From “Aliens” to “Terminator 2,” James Cameron has no shortage of badass female action heroes in his films. And according to the director, Kate Winslet’s Ronal in the “Avatar” sequel “The Way of Water” is the most “empowering” one yet — and more empowering than superheroes like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel — for one simple reason: She’s marching into battle pregnant.
In a Variety Directors on Directors interview, Cameron spoke with Robert Rodriguez about his upcoming film, which is set over a decade after the original and sees main characters Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) leaving their tribe for the Metkayina reef people’s home, where they’re given shelter by clan leader’s Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and Ronal. During the conversation, Rodriguez asked Cameron about the decision for Ronal to be pregnant during the events depicted in the film.
“Everybody’s always talking about female empowerment,” Cameron said. “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’re really going to go all the way down the rabbit hole of female empowerment, let’s have a female warrior who’s six months pregnant in battle.’”
Cameron said that Ronal’s pregnancy reflects societies upon which the Na’vi are partly based, where women hunted and fought with the men, and that he wanted her depiction in the film to shatter myths about how pregnant women are helpless or incapable. Cameron called this depiction of a pregnant woman “the last bastion” of female roles that aren’t seen in movies.
“It doesn’t happen in our society — probably hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. But I guarantee you, back in the day, women had to fight for survival and protect their children, and it didn’t matter if they were pregnant,” Cameron said. “And pregnant women are more capable of being a lot more athletic than we, as a culture, acknowledge. I thought, ‘Let’s take the real boundaries off.’ To me, it was the last bastion that you don’t see. Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel — all these other amazing women come up, but they’re not moms and they’re not pregnant while they’re fighting evil.”
“Avatar: The Way of Water” opens in cinemas worldwide December 16.