They called it “plagiarism”, but James Cameron drew “Avatar” back in 1976.

They called it “plagiarism”, but James Cameron drew “Avatar” back in 1976.

When Avatar hit theaters in 2009, many accused James Cameron of plagiarism.

The story of Jake Sully and the saving of the planet Pandora seems quite similar to the plot of “Pocahontas”, and in addition, it seems that Cameron has drawn full handfuls of well-known fictions of famous authors such as Stanislav Lemm and Isaac Asimov.

However, the director is categorical – the idea for “Avatar” was born even before that for “Titanic”.

Cameron explained to Variety that he had been thinking about such a film even before the legendary ship sank on screen in 1997 and made audiences cry. In fact, the project has been in his head since he was a child growing up in Ontario, Canada, surrounded by the wild nature of his homeland.

As a child, the director enjoyed wandering through the woods and taking diving courses as ways to explore the world around him. It was his experiences in the wild that led to the birth of the idea of ​​Pandora – a picturesque planet immersed in greenery and inhabited by creatures who value and protect their nature.

Photo: Getty Images

Avatar fans dressed as blue na’vi people

Thus, in 1995, two years before the premiere of “Titanic”, Cameron’s idea became clear and he wrote a script of 100 pages, in which he describes in detail what the strange planet looks like, what dialogues take place between the characters and what the overall plot is.

The script has been handed over to 20th Century Fox, but both the director and the company agree that they don’t yet have the technology to pull off the ambitious project.

The green light was given only in 2006, when Cameron expanded the script and introduced new characters and new details into the action.

The result was ready in 2009 when it took cinemas by storm, broke box office records and largely shaped the way 3D cinema looks to this day. However, many believe that Cameron did not write the plot himself and instead rewrote here and there and assembled Avatar.

However, Cameron is adamant that the film is his life’s work – far more significant than “Titanic”, “Terminator” and all the other productions he is behind.

Therefore, in 2012, he wrote an extensive 45-page affidavit in which he defended his thesis that Avatar was entirely his brainchild and the work of no one else. “I’ve been collecting the elements of the film my whole life,” Cameron says.

The craze for Cameron's film has even reached the airlines
Photo: Getty Images

The craze for Cameron’s film has even reached the airlines

In the statement, he recounts how, when he was in the 11th grade, he drew a sketch with a pen and titled it “Spring on the Planet Flora,” and that turned out to be the beginning of the concept of Pandora and its forests and jungles. In college, Cameron wrote a screenplay about a wheelchair-bound man who turns into a cyborg.

At the end of the 1970s, the director also wrote a story entitled “Xenogenesis”, which tells about a meeting of humans with alien species.

Even then, he imagines not only the first “Avatar”, but also already thinks about its sequels. At that time, he came up with the idea of ​​presenting nature as a separate living being that has its own emotions – this is how we see it in the final product.

In 2013, Cameron showed his posters from 1976, which showed the prototypes of the characters from “Avatar”.

Photo of a theme park that mimics the planet Pandora
Photo: Getty Images

Photo of a theme park that mimics the planet Pandora

In the mid-1970s, he worked as a poster artist and in his spare time drew what his fantasies looked like. In the images are the large blue hands of the Na’vi, the beautiful female creature of the blue race, and the people of our Earth.

These same drawings came to life on the big screen in 2009. In another poster, the director intended to depict glowing forests with rivers of light flowing through them. “I’m willing to spend millions of dollars to make these dreams come true,” Cameron told at the start of work on Avatar.

“Any idea I had – for a character, for a tree or for a robot – I always drew it, even if it took me a year and a half,” he adds.

At the moment, the director is simultaneously working on the second and third parts of “Avatar”. It is already known that the second film in the series will be called “The Nature of Water” and in the roles we will again see Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. They will be joined by Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel.

The premiere is scheduled for December 16, 2022.

“As a father of four, I thought about what the movie would look like if it was a family drama,” Cameron told of the second Avatar. That is why he describes the next parts of the production as a “family saga”, again entirely inspired by himself.

“We’ll see what happens to the warriors who jump off cliffs and take suicide missions when they have children,” Cameron said.