While the long-gestating Avatar 2 was recently moved to a COVID-delayed release in December 2022, the sequel to the 3D-reviving 2009 blockbuster now continues its New Zealand production while teasing the occasional tidbit. The latest such tidbit comes in the form of a substantive look at a new vehicle that the energy-coveting Resources Development Administration (RDA) will utilize in the film.
The official Avatar twitter account, by way of producer Jon Landau, posted a set of concept art images of an RDA vehicle called the Crabsuit. Officially described as “a human driven multifunction submersible,” the underwater walker will be one of several new vehicles seen in not just Avatar 2, but its three planned subsequent follow-ups, all the way to Avatar 5.
Indeed, the Crabsuit, which mimics the innate underwater swimming and walking functionality of the eponymous crustacean species, is something that’s right up the alley of director James Cameron, whose hobby as a maritime explorer has been long-known, especially with his 1989 sci-fi epic, The Abyss, along with scenes showcased in the ship-salvaging contemporary wraparound story of 1997’s Titanic, not to mention his real-life 2012 deep-sea exploration of the Mariana Trench. The Crabsuit therefore hints a clear underwater focus for Avatar 2, which has been expected to showcase more of the stunning visuals of the planet Pandora.
Avatar 2 will continue the story of the gone-native RDA soldier, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who has shed his paralyzed human form to permanently exist in a Na’vi avatar alongside mate Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and now—13 years after the first film—has kids in tow. Thus, the Crabsuit is an ominous reveal for the Sully family, brandishing the RDA’s “CET-OPS” (Cetaceous Operations) division, teasing an upcoming underwater theater in the continuing war waged against the slender, cerulean Na’vi (of which the Sully family belong,) over their luminescent planetary resources. Additionally, we can expect the Crabsuit to be deployed from another vehicle we’ve already seen, the massive mothership, the Sea Dragon, which was teased in a post this past December.
The Avatar sequels, however, have been the focus of the news cycle for years, and not just because they will follow up 2009’s 3D trend-setting massive $2.79 billion worldwide-grossing hit and former all-time box office topper until last year’s Avengers: Endgame. That’s because director James Cameron’s plans to concoct not one but four sequels subsequently is a task so monumental that some might say it borders between supreme ambition and Hollywood hubris. Additionally, with Avatar 2 now delayed until the end of 2022—thirteen whole years after its predecessor—it raises questions about the franchise’s continued viability in the 2020s, especially since the landscape has changed so drastically since 2009, and the 3D trend that the film started is dissipating.
Yet, this is James Cameron, a.k.a. The King of the World, we’re talking about here, and prognosticators have underestimated him to their detriment. Thus, it will be interesting to see how 20th Century Fox’s Avatar film franchise relaunches—now under the corporate umbrella of Disney—with Avatar 2 (Dec. 16, 2022), Avatar 3 (Dec. 20, 2024), Avatar 4 (Dec. 18, 2026) and its purportedly final entry, Avatar 5 (Dec. 22, 2028).