As we head into "Avatar" season, it's worth noting just how successful James Cameron's sci-fi epic was at the time of its release. It's the kind of mad scientist spectacle that feels uniquely special when compared against the current blockbuster landscape. Although folks like to make the same jokes about the film resembling "Dances with Wolves" or "FernGully," the truth of the matter is that "Avatar" is a wholly original idea that went on to secure the coveted spot of the highest grossing movie of all time with a $2.9 billion box office intake.

With "Avatar" taking over 15 years to develop, it only makes sense that Cameron would take another 13 to develop its line-up of sequels, let alone "Avatar: The Way of Water." The man is a perfectionist filmmaker with the mind of an engineer, so if it means taking another year to develop a piece of groundbreaking underwater technology, then that's exactly what Jimmy's going to do. In less than two weeks, we'll finally get to see what he's been up to for all these years.

With such a big gap between films, I'm very interested to see how much has changed with these characters, as Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) return among an entire cast of fresh Na'vi faces. "The Way of Water" primes itself to show the larger scope and ecosystem of Pandora. And in order to get its original stars in the right mindset, Cameron provided them with a crucial text.

Filling In The Gaps

During a virtual press conference attended by /Film, Worthington talked about how Cameron helped him and Saldańa with a script that acts as an in-between story, exploring what happened between films:

"Jim, I'm okay to say this, gave me a script that was 'Avatar' 1.5, that, unto itself, is amazing and detailed and full of what they've kind of gone through over that gap. I think it was part of Jim realizing that story was about them being warriors and taking on the battles over the clans and things like that […] You wanted to explore what this family dynamic is and the natural extension of this love story. It gave us a good jumping-off point to understand how to fill in that gap that's missing."

Whereas the theatrical gap between "Avatar" and "The Way of Water" is a little over a decade, the in-universe timeline puts it at about 15 years between the two stories. There's a lot to catch up on, especially since Jake and Neytiri have a bountiful-sized family to take care of. There's Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), the eldest child, Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), the second-born, and Tuktirey (Trinity Bliss), the youngest biological child, in addition to Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) and Miles (Jack Champion), both of whom were adopted by the Omaticaya couple.

I would be more concerned with how "The Way of Water" would find the time to fill in the time jump with all of these new characters, if Cameron hadn't already proved he's proficient at working with large ensembles. Chances are that the script will be made available at some point, but if you want to get a head start, then you may want to focus your attention toward Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Comics Has You Covered

Over the past few years, Dark Horse has been easing folks back into the world of Pandora with a series of comics. There's "Tsu'tey's Path" and "Adapt or Die," both of which are prequels that take place before the events of "Avatar." But to get yourself into the mindset of "The Way of Water," there's "The Next Shadow," which chronicles the tribulations of Jake rising among the ranks of the Omaticaya clan. The important one, however, arrives in the form of "The High Ground," a three volume graphic novel series that leads directly into the highly anticipated sequel.

The synopsis for Volume 1 appears to set Jake up for the ensuing battle waiting ahead of him in "The Way of Water" (via Dark Horse):

"After years of peace, Jake Sully has settled down with Neytiri and raised a family, so for him, the stakes are even higher than when he first went to war against the corporate might of the RDA."

Volume 1 of "The High Ground" is currently available, with the subsequent volumes coming out in January 2023. Although the series is penned by Sherri L. Smith, according to a report from Inverse, the story emanated from what would have been Cameron's original idea for "The Way of Water." "It was missing one of those critical elements about sequels, which is that it didn't go enough into the unexpected," says Cameron. As the press tour rolls on, I'm sure we'll get more details on whether "The High Ground" is close to what Worthington and Saldaña were given to read.

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is set to hit theaters on December 16, 2022.

Read this next: Everything You Need To Remember About Avatar

The post James Cameron Wrote Avatar 1.5 to Help Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldańa Prepare for the Way of Water appeared first on /Film.