With Avengers: Endgame passing Avatar to become the highest grossing movie of all time, I’ve recently gotten into a lot of heated debates with my friends as to why I think Avatar is more deserving of #1.
So I’m going to tell you — in a more calm manner than I do my friends — why I think Avatar is still Number 1.
Avatar Revolutionized Film-Making
The first thing we can’t ignore is that Avatar pushed new boundaries for film-making when it came out. Avatar revolutionized the visual effects industry with its ground-breaking CGI…which still looks amazing 10 years later.
Don’t get me wrong — if you know what to look for, you can easily spot where they took shortcuts with the effects. For example, how several of the wildlife creatures are sleek and black…meaning they didn’t have to render a lot of texture on the skin. But all of it still looks spectacular.
With Avengers: Endgame, while the CGI is on a technical level better than Avatar, doesn’t push it to the next level, and still looks on par for Avatar.
If you put these two movies side by side, it would be hard to tell whose CGI is better.
Better Characters? Or Just More of Them?
Now let’s talk about the characters. It’s been a joke for a while now that people can’t name a single character from Avatar, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have good characters. The actors give great performances to bring them to life, and you feel genuinely sad when someone dies.
Now of course Avengers: Endgame has superb characters: that much can’t be denied, but the main reason we feel so bad when someone dies in Endgame is because we have seen these characters on screen for quite some time. Endgame wasn’t just a one and done, it built up over 20+ films. Avatar had to build its characters in one go. And this leads nicely into my next point…
Avengers: Endgame didn’t come out of the blue with Marvel expecting it to flop. It came out a hit from the beginning. Book-ending 11 years worth of movies Endgame had so many people behind it already. Avatar had Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel come out a week after it, because Fox thought Avatar would flop. Not even Fox backed up Avatar.
And one small extra point: both of these movies came out a second time with additional features in the movie theaters. But generally everyone agrees that Avengers: Endgame extra content sucked, while Avatar came out with essentially a Directors Cut of the film, which just made it better.
The World Building is Unmatched in Avatar, Comparatively
Now my favorite part: the world building. The world building on Avatar is done extremely well. Watching the movie, you learn about these alien creatures, what happened to Earth, how the tribe works, how their lives work, and so much more.
In Avengers: Endgame, while yes, there is some world building done through the characters, at the end of the day it’s Earth, it’s New York. You understand it’s being destroyed, but if you want to know what happens after that — and to get more of the world building you have to turn to other Marvel associated content.
For example: you don’t know what happened to clean up New York in 2012 unless you watch a special they released, shortly after the original Avengers film. In Avatar, once the tree is destroyed you see the aftermath; you see where the Na’vi go to hide; you see what happens. There are some questions left unanswered, but at least I only have to wait until 2021 to get some answers, where as with Marvel I have to watch every TV show they have to figure it out. [Editor’s note: the TV shows are optional, you know — you don’t even need to see Agents of SHIELD, unless you’re a huge Agent Coulson fan…]
What About…the Plot? And the Villains?
And, of course I have to bring up the last point I hear all the time…the plot. I constantly hear Avatar’s plot is basic and boring. Which I don’t understand; both movies basically have the same plot.
It’s just that in one, the bad guy is greedy and want to destroy nature to get to minerals to fill his greed…and in the other you have the villain who wants to control the population, and kills half of the living organisms in his way. Both of these villains are the same. Both are so blinded by their own ways that they wreck everything else in their way.
And besides that, it’s your standard good vs. bad scenario. It’s nothing new, but when you watch these movies you get so invested in what’s going on. As far as I’m concerned, the plots follow the same beats, just like every other movie ever.
Really. Both are Winners.
Listen, at the end of the day both of these movies are fantastic, and both have their flaws. But you can’t deny the impact and influence Avatar has had on movies.
Everything I said just either agreed with one person or pissed off another; there’s nothing I can do about that. But I do invite everyone to comment below with your counter arguments, or even just your thoughts.
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My name is Nick and I got an undying love for movies and the process of making them. I love horror, comedy, action, and all movies in between. If you have any questions you can reach me @LightCameraNick on twitter.