All the Easter eggs and references you missed in Avatar 2. We’re diving back into the world of Pandora for Avatar 2: The Way of Water, but as the name suggests, darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter. Swapping the planet’s lush jungles for its open seas, this nautical adventure once again picks up the story of the Sully family.
James Cameron is back to his blockbuster best, hoping that Avatar 2 can follow in the footsteps of its predecessor to become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. 2009’s original was later dethroned by the might of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Endgame, and with The Way of Water needing to gross a jaw-dropping $2 billion just to break even, Cameron has a mountain to climb.
Still, with an all-star cast, an on-the-nose environmental story about what we’re doing to our own planet, and industry-defining visuals, Avatar 2 has the chops to go all the way. Now that the credits have rolled on the movie’s beefy 192-minute runtime, here are 10 Easter eggs you might’ve missed from Avatar: The Way of Water.
The Way of Water
Yes, Avatar 2 is one of those movies that has its title actually in the movie. In The Way of Water, Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) tells us that “the way of water” connects all things “before your birth and after your death.” More than this, water is the source of all life on Pandora as the “womb of the world.”
The first movie had the mantra of seeing through the eyes of another – with Jake literally seeing through the eyes of the Na’vi. The Way of Water is about looking past pre-conceptions of what makes you different to see a common goal. “I see you” repeatedly comes up as the Sully family and Metkayina clan clash with each other and the humans.
In the end, it’s the way of water that saves Jake’s life. Lo’ak explains the idea to his father before the pair escape the sinking ship. The movie also ends with Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) bonding with the Metkayina spirit tree as they’re fully accepted into this new way of life.
A new place to call home
It looks like each Avatar could focus on a new ecosystem, and after being confined to the jungles of Pandora for the first movie, we dived deep into the oceans for The Way of Water. The crux of The Way of Water is the Sully family trying to escape the avatar of Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang).
We see some of their old homes, with Avatar’s Halleluiah Mountains being based on China’s Floating Mountains. Due to the flux vortex of the first movie interfering with electronics, Quaritch and company can’t find the Na’vi anyway. Jake takes his wife and children as they flee to the island chain of the Metkayina clan.
Inspired by Polynesian cultures, Cameron and the team researched this way of life. As well as living close to a reef that’s teaming with life, the tribal markings of the Metkayina and their homes are inspired by Polynesia.
The Evolution of the Na’vi
There are 15 different Na’vi clans on Pandora, and while we haven’t seen all of them, The Way of Water puts a lot of focus on the Metkayina. We briefly saw the nomadic Olangi Clan in Avatar, while the video games and expanded lore have introduced us to a few more.
The Sullys were part of the jungle-dwelling Omaticaya Clan, and in The Way of Water, we see just how different the clans are depending on where on Pandora they live. The Metkayina have adapted to living by the sea with different physical attributes.
As well as a lighter (almost green) tinge to their skin to blend in easier with the crystal clear waters, they have wider wrists, flatter tails, and webbed fingers to help with swimming. It’s also interesting to note their eye blink sideways like a fish.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Cameron is no stranger to sci-fi spectacles, and alongside Aliens, his earlier work is remembered for Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Although there aren’t time-travelling robots trying to wipe out the human race, the return of the Sky People conjures up memories of the 1991 classic.
Even though Terminator 2 is partially set in a tech-ravaged Earth of 2029 and The Way of Water takes place on Pandora around 2168, the planet’s decimation at the hands of humanity mirrors the opening of the second Terminator movie, especially as the Resources Development Administration step out onto the planet in their exoskeletons.
When the ships land and obliterate life with their fiery thrusters, it also homages Sarah Connor’s nuclear apocalypse scene. Finally, when Quaritch finds the corpse of his human self, he crushes its skull like the T-series robots do in Terminator 2’s opening.
Although the character of Dr Grace Augustine perished in the first Avatar, Sigourney Weaver is back and pulling double duty in The Way of Water. Not only reprising her role as Augustine for archived video footage, Weaver actually plays Kiri – the adoptive daughter of Jake and Neytiri.
Of course, Cameron worked with Weaver on Aliens, which is held alongside Ridley Scott’s first movie as one of the franchise’s best. Kiri bares a shocking likeness to Weaver and the avatar of Augustine, and Weaver has previously praised the use of mo-cap, saying it’s helped expand her potential to play any age and any species.
Whether we’ll see Grace again remains to be seen, but with Kiri looking like she could be the MVP of the franchise’s future, expect a lot more from Weaver in the next four Avatar movies. That’s assuming they all go ahead as planned.
