aka: James Camerons Avatar
"This is why we're here. Because this little gray rock sells for $20 million a kilo. That's the only reason. This is what pays for the whole party, and it's what pays for your science. Those savages are threatening our whole operation. We're on the brink of war and you're supposed to be finding me a diplomatic solution. So use what you've got, and get me some results."Avatar
, setting up the entire film and its Aesop
in a single paragraph.
is a 2009 Science Fiction
film directed by James Cameron
The film takes place in a future where Earth is a polluted Crapsack World
, though the story itself unfolds on Pandora, a large moon of the planet Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri system. It has lots of Unobtainium
(seriously, that's what it's called
) which the human Resources Development Administration
is mining, but in order to get at the richest source of it, they need to relocate a clan of the native population; ten-foot-tall, blue Humanoid Aliens
called the Na'vi who live in the forests.
A paraplegic former U.S. Marine named Jake Sully is given a remotely-controlled Na'vi body called an "avatar" in order to communicate with the Na'vi and gain their trust, but the resident General Ripper
has other ideas and wants to remove the Na'vi by force
. Jake ends up torn between his human superiors with the promise of getting his real legs back and the Na'vi who wish to preserve their forests and their way of life, made harder by his growing romance with Neytiri, The Chief's Daughter
James Cameron first got the idea for Avatar
in The Nineties
(before several of the films it's accused of copying were created) and wrote an 80-page scriptment for it, but he shelved the project because he felt that the special effects technology at the time was insufficient for portraying Pandora and its inhabitants adequately, particularly in regards to translating actors' faces to CGI. Thus, he spent the time between Titanic
creating smaller products as he developed these technologies and amassed a large budget for the movie.
The film is also notable for using using a form of stereoscopic 3D
for filming. The film's financial success led to a surge in interest for 3D films
. Cameron has announced that two or more sequels are planned, possibly involving exploration of Pandora's oceans and the other moons.
If you're looking for the film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender
, please go here
This film provides examples of:
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- 3D Movie: Avatar's success fuelled an emerging trend of releasing theatrical films in 3D.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: The purpose of the Avatar project was to improve relations with the Na'vi by having the ambassadors who look like the Na'vi.
- Alien Invasion: By humans, naturally.
- All There in the Manual: With dashes of All There in the Script, All There In The Interview, and All There In The Book. Any information that could possibly help explain why humans are there, what the Unobtainium actually does, or other such information was put in an incredibly detailed encyclopaedia on the Internet.
- Always a Bigger Fish: On Jake's first excursion into the Pandoran forest, a massive titanothere charges at him. Grace tells him to hold his ground. When it halts and then retreats, Jake is exultant, not realizing that the reason for its fear is the even bigger and nastier Thanator creeping up behind him. This time, Grace tells him to run...
- Analogy Backfire: When Jake asks why Neytiri saved him from danger despite perceiving said danger as being Jake's own fault:
Neytiri: You have a strong heart. No fear. But stupid! Ignorant like a child!
Sully: Well, if I'm like a child, then maybe you should teach me.
- Animal Wrongs Group: PETA's at it again in the backstory. In fact, RDA mucking around on Pandora was not popular at all, thanks to ads put out by PETA... until someone revealed that the emaciated Na'vi in the commercials PETA put out was a human with prosthetics. This is what caused the whole "RDA gets mining rights" fiasco and people unaware of Selfridge being an ass to Na'vi, and presumably was a holdover from the first draft (RDA was being monitored by an inspector as a result of charges of abuse, but he was bribed).
- Armies Are Evil
- Art Major Physics: Averted. Per the Avatar technical companion website Pandorapedia, the starship Venture Star combines beamed light sail propulsion for the outbound flight and a fusion/antimatter hybrid drive to decelerate at Alpha Centauri. Yes, those are some of the leading ideas for interstellar flight that don't involve new science.
- Artificial Gravity: Venture Star has a pair of centrifuge modules which house the crews.
- Ass in Ambassador: Jake clearly couldn't care less about the Na'vi or their culture, at least until he falls in love.
- As You Know: "This is why we're here. Unobtainium. Because this little gray rock sells for 20 million a kilo."
