James Cameron has Avatar sequels ahead of him, to be released in three consecutive years. That is a massive undertaking for any director, and Cameron has the even greater ambition of once again revolutionizing film technology through new underwater performance-capture filming techniques. All that behind-the-scenes work is enough to keep fans preoccupied on something besides inquiry about the story Cameron (with help from Sarah Connor Chronicles writer Josh Friedman) has come up with for the next installment.

However, as Avatar 2 heads down the pipeline toward its 2016 release date, details of the film’s story and casting are going to become increasingly enticing to fans – and the rumor mill has already begun churning out some pretty big theories about who the next villain in the series could be.

Latino Review dropped a big exclusive claiming that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be starring in Avatar 2. They cited a quote from Cameron earlier this year, in which the director hinted that the human colonists could return to combat the Na’vi. According to LR, Schwarzenegger would play the big bad general who returns to Pandora to torment Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).

As fast as this rumor broke, however, sources within Fox (as quoted by Variety) popped up to knock it down, claiming (in no uncertain terms) that there is, “No truth to this.” However, as always is the case in Internet movie news and rumors, there is nothing to definitively prove either side right.

A Fox denial isn’t a certainty because, well, people in the movie industry lie about things all the time. On the other hand: no rumor is proven true until it is, so while Schwarzenegger and Cameron re-teaming after twenty years (by the time Avatar 2 would be filming) seems highly plausible, it could not yet be reality, as Variety adds that Cameron and producer  Jon Landau are only now entering the casting stages.

For our own part, the proposed scenario with Schwarzenegger does sound a bit too close to the plotline of the first Avatar – a movie that has not exactly been celebrated for its narrative accomplishments. While Cameron will be getting experienced help on all three of his Avatar sequels, it’s somewhat hard to imagine there being many refreshing variations on the “evil human military vs. environmentally-minded Native Americans Na’vi” formula.

Maybe this big bad general is after their water crystal this time? And he brings a bunch of Pacific Rim Jaegers to help him get it? Just spit-balling here. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise us if something like that DID turn out to be true…

Avatar 2 is expected to theaters in December 2016 – with Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 to follow in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Sources: VarietyLatino Review