Pregnant ‘avatar’ warrior is ‘last bastion’ of female empowerment

James Cameron claims Avatar: The Way of Water is the “strongest” film for women yet – thanks to the sight of a pregnant warrior.

The upcoming film picks up a decade where the original left off with the story of the Sully clan training as warriors while raising a family – and Cameron chose to get Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) pregnant .

“Everybody’s always talking about female empowerment,” Cameron told Robert Rodriguez on Variety’s Directors on Directors series. “But what is such a big part of a woman’s life that we as men don’t experience? And I thought, ‘Well, if you really want to go all the way down the rabbit hole of female empowerment, let’s have a warrior, six months pregnant, in battle.’ ”

The 68-year-old director explained that the character’s pregnancy was meant to break with stereotypes that pregnant women were unfit and powerless and to show a society where women had to struggle to survive.

Director James Cameron attends the press conference for "Avatar: The Way of Water" on December 09, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.
Director James Cameron says Avatar: The Way of Water is an “empowering” film for women.
Chung Sung Jun/Getty Images
Jake Sully, voiced by Sam Worthington, left, and Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, in one scene "Avatar: The Way of Water."
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in Avatar: The Way of Water.
20th Century Studios via AP

“That doesn’t happen in our society – probably not for hundreds of years. But I guarantee you, women used to have to fight to survive 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 assume. I thought, ‘Let’s break the real boundaries.’ For me it was the last bastion that you don’t see,” he said.

Cameron also claimed that this film showed women’s empowerment better than Marvel.

“Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel — all these other amazing women are showing up, but they’re not mothers and they’re not pregnant while they’re fighting evil,” he said.

Kate Winslet, who portrays Ronal in the sequel, advocated that Cameron created “female” roles that were “balanced.”

Ronal, voiced by Kate Winslet, left, and Tonowari, voiced by Cliff Curtis, in one scene "Avatar: The Way of Water."
Ronal (Kate Winslet) and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) in Avatar: The Way of Water.
20th Century Studios via AP

“Jim [Cameron] is so remarkable in creating roles for women who are both powerful and measured and physically capable and I really admire that. It’s something that we obviously need more of, and we’ve been talking about this stuff for years,” Winslet, 47, told Total Films magazine about Games Radar.

“But the point is, Jim did it do it for years: He has been creating great roles for women for years. In his films, there are more female leads than males, and that’s really, really important and really inspiring,” said the Mare of Easttown producer.

Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters on Friday, December 16th. Pregnant ‘avatar’ warrior is ‘last bastion’ of female empowerment

Emma Bowman

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