- Audience Surrogate: Jake comes across as your average red-blooded American guy... and ends up with all the wish-fulfillment that guy could ever want.
- Award Bait Song: The theme song "I See You", composed by James Horner and performed by Leona Lewis was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2010.
- Badass Bookworm: Norm. He punches a merc on the face, suits up and fights in his avatar, and when his avatar gets killed, he grabs a rifle and proceeds to kick even more ass
- Becoming the Mask: The main character even remarks at one point that the situation had become reversed - "out there was reality, and in here [in his human body] was the dream." At the end of the movie, he undergoes a ceremony that permanently puts him in the avatar body, and he leaves his old human body to die in the toxic atmosphere.
- Big Bad: Selfidge takes this role at first before it is usurped by Quaritch.
- Bigger Bad: The RDA
- Bioluminescence Is Cool: Taken Up to Eleven; every piece of plant life responds to touch with bioluminescent bloom.
- Bittersweet Ending: Sure, the RDA has left, but a lot of Humans are dead. The Omatikaya are homeless and lost at least some of their members in the fight as well. An EU book makes it clear Earth was relying on exporting some of Pandora's flora to help clean up the damage that's been done to Earth, and a recent interview with the director confirms humanity *will be* returning to Pandora eventually.
- Body Paint: Jake is covered in this during his initiation ceremony, and almost all Na'vi use warpaint during the Final Battle. Also, Played for Laughs with Trudy and her gunship. Possibly sensible on their part, as it provided a way to quickly say "this one is not a target". (It would equally quickly say "this one IS a target" to the enemy, but as a high-tech force they have Identify-Friend-Or-Foe transponders anyway.)
- Boldly Coming: Jake is sent out as a spy/diplomat. After three months, he's mated to Neytiri.
- Born in the Saddle: The "Horse Clans of the Plain" who provide the initial cavalry charge in the Final Battle seem to be so.
- The extended edition DVD/Blu-Ray has an additional audio track with "all objectionable language removed".
- Promotional standees for Avatar add a rear panel to Jake's Avatar loincloth (wherein in the actual movie there is merely a woven thong up the back).
- Brown Note: Several people walked out with motion sickness from watching it in 3D, and one man died, apparently from over-excitement. As might have been expected, the film prompted many people Longing for Fictionland, although most mentions of this were rather sensationalist, to say the least.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": There are several cretures which have Earthlike equivalents — horses, humanoids, and titanotheres. Many of the land critters also have an extra pair of legs, a few also having an extra pair of eyes, and for most, breathing is performed through operculum-like openings rather than the nose and mouth.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Humans have forgone the smeerp route and given the animals names compliant with the earth creatures they resemble — dire horses, hammerhead titanotheres, viperwolves, etc. The Na'vi have their own names for them, as would be expected.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted. Space travel is Slower Than Light, and so witheringly expensive that absolutely nothing that can be made or synthesized on Pandora is brought from Earth — and per Word of God, personnel who develop medical problems that cannot be treated on Pandora are put to sleep.
- Category Traitor: When Jake leads turns against Quaritch, he gets accused of "betraying his species".
- Chekhov's Armoury: Eytukan's bow, the 'angtsik (titanotheres), the neural network itself, toruk, breaking your fall with leaves, and the fact that it's mentioned in passing as being a mobile link station]].
- Chewing the Scenery: Neytiri. "EYWA HAS HEARD YOOOOUUUUU!!!!!"
- Close on Title
- Colonel Badass: At one point Quaritch charges outside (the atmosphere on Pandora is largely inhospitable to humans) to unload a full clip at the deserters, then, after his assistant has shown up, slips on his breathing mask.
- Convenient Cranny: When Jake flees from the creature near the beginning of the film he ends up ducking in the root system of a tree, but his hiding place is not that effective; the beast still manages to claw at him fairly decently.
- Cool Airship: The C-21 Dragon Gunship. Also doubles as an Awesome Personnel Carrier, ferrying a squad of AMP suits into battle.
- Cool Starship: The ISV Venture Star.
