"Such a waste of an interesting world building": Why was Avatar 2 deemed racist explained as movie comes under fire

Avatar 2 under fire for racist themes (image via Getty Images)
Avatar 2 under fire for racist themes (image via Getty Images)

Fans and critics are calling out James Cameron's long-awaited sequel Avatar 2: Way of the Water for being racist and for allegedly appropriating Native American culture and its themes of featuring a "white savior complex."

The film dropped in theaters on December 16, 2022. While Avatar 2 grossed over $435 million worldwide in its first weekend itself, many call for it to be boycotted.


Like the first film, its follow-up focuses on colonizers taking over the planet of Pandora, its land, and resources as Earth's resources are close to being depleted.

The cast is predominantly white and plays the fictional Na'vi aliens who inhabit the planet, other than Zoe Saldana, with a black and Latina heritage, and Cliff Curtis, who is of Maori descent.

Netizens were left fuming after watching the movie. One Twitter user, Duncan, @Duncan999666, said:

Screenshot of a Twitter user's reaction to Avatar 2 (Image via Twitter)
Screenshot of a Twitter user's reaction to Avatar 2 (Image via Twitter)

"I cringed throughout the whole movie": Netizens blast Avatar 2 for its racist undertones

Some internet users who saw the film were left angry and immediately tweeted their reactions. They called it "racist," pointing out that most Na'vi tribespeople are played by people of color, whereas technologically savvy are played by white cast members. They indicated that despite the movie being "mediocre," it still isn't considered a "flop."

A Native American social media influencer and co-chair of the Indigenous Pride L.A., Yuè Begay, tweeted her disappointment at the film. Her post garnered a lot of attention, with over 45,000 users liking it and over 10,000 retweeting it. She said:

Here are some of the other comments seen on the micro-blogging platform blasting the film:

One user, Dr. BlackDeer, shared a list of sci-fi films made by Indigenous people and tweeted:

Film critic Kathia Woods harshly condemned Avatar 2 in her tweet, calling it a "mess."

However, her post was met with mockery, with many users replying with sarcastic responses. Here is one example:

Not everyone found the movie racist, and they took to Twitter to state the same. They prompted everyone to "just enjoy the spectacle."

Here are some of the responses by the twitterati:

James Cameron called out on insensitive comment about the Lakota people

In 2010, James Cameron spoke to The Guardian about the Xingu people of Brazil and their fight to stop the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Amazon, calling it a "real-life Avatar confrontation." He explained that the movement inspired him and was a "driving force" in his writing of Avatar.


According to ABC News, the Titanic director denied that the movie was racist. He explained that the film allows one to open their eyes and "truly see others," respecting their differences, to "prevent conflict and live harmoniously." He stated that he:

"Hardly think(s) that is a racist message."

This was not the only controversy surrounding the first film. In 2011, Cameron and his Lightstorm Entertainment were sued by Eric Ryder over plagiarizing his ideas. The term "blue face" emerged after the director faced appropriation allegations following its release in 2009. It was used similarly to "black face" or "yellow face."

The director is yet to comment on the current backlash.

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Edited by Shreya Das