James Cameron and his creative team spent years developing the stories and scripts for the Avatar sequels, and the first sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, knocked it out of the park! It was a great film that features some beautiful imagery and awesome battle oceanic sequences. Well, it turns out that one of the early drafts of the script for this movie featured an epic Na’vi battle in space!
Screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are two of the scribes Cameron hired to work on the films with Josh Friedman and Shane Salerno, and in a recent interview with EW, they shared some of the different directions that they explored and one of those things involved that space battle!
Jaffa talked about that and explained why it didn’t end up happening: “There was one idea of a space battle with Navi. That idea got a lot of traction, and we talked a lot about it. We were struggling, though. How would that work with the story that we’re telling? Jim said, ‘Well, give me a few weeks.’ He went off and he wrote an entire script. And, by the way, a brilliant script.”
That script actually went over well in the writer’s room, but in the end, it was thrown out. Jaffe explained: “At the end of the day, the whole script got thrown out because it just didn’t really work with the story we were telling.”
It would have been pretty awesome to see a space battle in this franchise. There’s still time, though! Maybe a space battle will make its way into one of the upcoming sequels. But, for now, that material was incorporated into the comic book Avatar: The High Ground, which was written by Sherri L. Smith. There were three volumes published and it includes the story from that scrapped script.
They played with a lot of different ideas in the writer’s room for these Avatar sequels and the writers would “often take an idea like that and explore it in earnest for a couple of days to see if it would be viable for the story.’“ Jaffe added, “Some of them would be just minor things, a minor idea that we would dial down on. It could be anything, from a plot point to a character to a character beat.”
Silver shared: “The idea was six months in a writers’ room, and that we were going to break down beat by beat three movies, which would describe a larger saga, but each movie would be distinct. We didn’t know which movie we were gonna write. We were gonna be invested in all of them and each beat of each movie. Then come Christmas [of 2013], Jim would tell us which movie we had and send us off to write, and he would work on writing each of the scripts with us.”
Cameron is a mad man, which is why he’s able to pull off the things that he does with his films! He is just juggling so many things when developing these Avatar films. Silver went on to describe what the actual writer’s room was like, saying: “I couldn’t even account how many whiteboards, and then whiteboards that flip over and you can write on the back. By the end, you would walk into the room and it was a bit of a maze to find your way.”
When talking about the amount of material they were working with, Silver said: “Just tons and tons of material. The challenge was, how do we fit all this in and have it resonate emotionally by the end of the movie and not be rushed? That’s really how our movie — the first one — became two.”
When Cameron’s “the Ash People” were brought up in the conversation, no one wanted to go there and talk abou it. The Ash Peolle are a new tribe of Na’vi that represent fire that will be interoduced in Avatar 3 and in regard to that Silver said: “I would be scared to talk about the Ash People.” But, Jaffe teased: “None of us hesitated at all when [Cameron] presented the idea. We all flipped out. We all were like, ‘Oh my God! It’s fantastic.'”
Silver then added: “There are huge surprises and expansion of worlds coming in 3 that make it feel very different.”
It must’ve been quite and incredible experience to be a part of developing this films and working with Cameron. Now, I hope that a Na’vi space battle makes it into one of the upcoming sequels!