- Crapsack World: Earth in-universe. Wars, terrorism, and accidents kill many people every day, the entire planet's landmass and its moon are covered in immense, massively polluted cities where twenty billion people live in unbelievably crowded and depressing conditions, the oceans have half the animal life they used to have and are used for farming spirulina for food. It is said that the people on Earth in the original script are greyish and sickly due to their diet of cheap carbohydrates and synthetic proteins, and that the atmosphere is so polluted the exopacks used on Pandora are also necessary for human life on Earth. In the movie, there's the human-created Hell's Gate, which is a fittingly named blotch of strip mines and military bases on the otherwise natural and beautiful world of Pandora.
- Cyberpunk / City Noir: The many images of Earth in the Avatar universe show smoggy and futuristic landscapes with countless lights, city streets flowing with people, entire "skies" of advertisements serving as ceilings for lower levels in the cities, elevated trains and immense sky-scrapers, and even a Hive-city structure covered in advertisement screens that has an uncanny resemblance to the Hometree. The air pollution has gotten to the point that everybody has to wear a dust mask outside on the streets, and the few unlucky without them (Jake Sully included) look quite grim. Not unlike other cyberpunk settings, large corporate bodies like the RDA are incredibly powerful and their presence seen everywhere. Computer technology is also shown to have progressed greatly in the movie, with interactive holograms and an incredible interface which allows for easy blueprint making and construction as long as the required materials are present, and of course, there are advertisement screens and lights everywhere.
- Contemplate Our Navels: "When I was lying there in the VA hospital, with a big hole blown through the middle of my life, I started having these dreams of flying. Sooner or later though, you always have to wake up..."
- Data Pad: Transparent ones onto which info can be dragged from computer terminals.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Used for a throwaway joke near the end of Jake's first day Avatar piloting, when he inspects his queue. Grace admonishes him not to play with it or he'll go blind (Though the queue isn't actually use for reproduction).
- Deadpan Snarker: Various characters are candidates for this, but Grace and Jake are probably the most apparent early in the film.
Grace: Yeah, yeah, I know who you are and I donít need you. I need your brother. You know, the PhD who trained for 3 years for this mission?
Jake: Heís dead. I know itís a big inconvenience for everyone.
- Deus ex Machina: The humans have all but easily laid waste to the combined Na'vi forces. What happens next? Well it seems that their god pulls a more or less literal example by sending all of the wildlife on Pandora to attack the humans. The Foreshadowing makes this example's status as a straight-up Deus ex Machina debatable, though.
- Dramatically Missing the Point:
- Selfridge completely misses the point when Grace tries to explain to him how the Na'vi use trees to communicate...
Dr. Grace Augustine: What we think we know — is that there's some kind of electrochemical communication between the roots of the trees. Like the synapses between neurons. Each tree has ten to the fourth connections to the trees around it, and there are ten to the twelfth trees on Pandora...
Selfridge: That's a lot, I'm guessing.
Dr. Grace Augustine: That's more connections than the human brain. You get it? It's a network — a global network. And the Na'vi can access it — they can upload and download data — memories — at sites like the one you just destroyed.
Selfridge: What the HELL have you people been smoking out there? They're just goddamn trees!
- Jake completely misses the point when first introduced to Eytukan.
Jake: What's he saying?
Neytiri: My father is deciding whether to kill you.
Jake: Your father... It's nice to meet you, sir! (cue every weapon getting aimed at Jake's throat)
- Enhance Button: Used when Jake smashes the camera on the bulldozer thing. Less egregious than most examples, as it doesn't actually enhance the image very much, and mostly just gets rid of motion blurring. It also helps that there's hardly any distance between the camera and Jake.
- Epic Movie: More than 10 years in the making. Astronomical budget. The technology used in the making of the film didn't EXIST until after production had started! A lot of CG. Archetypal plot. Yeah, baby, that's pure unadulterated Hollywood. It's now officially the Epic Movie, having overtaken Titanic in the global box office. On February 1, 2010, 45 days after release, the film had passed the two billion dollar mark.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Pretty much a given with a world like Pandora... for the marines, anyway.
- Evil Counterpart: In a sense, the AMP suits are these to the eponymous Avatars. Both are high-tech means of exploring Pandora while being protected from its hostile environment; both are connected to a human body and imitate either its movements (AMP interface) or thoughts (Avatar mindlink); and both are humanoid in form. Except Avatars are intended to be used for peaceful contact with the Na'vi, while the AMPs are a weapon, and weapons bring death and destruction.
