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James Cameron Cut ‘Avatar 2’ Gun Violence Scenes Because He Didn’t Want to ‘Fetishize’ It

"I don’t know if I would want to fetishize the gun, like I did on a couple of ‘Terminator’ movies 30-plus years ago, in our current world. What’s happening with guns in our society turns my stomach.”

Avatar : The Way of Water

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

“Avatar: Way of the Water” features plenty of action and violence, as the Na’vi people fight their human invaders with spears, swords, and hands. But although the humans and their Na’vi avatars carry many guns, director James Cameron attempted to keep the weapons’ use to a minimum, even cutting various gun action scenes out of the final cut.

“I actually cut about 10 minutes of the movie targeting gunplay action,” Cameron said in an interview with Esquire Middle East. “I wanted to get rid of some of the ugliness, to find a balance between light and dark. You have to have conflict, of course. Violence and action are the same thing, depending on how you look at it. This is the dilemma of every action filmmaker, and I’m known as an action filmmaker.”

Cameron further explained that, given rampant gun violence in the United States, he felt uncomfortable with glorifying gun usage in his movies, saying that his approach to certain action films he made — like the “Terminator” films — would likely change had he made them in today’s climate.

“I look back on some films that I’ve made, and I don’t know if I would want to make that film now. I don’t know if I would want to fetishize the gun, like I did on a couple of ‘Terminator’ movies 30-plus years ago, in our current world. What’s happening with guns in our society turns my stomach,” Cameron said.

“I’m happy to be living in New Zealand where they just banned all assault rifles two weeks after that horrific mosque shooting a couple of years ago,” he added, referring to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack.

“There was more gunplay in the original cut of the film, more machine guns, more brutality. And I had this epiphany about six weeks before I locked picture,” Cameron told IndieWire in an earlier interview. “I woke up from a nightmare. And I thought, ‘I don’t have the balance between the beauty and the attraction, the epiphany parts of the movie, and the brutality.’ I didn’t have so much a problem with the human soldiers, I had more of a problem with Jake, because he’s our character that we’re following. … I cut a lot of stuff out that was mostly gun-oriented.”

“Avatar: Way of the Water” is now playing in theaters.

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