Avatar 2 cast used underwater jetpacks to make Na’vi better swimmers

One of the many unbelievable lengths that James Cameron went to when making Avatar: The Way of Water, was giving his cast underwater jetpacks

Avatar The Way of Water

The long-awaited Avatar sequel, The Way of Water, is going to introduce a semi-aquatic clan called the Metkayina, led by Kate Winslet and Cliff Curtis. Metkayina have biologically adapted to aquatic life. They are marked by tails and fin-like “strakes” that help them propel through the water. The Way of Water will also see Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their five children connecting with the water.

Cameron didn’t want to use webbed-feet for the Metkayina tribe, so what the crew created instead was something for the actors, performing in tanks of water with motion-capture equipment, to emulate these strake appendages.

“We essentially gave them jet packs, and they were able to trigger the jet packs themselves on the fly,” Cameron revealed to Entertainment Weekly. “So they’d complete a stroke, and when they’re in the glide phase of the stroke, they’d trigger the jet pack with a little tiny switch and it would push them forward a couple of meters. They’d move their hips like they had a tail. We called it the crocodile swim.”

Another scene will see Jake and Neytiri’s children jump in the ocean for the first time and experience the wonder. Kiri is their adopted teenage daughter, who was born from Grace’s avatar. Sigourney Weaver, who played Grace, is also playing Kiri. “She goes from this anxious and depressed state to one that’s joyful and reconnected over the course of a three-minute scene [in the water],” Cameron says.

Kiri’s joy is enhanced from this moment, more so than her siblings. “She’s a character who’s a true sensitive,” Cameron adds. “She’s a person who’s very connected to the world around them, far beyond a normal Na’vi — to the animals, to the plants, and to the rhythm and balance of life. When she jumps into the ocean, she has this transformative experience.”

We have to wait until December 22, 2022 to actually see the full extent of the underwater scenes that Cameron and his team have spent years perfecting. While we wait, check out our guide to the best science fiction movies.