There are some serious daddy issues in The Way of Water, and as well as Spider (Jack Champion) struggling to get over the fact his father is the villainous Quaritch, there are questions about who’s Grace’s baby daddy.
We’re told that Kiri is born from Grace’s incapacitated avatar, but the question of her father isn’t answered. Some think Dr Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) knocked up Grace’s avatar, but more likely, it was some form of immaculate conception. This lines up with Kiri’s underwater fit because epileptics were sometimes seen as holy figures in ancient Christianity.
Kiri clearly has a connection to Eywa, thanks to her ability to breathe longer underwater and control Pandora’s animals. With Grace also connecting to the planet’s deity before her passing, it’s possible Kiri will become a Na’vi embodiment of Eywa as some sort of messiah.
Losing a brother
With The Way of Water raising the stakes, many clocked that there would be a typically tragic twist at some point. After all, the Sully family has grown a lot since we last left Jake and Neytiri.
When the Na’vi lead an attack on a train of weapons, Lo’ak runs into battle, and gets his older brother injured. This foreshadows the movie’s end when Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) is shot and fatally wounded aboard the whaling vessel.
Throughout Avatar 2, Jake tells Neteyam to stop taking the rap for his “knucklehead” brother. It’s also Neteyam who sticks up for Lo’ak when Aonung and the Metkayina boys mock the Sullys as “freaks.” The Way of Water ends on a real tear-jerker, with the same opening shot of Jake teaching Neteyam how to fish rounding off the movie.
It would’ve been a shame if Cameron didn’t give the nod to his other great achievement in cinema. After all, 1997’s Titanic was once the highest-grossing movie of all time.
There’s Titanic belle Kate Winslet, who’s hard to spot as Ronal – the Metkayina shaman and wife of Tonowari. Winslet held her breath underwater for seven minutes and 15 seconds, which smashed Tom Cruise’s previous record for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.
Visually, scenes where Neytiri and Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) escape through the sinking ship echo moments from the ‘90s movie. In particular, parts, where they climb vertically, just like Jack and Rose, did before the doomed Titanic went down, remind us of the Oscar-winning outing. The difference is the cat-like Na’vi can scale the ship far easier than Jack and Rose.
Cameron plays through his greatest hits with winks to everything from T2 to the Abyss and True Lies. However, it’s not just his own work that influences The Way of Water. In a not-so-subtle Easter egg, one scene looks like it’s pulled directly from Simon Wincer’s Free Willy.
The Way of Water’s whaling scenes make for an uncomfortable (but fascinating) watch, and from this point out, the action really kicks it up a notch. After Lo’ak forms a bond with Payakan, the space whale, we guessed he’d become a supersized saviour.
One scene has Payakan launch himself over the humans and do a twirl – just like the titular whale did in 1993’s Free Willy. The Way of Water wasn’t a family-friendly endeavour where Payakan was jumping over a little boy to freedom. Instead, he landed on the ship and crushed a bunch of evil whalers.
There was no post-credits scene in Avatar 2, so those who stuck around to the bitter end simply got to listen to The Weeknd’s “Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength)”. Despite there not being a direct setup for Avatar 3, there are plenty of plotlines we’re sure will continue.
Spider saving the Na’vi version of Quaritch means the big bad will be back in the next chapter. Even though Lang is tipped to be the antagonist of all the movies, we could be heading toward some sort of Darth Vader twist where Quaritch will eventually become the good guy.
Now that the Sullys have been embraced by the Metkayina, we assume we’ll stick with the underwater adventures. Still, we’ve got Edie Falco’s General Ardmore and the rest of the RDA to deal with. Speaking to Collider, producer Jon Landau confirmed Avatar 3 is 95% filmed – as is the first act of Avatar 4.
Going under the working title of Avatar: The Seed Bearer, newcomers include Oona Chaplin, David Thewlis, and Michelle Yeoh. Cameron has promised the third movie could work as a satisfying ending if The Way of Water falters at the box-office, but somehow, we don’t see that happening.
If you enjoyed Avatar 2, then check out our Avatar 2 review. We’ve also prepped a lot of Pandora-based content, including articles on the Avatar 2 runtime and the Avatar 2 cast. We’ve also got an Avatar 2 ending explained and a guide to the Avatar 3 release date.
If that’s not enough, we’ve broken down ‘Everything you need to know before watching Avatar 2‘.
Avatar 2 is in theatres now.