It only took thirteen years, but the second installment of James Cameron’s Avatar series has finally debuted with Avatar:The Way of Water! 

In this riveting sequel, we return to Pandora to find the Forest Clan Na’vis are once again at war with The Sky People (Earthborn humans). Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) leads them, alongside his wife Neyteri, in raids that have hampered The Sky People’s settling of Pandora. In a drastic act, they create Na’vi Avatars of Col. Miles Quaritch and his fallen team of Marines, endowed with their memories; to take the fight directly to the Forest Clan Navis. Jake and Neyteri must band together with The Ocean Navis to not only protect their new way of life, but their four children, against an enemy determined to alter Pandora as a whole.

Jake Sully and Neyteri’s Family in Avatar: The Way of Water

avatar the way of water Jake sully family
Neytiri, Jake, and three of their children: Kiri, Neteyam, and Lo’ak. Tuk is visible in the background. Credit: 20th Century

Jake and Neyteri seemingly have enjoyed a peaceful life while The Sky People retreated to back to Earth; even creating a family. Their children–biological and adopted–consist of their birth children, Neteyam, Lo’ak, and Tuktirey (nicknamed Tuke), their adopted Na’vi daughter, Kiri, and Spider, their adopted human son. Their adopted children have surprising parentage that you will want to pay close attention to!

Their family dynamic is mixed with militarism due to their war, but each child possess skills and tenacity making them formidable in their own way. Whereas both Jake and Neyteri are protective parents; Jake takes on the tasks of being more protective and Neyteri, the voice of reason and heart of the family. Neteyam serves as the traditional older sibling tasked with more responsibility and expectations when it comes to his younger siblings. Lo’ak serves as “the one in every family,” but his larger role takes center stage in a coming of age storyline. Tuk is largely comic relief and a mascot of sorts, while Kiri and Spider respectively are adopted, but clearly seen as different by everyone around them.

Who are The Ocean Clan Navis in Avatar: The Way of Water?

The Ocean Clan avatar the way of water
The Ocean Clan

We forget there is a lot more to Pandora than the forests and the Na’vis living there. There are other clans of Na’vis who have unsurprisingly adapted to living in different environments and have become a different race, based on some physical traits. Herein comes The Ocean Clan! The Ocean Clan serve as salvation for Jake Sully and his family as they have to adapt to a new way of life.

Unlike the Forest Clan, they have adapted to life in the ocean, living on hundreds of islands there. Their culture resembles various  earthborn Pacific Islander cultures. They have adapted to the ocean so much that their pigment is a pale, aquamarine; their hands and feet are webbed, they can hold their breath for a long time, and their tales are larger and near fin-like.

talkun space whale avatar the way of water

Like their Forest counterparts they too can bond with marine life and are quite close to a species of what resemble a Pandoran whale, The Talkun. The Ocean Clan see them as extended family members, and are sentient and likely more intelligent than humans. The Talkun are also very valuable to humans for a less altruistic reason…

Avatar: The Way of Water and History

avatar the way of water

Large parts of Avatar: The Way of Water are hard to watch as these scenes remind us of the painful past man people of color endured at the hands of European colonization and imperialism.European colonization and imperialism. The Sky People clearly mirror Europeans from that age, desperate to escape their land which was lacking in space, resources, and rife with unjust laws.

The Na’vis are various indigenous people Africa, Asia, The Americas, and Australia that were either enslaved, subjugated, forced to assimilate, or were wiped out completely. Simultaneously, their lands were ransacked and exploited for raw goods and materials.

In a recent interview with UniladJames Cameron spoke on the historical contexts and comparisons of the film:

 “I think the important thing is to listen and to be sensitive to issues that people have.”

“Here’s my philosophy in general,” he explained. “The people who have been victimized historically are always right. It’s not up to me, speaking from a perspective of white privilege, if you will, to tell them that they’re wrong.

“I have to listen. I have to say, ‘Okay, if that’s what you’re feeling, that’s what you’re feeling.’ And it has validity. It’s pointless for me to say, ‘Well, that was never my intention.'”

Cameron went on to tell us how the sequel moves away from the ‘white saviour motif’, adding: “Jake is just a father, he’s part of the tribe, he’s much more submissive in a way.

“When he shows up to the Metkayina as a refugee and says ‘take us in’, he’s not running things. He doesn’t want to run things.”

Discussing the cultural appropriation critique, the filmmaker acknowledged the mistakes from the past and said: “We’re trying to create our own indigenous cultures, and see them and how they express themselves through their art, through their weaving, through their clothing, hairstyles, everything else.

“We try to draw from everything so we kind of average it out and we’re not extracting from any individual culture without their permission.

“But still, it’s a tricky, tricky thing, and there may be people that object.


Nevertheless, Avatar: The Way of Water is a family movie at its core and one you have to see. This truly beautiful film is rife with righteous fury, but should as a reminder of just how precious life is and just how interconnected we all really are.

Catch Avatar: The Way of Water in theaters everywhere this Friday!

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