If you’re one of the millions of people who signed up to watch Multiverse of Madness this month, chances are that the hit Marvel flick was prefixed by the trailer for a certain film – Avatar: The Way of Water.

It’s been over a decade since the original stunned audiences the world over – bringing together a surprisingly deep worldbuilding concept, industry-leading visuals, and a bit of that old James Cameron magic. With the director infamous for taking insanely long amounts of time to fine-tune every minute detail of his films, its no wonder that Way of Water took so long to drop a teaser.

Even without considering the massive in-cinema viewcount, the teaser immediately destroyed any notion of Avatar being a dead franchise – the 97-second cinematic garnered a stunning 148M+ views, according to Disney and 20th Century Fox. This also naturally led to massive discussion on social media.

While there’s plenty of details and awesome cinematography to dissect, Twitter decided to hyperfixate – as it often does – on a piece of… wet rope?

Confused? Let’s ‘dive’ into things.

It’s All In The Details

Interestingly, this isn’t even the first time that James Cameron has directed a major extraterrestrial aquatic-themed film – 1989’s The Abyss tackled the themes of deep-sea aliens on Earth – winning a Visual Effects Oscar for its efforts.

33 years on, there’s a new group of people looking to scrutinize Cameron’s CGI team – and they’re all busy tweeting. It all started with a rather innocuous tweet screenshot, shared by writer Ben Mauk:

While it isn’t clear as to whether Mauk is being entirely sarcastic, it seems that he’s used the tweet as a way to smirk at how people impressed by film CGI can lose their shit over a piece of rope and water – both very easy things to simply shoot in real-life.

This inadvertently spiked a massive debate and joke-fest surrounding the scene in question – in which a Na’vi character rises from the ocean while riding a seaborne creature capable of flight. The first camp of fans raised their eyebrows – not finding too much impressive about the animated water within the scene, as a few others jumped to poor OP’s defense:

Others continued to debate the ‘artistic’ value of CGI,

While some simply sat back and dropped a few jokes:

All in all, James Cameron has been known to really push the bar when it comes to his films’ visuals – with Avatar being the prime example so far. So how impressive is the new film’s actual water and rope, looked at a bit more objectively?

One Twitter user brought up the supposedly ‘easier’ water-rendering capabilities of CGI and Cameron’s previous experience with Titanic – although this was quickly shot down.

The follow-up comment is 100% right here – the actual quote doesn’t mention Titanic, and rather praises the effects achieved with 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Amusingly enough, it turns out that the actual ‘CGI water’ in question here is likely real – although definetly with some serious CGI firepower bringing the whole package together. 

While Cameron’s army of visual technicians and artists have spent years perfecting the look, a very large portion of the film combines both practical and digital effects – using a rather strange water tank to get the job done.

Shooting out of L.A., the team used a combination of actual water, Titanic cinematographer Russell Carpenter’s talents, and a huge carpet of motion-capture balls to mimic the real-life movement of water. The result is a brilliant combination of both filmmaking techniques – allowing for the realism of actual water, but injected into a whole new alien world.

While there’s something to be said for CGI not having the mind blowing appeal it once did, Way of Water still promises some truly breathtaking, immersive visuals. Just take a look at these stills:

Avatar: The Way of Water is set to release on December 16, 2022 in cinemas worldwide.

(Featured Image Credits: 20th Century Studios)