6 Things I Remember About the First Avatar Movie
Avatar: The Way of Water comes to theaters this week, and it’s projected to be one of the highest grossing movies of the year. And that will be pretty impressive, considering it’s been more than a decade since the first Avatar film hit theaters, and it’s not like the public has been begging for another one of these. It has always struck me as weird that the first Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time, has had so little cultural impact.
Obviously, the first Avatar had a huge impact at the time. Everybody was talking about it, everybody went to see it, and it launched a decade+ of poorly adapted 3D films. But does anybody remember the characters? The story? We all remember those big, blue aliens, but is “Na’vi” a household word? Does this franchise have any cultural impact deeper than surface level? I have no idea. But I figured it would be fun to try and remember, off the top of my head, everything I could from that first film before I go see the second one.
Join me after the jump for everything I remember about the first Avatar film, which I’ve only seen the one time, in theaters, when it first came out in 2009. Feel free to use this as your only recap before you go see the sequel this weekend.
6. The big, blue aliens
So yeah, this one is easy. Avatar is about these tall, lanky, giraffe-like aliens called Na’vi. They have stripes, they speak their own language and they have weird tentacles at the ends of their hair braids that allow them to interact with nature. They live in communion with nature on their home planet…a name I can’t remem–oh wait, it’s Pandora. I remember that! And the humans in the film had managed to create genetically engineered Na’vi bodies for themselves. I think the planet was toxic to humans, maybe? The alien designs are definitely memorable.
5. Jake Sully
I know that the main character is named Jake Sully. I know this because I watched an interview video a few years ago where the YouTuber was asking people on the street if they could name a single character from the Avatar movie. I think he’d give them a dollar? And the only character anyone could remember, or maybe the host just gave it to them, was Jake Sully. So there’s that. And I think he’s played by Sam Worthington? He hasn’t had much of a career since the first film, so hopefully this franchise pays off.
4. Michelle Rodriguez was in it
I think Michelle Rodriguez was in the first film. She was a helicopter pilot, right? And she joined the good guys by the end, even going so far as to paint her helicopter in tribal symbols. But then…maybe she died? And won’t be in the sequel? That I don’t know. I like Michelle Rodriguez. She seems like a cool person, and I like when she’s in a thing. So maybe she’ll be in the sequel!
3. The story was basically Pocahontas
This was the big criticism about the first Avatar. The plot was just that of Pocahontas. Some invading colonizers show up and lay waste to the native population. Then a man and a woman from both tribes fall in love and then fight against the colonizers. Obviously John Smith didn’t inhabit a genetically engineered body of a Native America, but the general plot beats were the same. So I wonder what classic tale The Way of Water will crib from? Maybe that straight-to-VHS Pocahontas 2!
2. The villain had a cool robot-sized knife
So I remember that the villain of the first film was a really gnarly solder guy. I don’t remember his name. The actor was…I wanna say…Stephen Lang? I’m not going to look it up. I remember that he had a mech suit by the end, and wasn’t that mech suit armed with a mech-sized hunting knife? Like, it was a normal-looking knife, just sized up to fit in to the hand of his big mech suit. That really stuck out to me. And I think he’s coming back in a Na’vi body in the sequel. Maybe he’ll get a Na’vi-sized hunting knife this time!
1. He flew the big dragon
One of the ways that the Na’vi communed with nature with their ponytail tentacles was by bonding with the flying beasts, which made getting around easier. And there was one big flying beast that was more badass than the others. It had a name, but I definitely don’t remember it. And the beast was orange and red, compared to the normally blue flying beasts. And Jake Sully proved he was hot stuff by taming and bonding with the big, orange flying dragon beast. That was a really big deal. No doubt there’s going to be a big, orange swimming beast that he has to bond with in the sequel. Surely that’s going to happen, right?