James Cameron has been working on an underwater sequel to Avatar, developing entirely new visual effects technology for the film, but James Wan and Aquaman are about to beat him to the punch, stealing Avatar 2's groundbreaking glory.
The first Avatar set a new standard for IMAX 3D, immersing audiences in the CGI world of Pandora and bringing 3D effects and motion capture to life in a way that wowed audiences, setting a new standard for Hollywood blockbusters. Despite the success, in the years since, Avatar has been derided for a derivative story and simplistic characters.
Naturally, this sets a high bar for Avatar 2 (and 3, and 4, and 5). To one-up the ground-breaking effects of the first film, Cameron has devoted the last decade to revolutionizing 3D technology even more, as well as capturing a space he's always been fascinated with: the oceans. He's worked for years to develop new technology to capture underwater performances in a way that will hopefully rival the effects of the first film, but thanks to James Wan and Aquaman, Avatar 2 might not be so groundbreaking after all.
Avatar Was a Stunning Visual Achievement - Because it Was First
To this day, Avatar holds the record for biggest box office of all time, a testament to just how revolutionary it was. Utilizing 3D technology and motion capture to their fullest extent, many people saw the movie multiple times in IMAX because of how amazing the experience it was. Naturally, IMAX and 3D also bring a ticket premium, which is a big reason most blockbusters now are also released in 3D, although nothing has come close to what Avatar did at the box office.
Despite this astronomical success, there's not much anticipation for the sequels, since Avatar's story didn't leave a huge appetite for more. Naturally, the best way for James Cameron to outdo the first film is to bring another revolutionary visual experience. The sequels, which are all shooting together, have a combined budget of over $1 billion, indicating Cameron indeed intends to surpass the blockbuster experience of the first. And it's likely he will, but he'll be too late.
How Aquaman Steals Avatar's Visual Thunder
Because it arrives in theaters first, Aquaman is going to be the first visually epic underwater blockbuster to hit the big screen. The crazy thing is, Aquaman doesn't even need to be the better film to do it. So long as Aquaman is simply a satisfactory film with good visuals, the spectacle of Avatar 2 will be, at best, an improvement on something we've seen before, as opposed to the first of its kind as the first Avatar was.
Aquaman won't be using the same technology as Avatar 2 (the effects are mostly created through wire-work and green screen), but since over two-thirds of Aquaman is set to take place underwater, it's going to be heavily special effects driven, and, unless it ends up being a total disaster, that first splash will be more than enough to dull the novelty of the Avatar sequels.
This isn't to say that the Avatar sequels won't be good. It's never wise to bet against James Cameron, and the special effects will surely be out of this world, but unless it brings both the effects and a quality groundbreaking story, it will merely be the second underwater visual epic to hit the big screen.
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