- Elves VS Dwarves: Na'vi vs. Humans.
- Exaggerated Trope: The whole Dances with Wolves/vTheLastSamurai plotline is cranked Up to Eleven, and, thanks to Applied Phlebotinum, the protagonist not only goes to live with the natives and adopts their culture and identity — he bodily becomes one of them. Word of God states this was kinda intentional.
- Expanded Universe: James Cameron wants to flesh out the universe of Avatar in several books and even other films. The official wiki is a great example.
- Exposed Extraterrestrials: Lampshaded by Jake when he first walks naked into the village; he even uncomfortably fiddles with his exposed behind.
- Eye Awaken: Avatar loves this one, use multiple times, from the opening shot to once Jake is able to reoccupy his Avatar body after the destruction of Hometree, to the very last shot of the movie.
- Fantastic Aesop: Live in harmony with nature. On a planet where there is apparently next to no disease and a global sentient mind.
- Fantastic Racism: The film is a perfect example of this. The interactions between the alien Na'vi and the humans parrallels indigenous cultures meeting Western explorers and colonists. Most humans see the Na'vi as primitive savages to be exploited for their land's natural resources, while a few scientists genuinely want to communicate with and study them. The Na'vi are distrustful toward the humans, whom they see as greedy invaders and culturally inferior barbarians.
- Fantastic Romance: Made possible by the eponymous "Avatar" project.
- Fearsome Foot: There's a shot of Quaritch's boots as he walks up to give his briefing to the new arrivals.
- Fetal Position Rebirth: Whenever the Tree of Souls is being asked to permanently transfer a human into their Avatar body, both the human and Avatar bodies are in this position. On the other hand, there otherwise wouldn't be place for both bodies, with the Na'vi being almost twice a human's height.
- Follow the Leader: Not necessarily in terms of style or plot (hasn't really been enough time for that yet), but a number of movies that had been filmed in 2D were hastily retrofitted with an additional dimension in the wake of the Avatar phenomenon (including Cameron's own Titanic).
- Gaia's Lament: Earth has little to no plant or animal life left, warfare and terrorism grip the populace and resources are running out, the entire human race lives in massive polluted cities, the moon's darkside has even been fully developed, most food has been reduced to artificially processed algae, and the exopacks are necessary for human life.
- Giving Them the Strip: Jake's backpack is grabbed by the Thanator, so he unfastens its straps to escape.
- God Is Good: The neural network that spans Pandora is sentient and the way the Na'vi regard it is often compared to a Goddess. In the climatic battle, Pandora's wildlife wipe out the invading RDA forces thanks to this awareness.
- Going Native: Thanks to Chekhov's moss-mediated brain transfer technology.
- Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: The Na'vi have enormous eyes, the Avatars' eyes are smaller but still much larger than a human's.
- Green Aesop: The whole point—to the point where every other story with a Green Aesop is compared to it.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe. Available in Blue! (Neytiri flavored.)
- Heel-Face Turn: Played completely straight with Jake and Trudy, averted in the theatrical release of the movie, but nearly played straight for Selfridge as the screenplay and deleted scenes both confirm that he initially opposes military action against the Na'vi and attempts to stop the final attack against the Tree of Souls, but is usurped by Quaritch, and locked in his command centre where he can only watch helplessly as Quaritch carries out his Shock and Awe Campaign.
- Heel Realization: Parker is implied to go through one of these during the final attack on the Na'vi.
- Hindu Mythology: The name Avatar comes straight out of Hindu mythology, where it is often used in the context of a god "descending" into human form. Coincidentally, the two most famous Avatars in Hinduism are usually depicted with blue skin.
- How to Invade an Alien Planet: Followed as best the RDA can for the most part. However Phase One Step Seven is ignored, as is Phase Two, step twelve. Phase three step two is inadvisable when the people you are fighting are allied with a group of brilliant scientists.
- Hugh Mann: Averted - the Na'vi are well aware that the avatars are not actual Na'vi and are remotely controlled by humans.
