According to James Cameron, the only reason audiences are more likely to recall the name of every hero who appeared at the end of Infinity War than a single character in Avatar is solely because the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had more entries than the latter franchise.
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The eccentric director shared his opinion on the popularity disparity between Disney’s long-running superhero franchise and his soon-to-be-two entry, blue-skinned retelling of Pocahontas during a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter given in promotion of his upcoming Avatar: The Way of Water.
Asked by the outlet’s Senior Film Editor Rebecca Keegan for his thoughts on the audience skepticism surrounding his ambitious multi-sequel plans for Avatar, particularly in light of the aforementioned lack of an impression the original film made on audiences, the director admitted that while he’s heard the discourse, he hasn’t really given it any weight.
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“There’s skepticism in the marketplace around, ‘Oh, did it ever make any real cultural impact? ‘Can anybody even remember the characters’ names’?” said Cameron.
“When you have extraordinary success, you come back within the next three years,” he explained. “That’s just how the industry works. You come back to the well, and you build that cultural impact over time.”
“Marvel had maybe 26 movies to build out a universe, with the characters cross-pollinating,” he concluded. “So it’s an irrelevant argument. We’ll see what happens after this film.”
While such bravado towards and confidence in the Na’vi is typical of Cameron – despite his ironic belief that testosterone is a “toxin” – what makes his opinion particularly noteworthy is the insight it provides into Hollywood’s view on what endears a given property to fans.
In the eyes of an ever-increasingly mechanical industry, they no longer care to craft strong stories, develop unique characters, or respond to fan sentiment.
Instead, they believe that by just beating audiences over the head with a given character the audience will eventually give in and accept the artificial narrative that they are incredibly popular.
Literally quantity over quality.
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And this isn’t just a paranoid conspiracy theory extrapolated from the words of one director.
Audiences have seen this philosophy put into place with increasingly tiring frequency over the past few years across entertainment, as seen in the aggressive marketing pushes behind characters such as Iron Heart, actors like Simu Liu, or the idea – as seen most recently in DC’s Dark Crisis: Young Justice miniseries – that any work made before 2022 was inherently bigoted.
At the end of the day, audiences who don’t consider key-jangling to be the height of human culture don’t care how frequently something is given attention, but rather what kind it is receiving.
Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters on December 16th.
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