When James Cameron’s Avatar hit theaters in 2009, few could have predicted the new, CGI-laden intellectual property would enjoy such a staggering box office return, becoming the first film in history to gross two billion dollars. The film would be nominated for a whopping nine Academy Awards, and end up winning in three categories, all of them related to the film’s stunning visuals. Given Hollywood’s propensity to capitalize on success, a sequel was inevitable and long discussed by Cameron. That sequel finally arrived in December of 2022 with Avatar: The Way of Water. Boasting one of the largest budgets for any motion picture and a stunning new array of underwater motion capture technology pioneered by Wētā FX (formerly Weta Digital, of The Lord of the Rings fame), Avatar: The Way of Water carries audiences once again to the mid-22nd century moon of Pandora for another adventure. With more films on the way, Cameron’s series is here to stay. But despite the fantastical subject matter, the story that he is crafting throughout the Avatar films is very quickly shaping up to focus on something surprisingly domestic: the nuclear family. For the cultural apologist interested in engaging in the discussion about the traditional family unit, Avatar: The Way of Water is a major cultural artifact that presents the opportunity to do just that.
**Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water .**
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