- Humanity Is Insane/Humans Are Morons: Seems to be a common opinion of humans among the Na'vi. During his first encounter with the natives, Jake learns that he is "stupid like baby" and must be "cured" of his "insanity", although this refers to not Seeing rather than generally being a human.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters/Humans Are (incredibly) Flawed: Played with. The RDA itself and its security force are this trope, driven by greed, blissful disregard for nature and a healthy dose of Fantastic Racism. The scientists, however, are openly ashamed of and disgusted by their actions, respect Na'vi culture and try to establish some sort of compromise. Note that the scientists care more partly because they understand better. To a lot of the humans, the Na'vi connection to the trees seems mostly sentimental, and a lot of them dismiss the idea of using those trees to communicate as "tree-hugging nonsense", even when a scientist explains explicitly how it works.
- Identical Stranger: Stephen Lang, Colonel Quaritch's actor, is set to appear in major roles in all of the movies, under different roles.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The film is referred to as James Cameron's Avatar by third parties (probably to avoid confusion with the other Avatar), though this is rare for the film itself.
- Infant Immortality: Seemingly averted. After the destruction of Hometree, a Na'vi mother is seen crying over a limp child being carried by an older male. The intensity of her emotions would suggest that he was not merely unconscious. Although we don't actually see it happen, Grace's school was shot up by RDA goons. In the extended edition, she reveals to Jake that Neytiri's sister and some other children were killed during this incident.
- In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: The exopacks show a lot more face than your typical oxygen mask, although technically they aren't oxygen masks, they are more like air filters/gas masks — the oxygen comes directly from Pandora's atmosphere. Also it makes sense to make the faces in the mask more visibles so that one can check anothers face for signs problems, or communicate without sound.
- Ironic Echo:
- Grace mentions that she would die for a chance to have access to the Tree of Souls so she could take samples. After being mortally wounded, she is brought to the Tree of Souls in an attempt to use it to save her life. Despite being in too much pain to move, she still manages to express her desire to take samples.
- Also the various uses of "time to"/"have to wake up" throughout the film in concurrence with the film's real world/dream state theme.
Trudy: Damn, I was hoping for a plan that didn't involve martyrdom.
Grace: What are you gonna do, shoot me?
Quaritch: Oh, I can do that.
Jake: One life ends, another begins.
Jake: Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here's the dream
Jake: Sooner or later, you always gotta wake up.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grace comes across as condescending and rude earlier on in the film, but later on is shown to be more compassionate and understanding than most other human characters.
- Jungle Opera: A rare latter-day example, and IN SPACE!
- Lens Flare, and yes, they're 3D.
- Licensed Pinball Table: Released in 2010, with custom speech by Stephen Lang. Click here for details.
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: One of the things Jake loves about his avatar body is that it is whole. When he first "wakes up" in it, there is focus on his exploring new things he can do, like running and jumping.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Unlike most, this one takes the form of a Theatrical 3D Re-Release. There is also the later collector's edition, plus an exclusive one limited to 1000 copies.
- Loincloth: All the Na'vi.
- Love Across Battlelines: The protagonist is a human soldier falling in love with a warrior of the clan he's hired to defend the evil megacorporation against.
- Ludd Was Right: Averted. The message is that technology is neutral, it's how you use it that matters.
- Magical Native American: Averted. The game veers into this at times thoughnote .
- Major Injury Underreaction:
- Grace just goes "this is gonna ruin my whole day" after being shot. For bonus points, the only time she goes "ouch" after that is from a syringe, and it's rather flat. On the other hand, receiving such an injury can actually have this effect as the body dumps a load of adrenaline into the system to try and cope, plus the potential for shock.
- At one point, Colonel Quartich ignores that he is on fire. He triages the problem of first and second degree burns to his arm to focus on a complex bailout from a crashing aircraft. Then he puts the fire out.
- The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: The amazingly realistic CGI used in this film, plus the film's overall budget, required a hell of a lot of corporate finance. And the themes of the film are arguably somewhat anti-corporate. Fox wanted James Cameron to reduce the prominence of the message. He refused, and they made it anyway.
- Manly Tears: In the original script when Jake first gets to use the legs of his avatar body, he cries.
- Mega Corp.: The RDA, which is stated to be better funded than most world governments.
- Meaningful Name:
- Unobtainium. The humans don't get much of it. This is an in-joke relating to something that has incredible properties. See Unobtainium.
