You know how James Cameron recently revealed that he cut about 10 minutes from Avatar: The Way of Water? With all of those 10 minutes being gunplay scenes? This may be just my opinion on the matter, but I think this epic sci-fi film is just a bit less epic because of those cut 10 minutes. Here’s why.

Avatar: The Not-So-Secretly Military Sci-Fi Film

"Avatar" screenshot showing Jake Sully rolling towards the interior of Hell's Gate base in his wheelchair.
There’s a military base right there. It’s hard to deny that military science fiction is one of this film’s genres.

First and foremost, I have to point out that both Avatar films are military science fiction films. Yes, many sources (including Wikipedia) describe both Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water as epic science fiction films. They’re not wrong, but I feel they’re not telling the whole story either.

Looking at the above screenshot, you can see the Resources Development Administration’s (RDA) base on the planet of Pandora. Rather appropriately, the RDA troops have dubbed it “Hell’s Gate”. As you can see though, Hell’s Gate is basically a military base built to protect the refinery, complete with barracks, an airfield, walls, and a whole lot of soldiers. Very heavily armed soldiers, as we see when they fight the Na’vi in the first Avatar film back in 2009.

"Avatar" screenshot showing RDA soldiers and mechs opening up on charging Na'vi cavalry.
The very model of a modern major army, I see.

We see that the RDA soldiers are wielding a variety of guns. These range from assault rifles like the ones above to mounted machine guns like they were using on their aircraft. Even their large mech suits were using guns. Albeit, they’re more like autocannons modified for mech use, the basic principle still applies. Not only that, but the RDA’s use of guns helps contrast them with the Na’vi, who are armed only with bows (albeit firing spear-sized arrows) and the rare stolen gun.

So we’ve established then that the Avatar film franchise (including Avatar: The Way of Water) is a military science fiction story, yes? And that guns are central to a military science fiction story, yes? Especially for a story like this that portrays industrialism versus nature? With the guns representing industrialism? Then would you not agree with me then that reducing the gunplay in an Avatar film might detract from the film as a whole?

Avatar: The Way of Water ~ Better with More Guns?

Every action scene is better with more guns. Especially in a military sci-fi story.

I can understand why James Cameron cut out those 10 minutes of gunplay from Avatar: The Way of Water. With his reasoning about his experiences involving guns, I can even understand why he would do it and even sympathize with him on the subject of mass shootings and such. However, even then, I think his cutting those 10 minutes out detracts from the film as a whole.

With guns being as central to military science fiction stories as they are, cutting 10 whole minutes of gunplay from Avatar: The Way of Water strikes me as detrimental to the film. With less gunplay, there’s less contrast between the RDA and the Na’vi. The contrast isn’t entirely gone though. We can clearly see that the RDA is still at it on Pandora, trying to get those precious natural resources. The difference here is that the loss of those 10 minutes of gunplay potentially makes them less contrasting with the Na’vi. Another issue is that it could potentially make the RDA less potent as villains. With less gunplay, it may not only make them less threatening but also generate in-universe plot holes at worst.

James Cameron: Maybe He Knew Better?

Although to be fair to James Cameron, we don’t actually know what’s in those 10 minutes of gunplay he cut out of Avatar: The Way of Water. He’s certainly not describing that cut content with any greater detail than he did in that interview. Who knows? Maybe those 10 minutes really were irrelevant to the plot and didn’t add anything to the film as a whole. I would love to see those 10 minutes of gunplay added back into the film as a…I guess, a Director’s Change of Heart Cut. Or even in the form of a bunch of deleted scenes, at the very least. It would tell us what those scenes were like, and whether they really were irrelevant or if they could’ve made the film just that little bit better.

In any case, though, that’s probably not going to happen until we get the Blu-ray release of Avatar: The Way of Water. And given that they literally just released this film in theaters, that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. We’ll have to wait patiently for that Blu-ray release to arrive for home media. Eventually. Tune back into THS much later to find out when that happens when we do.

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