According to James Cameron, his decision to have pregnant female Na’vi actively serve as both warriors and hunters in Avatar: The Way Of Water was motivated by his desire “to go all the way down the rabbit hole of female empowerment”.
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Cameron offered this insight into his creative process during a recent discussion held between himself and director Robert Rodriguez as part of Variety’s Directors on Directors interview series.
At one point during their talk, after recalling how during his viewing of the Avatar sequel he both “was really taken by the fact that Neytitri (Zoe Saldaña) hunts while she’s pregnant” and had noticed that “one of the characters [goes] into battle pregnant”, Rodriguez asked Cameron, “Why was that important?”
“Everybody’s always talking about female empowerment,” Cameron explained to his former Alita: Battle Angel collaborator, “but what is such a big part of a woman’s life that we, as men, don’t experience?”
He continued, “And I thought, ‘Well, if you’re really going to go all the way down the rabbit hole of female empowerment, let’s have a female warrior who’s six months pregnant in battle.'”
“It doesn’t happen in our society — probably hasn’t happened for hundreds of years,” Cameron argued, “But I guarantee you, back in the day, women had to fight for survival and protect their children, and it didn’t matter if they were pregnant. And pregnant women are more capable of being a lot more athletic than we, as a culture, acknowledge.”
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“I thought, ‘Let’s take the real boundaries off,’ he concluded. “To me, it was the last bastion that you don’t see. Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel — all these other amazing women come up, but they’re not moms and they’re not pregnant while they’re fighting evil.”
Interestingly, in the years Cameron has spent editing his return to Pandora, it seems Hollywood has actually caught up to Cameron’s thinking regarding pregnant women in combat being the pinnacle of female empowerment.
More and more productions are beginning to feature more and more women putting themselves into ever precarious situations despite the obvious risks posed to them and their unborn child.
Alongside Avatar: The Way of Water, at the forefront of this charge is Sony Animation’s Across the Spider-Verse, which upon its theatrical debut in June 2023 will see a five-months-pregnant version of Jessica Drew fighting on the front lines of the series’ next multiversal conflict.
Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters.
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