- Jake, or Jacob, is the name of one of the great Patriarchs of The Bible; his brother Thomas' name means simply "the twin." Grace Augustine is named after both a heavenly gift and the great Doctor of the church... it goes on.
- Some people think Eywa sounds like Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God.
- Mineral Macguffin: Obviously, this is Unobtainium again. Despite the backstory provided, we only see one TINY piece of it twice during the movie, which is somewhat justified - even a sliver of it is enormously valuable.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Pretty damn hard, as James Cameron personally made sure that every aspect of his universe was plausible at the very least. Even seemingly implausible aspects such as floating mountains are explainable by the nature of superconductors (such as unobtanium) to repel magnetic fields (such as the abnormally intense planetary magnetic field of Pandora.)
- Motherly Scientist: Dr. Grace comes to fit this role, becoming a bit of a mother figure for the protagonist and caring for the natives. In the extended cut, she even mentions that Na'vi children she taught at her school called her "mother".
- My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Quite literally. Because Tom Sully's Avatar was created to work with his DNA, when he is killed, only his identical twin brother, Jake, can operate the Avatar. So he does.
- Myself My Avatar: The eponymous Avatars.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jake Sully provides all the intel that the RDA needs to successfully take down Hometree. Not only that but he completely neglects to mention that the marines are going to try to bulldoze their land. He goes so far as to sleep with Neytiri before it was scheduled to happen.
- Noble Savage: The Na'vi way of life is depicted in the film as far nobler than anything on Earth. They have a solid community, thank their prey, and are (somewhat) friendly to the strange sky people.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Averted, as the Na'vi are mammals. James Cameron did say they weren't in one very early interview, but also got Jake's name wrong and called Pandora a planet, so was clearly discussing something much earlier in the development process than the finished universe.
- Not What I Signed On For: When Trudy refuses to participate in the destruction of the Na'vi home.
"Screw this. I didn't sign up for this shit!"
Pandora and the wildlife
- Alien Sky: Pandora is one of the moons of a gas giant named Polyphemus, so we are treated to many shots of said planet in the sky. Other moons are also visible.
- All There in the Manual: The video game has additional information on the characters, species, etc. that doesn't appear in the movie. Same thing with an independent published guide giving backstory to the creatures, plants, technology, and Na'vi. Also an online encyclopedia. There is an actual manual on the Na'vi in the movie, courtesy of Dr. Grace.
- Bond Creatures: The Na'vi have a rite of passage where they must sneak into the aviaries of the banshee and bond with one of them. They can do something similar with the direhorse, but with multiple people, as they do not bond with a person for life like with the banshee.
- Big Damn Heroes: By way of Deus ex Machina.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit":
- One of the more frequently-seen Pandoran animals has four eyes, six legs, hairless blue skin, a snout like an anteater, and nostrils in its chest. They call it a direhorse. Fair enough, it is kind of like a horse, and it acts an awful lot like a horse, but still... No one else looked at those horses and thought Odin's eight-legged steed, Sleipnir?
- The name 'Direhorse' was given by humans to the creatures known by the Na'vi as Pa'li — much in the way the Ikran were given the name 'Banshees' and the Toruk was given the name 'Great Leonopteryx'. Humans aren't very original with names for alien creatures in THIS universe, it seems.
- Color Contrast: It emphasizes the purple part of the green/purple contrast a lot more than most forest settings.
- Con Lang: The Na'vi language.
- Death World: Pandora, pretty much every variety all at once.
- Deus ex Machina: Done with an actual Deus in the climax of the movie. The Na'vi are starting to get hammered by the forces of humanity, but then, thanks to Jake having asked help from their tree goddess thing earlier, a herd of titanotheres and banshee come out of nowhere and rush the humans, destroying almost all of themnote .
- Expansion Pack World: There are other moons around Polyphemus. Possibly with life on them. Cameron has announced that after the Avatar sequels, which will be focused on Pandora, there may be others exploring other moons and planets in the Alpha Centauri system — including planets orbiting Alpha Centauri B.
- Fertile Feet: Reconstructed. Nothing grows as a result of Na'vi passage, but any plants or ground coverings they interact with react with bioluminesce. Mainly just for Rule of Cool and Scenery Porn.
