Avatar: The Way of Water takes us back to the planet of Pandora. Director James Cameron seeks to top his record-shattering Avatar from 2009, which was buoyed by its 3D uplift and breathtaking visual effects to claim the title of the highest-grossing movie ever made.
Sam Worthington is back as Jake Sully, the reluctant military operative turned valued member of the Na'Vi indigenous clan. Zoe Saldana also returns as fierce Na'Vi warrior, and Jake's partner, Neytiri in a movie that expands our understanding of the Pandoran ecosystem.
Here are the questions we're left with following the reveal of the Avatar: The Way of Water trailer.
1. Who is the human character mingling with the Na'Vi?
Actually, here's a mystery we can answer. The mystery teenage figure is Spider (played by Jack Champion), 'a human teenager who was born at Hell’s Gate, but prefers to spend his time in the Pandoran rainforest.'
As for the exact role he plays in the movie? That's anyone's guess at this stage. It looks like Spider has done a Sully and crossed the inter-species divide to help the oppressed indigenous peoples of Pandora.
Congratulations to @JackTheChamp on completing his last live action shot on Avatar 2! What a difference a few years makes.— Avatar (@officialavatar) August 19, 2020
ICYMI: Jack will play Spider, a human teenager who was born at Hell’s Gate, but prefers to spend his time in the Pandoran rainforest. pic.twitter.com/h9uxsbN9UW
2. How has Quaritch come back to life?
Stephen Lang's hench uber-villain Colonel Miles Quaritch was the most memorable character from the first Avatar movie. Quaritch was a military man who would stop at nothing to engineer the colonial advance into the sacred Na'Vi heartlands, and he initially enlisted Jake Sully as his man on the inside to get close to the Na'Vi.
Of course, Jake turned against Quaritch when he fully embraced his Na'Vi alter-ego. This resulted in a climactic fight to the death where the latter was struck down by two poisoned-tipped Na'Vi arrows, fired by Neytiri.
Lang is credited among the core Avatar 2 cast, which means that, somehow, Quaritch is still a feature in the ongoing narrative. The first movie made it clear that a human consciousness could be translated permanently into a Na'Vi body via the magic of the sacred Tree of Souls, powered by the mystical deity Eywa.
Is there a Na'Vi individual on the inside who has sought to resurrect Quaritch for their own ends? And is the individual in the following screenshot the reborn iteration of Quaritch?
3. How do the various environments of Pandora interact with one another?
The first Avatar movie was preoccupied with the lush tropical forests of Pandora. James Cameron took overt inspiration from the likes of the Amazon when he fashioned the dazzling and beautiful environment, one inflected with arboreal greenery, deadly animals and the seeds of the sacred tree.
In The Way of Water, as the title implies, the narrative shifts gears to an all-new environment. This time, the sacred waters of the Metkayina tribe, or 'reef people', take centre stage, and putting it on the big screen posed a challenge for Cameron and his cast.
Cameron had to adapt his already pioneering motion-capture photography system to capture his actors in an aquatic environment. The human players also had to learn to free dive for several minutes at a time.
We're wondering how the Metkayina's home will intersect with the other environments of Pandora. We can see from the following screenshot that there appears to be another arrangement of gravity-free flowing mountains, so we wonder how much other imagery will be imported from the earlier movie?
4. Is it Kate Winslet's character in the following screenshot?
For the first time since 1997's Titanic, Cameron and Kate Winslet have joined forces. Titanic catapulted Winslet to Oscar-nominated, A-list stardom so we're anticipating their new collaboration with a great deal of excitement.
Kate Winslet is playing Metkayina character Ronal, and she's explained how she learned to free-dive for up to seven minutes, 14 seconds. We're wondering if this is Winslet's character in the following screenshot? If so, she's clearly imbued with wonder and glee for the natural environment.
5. Will we see another bonding experience between Na'Vi and nature?
In the first Avatar movie, Jake Sully had to bond with the ikran, a fearsome, pterodactyl-type creature. This helped secure his place among the Na'Vi tribe.
Jake's eventual skills with his own ikran compelled him to track down and control the terrifying Toruk, a creature of profound legend among the Na'Vi peoples. Jake does so in order to regain the tribe's trust after it's revealed that he was initially sent in by Quaritch as a spy.
Jake's bravery helped turn the tide of the climactic battle between the Na'Vi and Quaritch's forces. In Avatar: The Way of Water, it seems like Jake has to re-learn his Na'Vi bonding skills, as evinced by the following beautiful underwater shot (if it is indeed him).
At least, that's what we're assuming is happening. The trailer wisely gives nothing away, allowing the spectacle to wash over us and the questions to come rolling in.