it won’t be a rehash of Stephen Lang’s awesomely cartoonish villain Quaritch.
Saving Pandora for all
In Avatar 1 the stakes were really only high for the Na’vi, they had everything to lose. In Fathom, the main character has to save the world for both species. It’s not a stretch to imagine the stakes rising in Avatar 2 with the threat to the planet causing dire consequences for both Na’vi and humans. Avatar 2 could pick up at a point where humanity not only desires the ridiculously-named Unobtainium, but desperately needs Pandora just as much as the Na’vi. Earth would be finished without Pandora, but mining it will finish the Na’vi. Conflict worthy of three sequels!
Ok, you’re thinking this is all obvious stuff that can be extrapolated with educated guesses, regardless of Fathom. But considering his interest in developing the comic in the last decade, and his love of oceans and aliens, Cameron operates in the same kind of broad strokes readers will see in Fathom. But for once, I don’t mean broad strokes in a negative way. There’s a reason his movies keep breaking box office records, and it’s because he makes films that connect to everyone. He is a studio’s dream director, managing to attract all demographics into his worlds. We’re still years from visiting Pandora for a second time, but my recent read of Fathom has raised my expectations of what is possible for this franchise.