- Floating Continent: In fact, this is the reason why humans are there. There's also the Hallelujah Mountains. Justified as Superconductors, like the Unobtainium in the Hallelujah Mountians do float in magnetic fields such as the flux vortex.
- Genius Loci: The entire moon, shown both when the animals suddenly gain enough intelligence and work together to massacre the Marine strike force, and in Jake's memory transfer.
- Giant Flyer: Pandora is full of these. Even an ikran is HUGE compared to a human.
- Gondor Calls for Aid:
- You may think Jake appealing to Eywa for help against the humans' final assault to be cheesy or perhaps Narm. And then you see the Na'vi getting their asses handed to them. And then you see every animal and its mother ripping the assault force a new one. Good planning indeed.
- A more traditional version of the trope is the "Toruk Makto unites the clans" montage.
- Handy Feet: Na'vi have them, at least those who are not serving as avatars to humans anyway.
- Heavyworlder: Inverted. Much of the reason the 10 foot tall humanoid Na'vi can live very well on Pandora is because of the 20% weaker gravity putting far less strain on their bodies. While humans are stronger on Pandora than Earth thanks to decreased gravity, they are still weaker than native animals both proportionally and totally. The Colonel mentions the need for constant exercise to prevent muscle atrophy.
- Heli Critter: The fan lizard.
- Hive Queen: Eywa, an overmind-like, super-intelligent being made of alien trees, which is linked to most advanced life forms on Pandora and has a form of internet (i.e. instant global communication) built of its roots and seeds.
- Horse of a Different Color: It's blue. And has six legs.
- Hungry Jungle: This is how Colonel Miles Quaritch describes Pandora's jungles to Jake when he first meets him. This is also how Pandora's jungles are initially depicted when Jake finds himself stranded in them during one of his first few nights on the moon.
- Immune to Bullets: The Hammerhead Titanotheres. Claimed to be so by Dr. Grace Augustine and how! Despite not being fully armored all-over these beasties can withstand explosive, armour-piercing and incendiary 30mm GAU rounds without a hitch. Shooting thanators isn't very productive either, not because they're armored, but because they get seriously annoyed by it and take your gun away from you.
- Jungle Japes: The beautiful and exotic rainforests of Pandora where the majority of the film takes place.
- The Lifestream: Kinda played with. Eywa acts as this, kinda. It doesn't happen automatically, they Brain Upload just before they die.
- Meaningful Name: Before she opened the box, Pandora was created to be the perfect woman, and her name literally means "All-Gifted".
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
- The thanator. "Thanatos" is the Greek word for "death," and also the name of its personification. It's very appropriate in this case.
- Then there's the Toruk, which in Na'vi means "Last Shadow".
- No Biochemical Barriers: Averted and done straight. The air is unbreathable to humans thanks to its concentration of CO2 and H2S, causing a coma in a matter of seconds, and death in minutes. Pandoran plants are loaded to the brim with toxins, as far as humans are concerned. However the namesake Avatars are created by the improbable working combination of human and Na'vi DNA. Which is another can of worms in itself, because the Na'vi, according to Pandorapedia, do not have DNA. There's a mention of NV Transcriptase, which had been done science to in order to interact with human DNA.
- Negative Space Wedgie: the 'flux vortex' of the moon's strong magnetic field makes a lot of instruments, such as mapping and targeting systems, completely useless. Things like thermal scans, communications, and motion sensors still work, though they get staticy.
- Ominous Fog: The otherwise scenery pornographic Pandora gets this trait once Hometree is destroyed, since the ashes contribute to the fog.
- One-Product Planet: Pandora may appear to be this as it is valued for its Unobtainium, but the background mentions genetic development from plants on Pandora. Also, one of the few examples of this trope that uses Slower-Than-Light travel.
- Only The Chosen May Ride: The Ikran are dragon-like creatures that the Na'vi use as mounts. Every Ikran chooses its own master, and only then if the one they choose can best them in combat and tame them.
- Worth special mention is Toruk Makto, who is said to be untameable by even the strongest of Na'vi. Jake manages to do so.
