That Sigourney Weaver is going to be playing a role in James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar trilogy despite her character Dr. Grace Augustine having died in the first installment, has been common knowledge for some time now; Weaver apparently knew about Cameron’s plans to shoot three more Avatar films before even franchise producer Jon Landua did. (Or, before the latter was willing to publicly admit that this is, in fact, Cameron’s extra-ambitious plan, anyway.)

Regardless, we now have official confirmation that the Oscar-nominated star – a geek icon for her roles in the Alien and Ghostbusters franchises as well as such films as Galaxy Quest – is among the cast members set for the forthcoming Avatar movies.

In the first installment of Cameron’s sci-fi saga, it was implied that Dr. Augustine’s consciousness had become part of the Pandora planet’s ‘biological neural network’, following her death; just a month or so ago, Weaver further teased that she her role will be “a little different” in each of the next three Avatar movies, which makes sense – given that her character now seemingly exists in a non-definite form, so to speak.

Cameron has added a bit more intrigue to that yet-to-be-solved mystery, with his official statement that confirms Weaver is a cast member in the Avatar trilogy ahead:

“Sigourney and I have a long creative history, dating back to 1985 when we made ‘Aliens.’ We’re good friends who’ve always worked well together,so it just feels right that she’s coming back for the ‘Avatar’ sequels. Her character of Grace Augustine, as fans know, died in the first movie, so she’s playing a different and in many ways more challenging character in the upcoming films. We’re both looking forward to this new creative challenge, the latest chapter in our long and continuing collaboration.”

Dr. Augustine isn’t the only human who’ll be returning from the dead in the Avatar sequels. Last year, Camero also confirmed that, in addition to Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana reprising as Jake Sulley and Neytiri (as long expected), Stephen Lang is coming back despite his character Col. Miles Quaritch, having seemingly perished afar taking a few arrows to the chest in the first installment. As with Weaver, Cameron refrained from detailing how, exactly, hard-as-iron Quaritch is being resurrected for the new Avatar trilogy, but also indicated that the antagonist may be painted in more shades of grey this time around – he will “evolve into really unexpected places,” to be exact.

In many ways, the first chapter in Cameron’s other-worldly epic unfolded as a Disney-esque fantasy adventure with its mythos and the allegorical core of the story rooted in sci-fi concepts (more than a work of “hard science fiction”); which is to say, the actual explanation for Weaver and Lang’s return in the sequels doesn’t, per se, need to be too convoluted.

It’s feasible that the forthcoming Avatar trilogy will offer a more innovative three-film story arc than the first installment’s narrative, in part thanks to Cameron having made the writing process a collaborative one – with the scripts having been co-penned by Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Savages). There are various reasons for why the first Avatar movie’s plot is, by and large, conventional to a fault, but the outcome is the same no matter how you approach it – Cameron is stepping up his game on the Avatar sequels.

Could we be potentially looking at a Terminator to Terminator 2: Judgement Day level of improvement in storytelling, with the Avatar movies ahead? It’s by no means guaranteed, of course, but far be it from us to bet against Cameron proving successful at anything that he puts his mind to, at this point in his career.

Avatar 2 is slated to reach theaters in December 2016, followed by Avatar 3 in December 2017 and Avatar 4 in December 2018.

Source: 20th Century Fox