While Avatar 3 is likely to be a financial success, the Avatar series would be the first franchise to break a James Cameron threequel curse if the sequel manages to replicate Avatar: The Way of Water’s critical impact. Avatar: The Way of Water is a massive box office success. The long-awaited Avatar sequel managed to outstrip even optimistic expectations with its staggering performance in cinemas, earning more than $2 billion and breaking all manner of records as Avatar: The Way of Water made movie history since its 2022 release.
However, despite this astounding success, Avatar: The Way of Water’s critical performance was less unambiguously impressive. While some of the symbolism in Avatar: The Way of Water was surprisingly smart, a large number of reviews called the blockbuster sequel an exercise in empty spectacle. On the whole, the sheer effectiveness of Avatar: The Way of Water’s visual splendor (and the fact that the sequel’s pacing, story, and acting all improved on the original Avatar) meant that its critical impact was far from outright negative. However, according to director James Cameron’s history, Avatar 3 might struggle to recreate this relative success.
Cameron Directing Avatar 3 Can Save the Series
The only other franchises Cameron has worked on, the Terminator movies and the Alien series, both fell apart critically with their third installments. However, the director can avoid this fate here. Avatar 3’s story can surprise viewers with some truly unexpected twists since, while a young David Fincher made Alien 3 and Cameron handed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines over to Jonathan Mostow after writing and directing the first two movies in the series, this time, the director is holding onto the reins. With Cameron still steering the series, Avatar 3 can maintain a consistent tone and clear story direction.
Cameron already arrived late when he directed Aliens, the second movie in the Alien series. As great as the sequel was, there has never been any debate over the fact that the Alien franchise was always Ridley Scott’s baby. Similarly, although The Terminator was Cameron’s own creation, he didn’t even get a writing credit on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. In contrast, Cameron is Avatar 3’s writer/director as well as the writer/director of Avatar 4, Avatar 5, and Avatar: The Way of Water. This ensures that Cameron can keep the series consistent, which was the primary ingredient missing from the third Alien and Terminator movies.
Cameron’s Involvement In Avatar Changes The Franchise’s Future
The Terminator movies went off the rails when, without Cameron, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines introduced too much goofy humor to the series via the T-X’s inflating breasts and Arnold Schwarzenegger donning disco shades. In contrast, Alien 3 tanked the Alien franchise when the sequel attempted to bring back the dark claustrophobia of the original Alien and instead went too dark, offering viewers a bleak, dingy, miserable follow-up to the sleek high-octane action of Aliens. In contrast, Cameron directing Avatar 3 ensures the franchise will maintain consistency. Avatar 3 may earn worse reviews than Avatar: The Way of Water, but the sequel will at least align with earlier Avatar movies, unlike Cameron’s abandoned three quels.