- Planetary Romance: It's set on a detailed alien world with a mostly primitive setting involving frequent use of melee weapons and seemingly magical abilities with vague scientific explanations. James Cameron even stated that he was heavily inspired by John Carter of Mars, the first major planetary romance ever written. One might argue that the film is a Reconstruction of (or a Genre Throwback to) this century-old genre, updating and re-imagining many tropes characteristic of it.
- Psychic Link: The link between avatars and their operators, enabled by the link bed.
- Rock of Limitless Water: The floating islands have waterfalls constantly flowing from out of them, despite not having a source for such water. In this case, there is a somewhat logical reason given for the phenomenon that does not quite justify the amount of water created this way.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Averted. Despite being 10 foot tall CGI figures, the Na'vi are amazingly humanlike in their appearance, especially compared with the other wildlife shown on Pandora. This was done so that the audience could identify with them more easily. Lampshaded and discussed in extra material - a scientist notes that, despite looking and acting very human, we have more in common with garden snails than with them.
- Savage Piercings: One clan of Na'vi wear nose bones.
- Second-Hand Storytelling: We follow Jake Sully's story practically minute-by-minute until he begins to gather the tribes, when we just get narration.
- Scenery Gorn: When hometree is destroyed.
- Scenery Porn: Arguably the most visually stunning movie ever created.
- Shadow of Impending Doom: The Na'vi name for the Great Leonopteryx, a flying Apex predator, is Toruk, which translates to "Last Shadow". Toruk's favoured method of attack is to dive with the sun behind it so by the time you see its shadow fall on you, it is often already too late.
- Sickly Green Glow: Inverted. Almost all of the plants and animals have some form of bioluminescence — even the Na'vi have spots on their face and body — usually in the green-blue hues, some of which could be considered sickly in other settings. In this one? Try "gorgeous."
- Single-Biome Planet:
- Fully averted in the background material (there is no land mass at either of the poles, so the icecaps are floating with no fixed features), and partly averted in the movie itself, but there's never a location visited where temperatures look like they could drop below freezing (with the POSSIBLE exception of the plains).
- The sequel will feature Pandora's oceans, which fits with Cameron's obsession with the ocean.
- Square/Cube Law: The lighter gravity of Pandora partly accounts for the huge bodies (though not the great strength) of the Na'vi, Avatars, and wildlife (although the AMP suits may seem to stretch the suspension of disbelief note ).
- Starfish Aliens:
- The creatures of Pandora were supposed to be like this, and they even got Wayne freakin' Barlowe and Neville Page to help out. But eventually they had to tone it down because the creatures looked "too alien". At one point the banshee and Leonopteryx looked like giant flying manta rays. This was part of an overall theme change, as the Na'vi concept art at the time had a reptilian look, which is where all the confusion about their being mammals originated from thanks to out-of-date information.
- Pretty much all life on Pandora has six limbs, four eyes, and breathes through an operculum on the chest... except the Na'vi, Prolemuris (a clear evolutionary link intended to show the reasoning behind it), and ikran.
- Though there are still some minor creatures in film that are definitely Starfish Aliens, many of the flora and fauna were inspired by deep sea Earth creatures and plants.
- The creatures on Pandora, while looking vertebrate-y, are also shown to breathe through an operculum (e.g. ikran, toruk and pa'li).
- Super-Persistent Predator: The thanator scene most obviously, but from the sound of things, pretty much every single piece of wildlife on Pandora. May be justified, if everything is this vicious, it may be necessary just to land a meal.
- Tree Top Town: Hometree appears to play this trope straight, except it just consists of one huge tree instead of several.
- Universe Bible: 350 pages of alien language (Speak Na'vi), plants and wildlife taxonomy, a scale structure for the alien music, Pandora's physical properties etc. etc.
- Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Every creature on Pandora, except the Na'vi, ikran and stingbats. Word of God explains that this is due to the fact that they evolved from the monkey-like Prolemuris, which as we see in the film has six limbs — but two of those are two arms that bifurcate into four forearms (each with a two-fingered hand as opposed to the Na'vi four-fingered hand). These forearms fused into two by the time the Na'vi had evolved, leaving them the only ones with four limbs.
- World Tree: Hometree, and especially the Tree of Souls.
- Wormsign: The Toruk is named Last shadow by the Na'vi for a reason.
Warfare, battles and events, armaments and related tropes