Avatar: The Way Of Water

The Star-Crossed Lovers of Avatar: The Way of Water (Review)

The following article contains plot spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water.

James Cameron’s latest 3-hour epic, Avatar: The Way of Water, has already grossed over 600 billion dollars worldwide at the box office. The Avatar discourse is reaching a feverish pitch, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the first Avatar film was released to record-breaking numbers.

Some discussions are sociological, examining the Polynesian influences in the culture of the Metkayina, an aquatic sea clan led by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and Ronal (Kate Winslet). Other discussions are more humourous, such as the enthusiastic response to Jake Sully’s repeated use of the phrase “babygirl” (a nickname for his adopted teenage daughter Kiri).

However, one crucial part of the story that has flown under the radar of many is the blossoming romance between Spider (Jack Champion) and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver).

Spider (Jack Champion)

The first Avatar film focused on Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), both as a love story and a heroic battle against the colonial violence and environmental destruction against Pandora by the Sky People. Much of the focus in Avatar: The Way of Water has shifted towards a younger generation of characters, including Lo’ak (Jake and Neytiri’s second-eldest child), Kiri, and Spider (a human child genetically descended from Colonel Miles Quaritch).

Spider has grown up on Pandora, raised by the human scientists permitted to stay by the Na’vi. Spider also treats Jake and Neytiri’s family unit as his own. Spider’s character arc is deeply rooted in the turmoil of being taken hostage by the Na’vi Recombinant version of Colonel Miles Quaritch. Na’vi-Quaritch is the ‘ghost’ of Spider’s birth father.

Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) and Grace (also Sigourney Weaver)

Meanwhile, Kiri is a Na’vi born under mysterious circumstances. Her birth mother is the Na’vi Avatar of Dr. Grace Augustine, who passed away in the first Avatar film. The details of Kiri’s conception are a mystery. Kiri also has rapidly developing powers channeled through the Pandora deity, Eywa. Kiri is emotionally tormented by her forced separation from Spider and the mystery of her origin and powers.

Kiri’s connection to Spider is established quickly in the film’s opening act. They playfully chase each other. The camera lingers on him while he looks yearningly at her. He shouts at their enemies when she is held captive. Even when they are separated, they yearn to be reunited.

Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) in The Terminator

James Cameron has a noteworthy pattern across his stories. His filmography is full of tragic, star-crossed lovers. Kyle Reese travelled back in time to save Sarah Connor and died to save her and their unborn son. Jack Dawson died to save Rose DeWitt Butaker from freezing to death after the Titanic sank. Jake Sully died while fighting to save Neytiri, the Na’vi, and Pandora. Although Jake Sully was reborn into his Na’vi Avatar, the pattern holds strong.

The final act of Avatar: The Way of Water shows Spider and Kiri running across a sinking ship. The imagery is highly reminiscent of Titanic‘s dramatic conclusion.

Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet)

Spider and Kiri come from different species just like Jake and Neytiri did. Jack and Rose were from different classes, and Kyle and Sarah were from different times. James Cameron has clearly laid the foundation for Spider and Kiri to develop into the next epic, tragic romance of his stories.

The pattern of Cameron’s work suggest that Spider will die to save Kiri. With numerous Avatar sequels in the work, any film could be the one to place Spider in the line of fire. Whether or not he is resurrected into a Na’Vi Avatar remains to be seen.

James Cameron’s affinity for romance is incredibly endearing. Although many reference Cameron for his epic action, love is always at the heart of his stories. Spider saving his not-father Na’vi-Quaritch from drowning will undoubtedly lead to an epic conflict within the Sully family. The stage is set for a Romeo and Juliet type of fracture that will solidify Spider and Kiri as star-crossed lovers.

For more of my thoughts and analysis on Avatar: The Way of Water, check out my full review here: