James Cameron discusses his scrapped Avatar 2 script

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Avatar 2 was not always The Way of Water. In fact, the sequel to the box-office juggernaut Avatar originally had a very different plot – and you can soon see that story play out, just not in cinematic form. After James Cameron scripted the 130-page sequel, titled Avatar: The High Ground, he decided to scrap the idea of transforming the story into a movie. 

"We were noodling around," he tells Total Film in the new issue of the magazine, featuring Avatar: The Way of Water on the cover. "I was working with a team of writers. We had a lot of ideas. We kept trying to corral it into a box, and it never quite fit. So at a certain point, I said, ‘I’ll just finish it, and see if it’s a movie.’ I did. It came out, I think, at 130 pages. It was like, ‘Man, this is a great story. This is a hell of a read.’ 

"But it was missing one of those critical elements about sequels, which is that it didn’t go enough into the unexpected. It also didn’t play enough by Avatar rules, which is to connect us to the dream world, that which has a spiritual component that we can’t even quite quantify in words. It ticked every other box, but it didn’t tick that one."

In the end, Cameron set the story aside – but Avatar: The High Ground was not forgotten. "We figured out a way to restructure the elements that we needed to distribute across the first two of the sequels, and relaunched it in a completely different way," he says. The result is a graphic novel – coming December 6 – that tells the story of the Na'vi between the first movie and The Way of Water. 

"There’s some great stuff in it," he continues. "I mean, you’ve got the Na’vi fighting with bows and arrows in zero-G. I mean, I’m there! I want to see that movie. But it just didn’t achieve enough of the overall story and thematic goals that I had in mind. So we’re turning it into a Dark Horse graphic novel. You’ll be able to see that interim battle that took place between movie one and movie two.”

That's just a snippet of our huge interview with Cameron and his cast, featured in the new issue of Total Film, which hits stands (and digital devices) this Thursday, November 10. Meanwhile, Avatar: The Way of Water opens in cinemas around the world on December 16. 

Total Film's Avatar: The Way of Water covers

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios/Total Film)

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(Image credit: Total Film/20th Century Studios/EarFun)
Jordan Farley

I'm the News Editor at Total Film magazine, running the opening pages of every issue where you can read exclusive interviews and see first-look images from the biggest films. I was previously the Community Editor at sci-fi, fantasy and horror movie bible SFX. You'll find my name on news, reviews, and interviews covering every type of movie, from the latest French arthouse release to the biggest Hollywood blockbuster. My work has also featured in Official PlayStation Magazine and Edge. Outside of my day job, I'm a FromSoft fanatic (proudest achievement: beating Malenia solo) and a TV connoisseur (translation: I'll watch anything).

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