James Cameron, the director of Avatar: The Way of Water, opens up about the reasons he often features love stories in his films. Cameron is behind some of the biggest blockbusters ever made, launching his career with The Terminator, which kicked off a franchise. After that, he directed Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens, and True Lies before making Titanic, which went on to be the highest-grossing movie ever at the time. Cameron then bested Titanic’s box office numbers with Avatar, which has now accumulated over $2.9 billion worldwide since its release in 2009, making it the highest-grossing movie of all time. While most of Cameron’s work falls into action and sci-fi territory, a common theme runs through his filmography, with love stories often playing a central role.
While speaking with Empire magazine, Cameron opened up about why love stories are so prominent in his films. While Titanic is the most obvious of his movies to highlight romance, Cameron elaborates on his other works, speaking on how they begin as genre projects, like Terminator or The Abyss. However, the director then works on “how to create real emotional stakes for the characters,” which ultimately leads to him including love stories. Check on Cameron’s comments on love stories in his films below:
“I’ve always said “all of my movies are love stories,” but I wouldn’t say my creative process necessarily starts there, except for the obvious one: Titanic. I pitched it as “Romeo and Juliet on a sinking ship,” so it was a love story from the jump. With others, like The Terminator and The Abyss, they started off as genre stories — “a time-traveling hit man targeted on an insignificant person whose existence has great significance in the future,” or in the case of The Abyss, a high-concept one-liner: “Close Encounters underwater.” But then as I try to figure out how to create real emotional stakes for the characters, my stories somehow always become love stories. I guess I’ve always believed that to be truly heroic, a character must put someone else before themself and be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice if necessary. So, the love story is my path to creating powerful and heroic characters. It may be new love (The Terminator, Titanic, Avatar), it may be a marriage being tested (The Abyss, True Lies), it may be the love of a parent for a child (Terminator 2, Aliens, and Avatar: The Way Of Water). I guess I’m just a romantic at heart.”
How Avatar 2 Continues Cameron’s Love Story Trend
With Avatar: The Way of Water due to hit theaters soon, trailers indicate that Cameron’s use of love stories is likely to continue in the sequel. The director has incorporated love stories in his high-profile action films before, like Harry and Helen in True Lies, Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese in Terminator, and even the pseudo-mother-daughter relationship of Ripley and Newt in Aliens. The release of Avatar gave audiences the same, featuring epic action amid a love story between Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully and Zoe Saldaña’s Neytiri.
Trailers for Avatar: The Way of Water have shown that Jake and Neytiri have started a family since the first film. With the movie seemingly featuring their family dynamic so prominently, Cameron has already set the emotional stakes in place. While the action is bound to be a spectacle to behold, the core of the story will see their family struggling to deal with both new and familiar threats to their home world of Pandora, which will likely put them all in danger. Jake and Neytiri’s romance still looks to be a key component, but the emotional stakes are likely to now see them fighting for their children, making the love story present in the film more that of parent and child.
Many details surrounding Avatar: The Way of Water are still under wraps. However, with Cameron’s past films and his reliance on love stories to grip the audience, the sequel is set to deliver the same in new and exciting ways. So while audiences know James Cameron can deliver on the action in Avatar: The Way of Water, the film is sure to also highlight another love story, keeping audiences holding their breath through each tense moment.