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James Cameron blasts Marvel and DC for one-dimensional characters who ‘all act like they’re in college’

They are making movies incorrectly, according to him.

James Cameron
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

James Cameron joins the likes of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola as yet another Hollywood director who believes that despite Marvel and DC’s astronomical box office numbers, they make anything but quality films.

Cameron, who’s spent the last 13 years working on the second and third sequel to Avatar, kicked off the press tour for Avatar: The Way of Water, which comes out Dec. 16, by sitting down with The New York Times. He addressed the cast’s intensive training for the film’s elaborate underwater scenes, but also the stark character development in the movie’s main characters, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña).

In the sequel, which takes place 15 years after the original, Jake Sully and Neytiri are no longer sweethearts, but mother and father to their three children, which includes a reincarnated version of Sigourney Weaver’s character from the first movie. Unlike Marvel and DC, which Cameron suggests lacks authenticity, Jake and Neytiri don’t run into one burning building after the next, forgetting they have children to come home to.  

“In the first movie, Sam’s character leaps off his flying creature and essentially changes the course of history as a result of this crazy, almost suicidal leap of faith. And Zoe’s character leaps off a limb and assumes there’s going to be some nice big leaves down there that can cushion her fall.

“But when you’re a parent, you don’t think that way. So for me, as a parent of five kids, I’m saying, ‘What happens when those characters mature and realize that they have a responsibility outside their own survival?’”

It’s this authentic foresight that Cameron believes is the most important aspect of the movie and why fans love it so much. Marvel and DC on the other hand treat their characters “like they’re in college,” according to Cameron.

“When I look at these big, spectacular films — I’m looking at you, Marvel and DC — it doesn’t matter how old the characters are, they all act like they’re in college. They have relationships, but they really don’t. They never hang up their spurs because of their kids. The things that really ground us and give us power, love, and a purpose? Those characters don’t experience it, and I think that’s not the way to make movies.”

Hawkeye and Tony Stark immediately come to mind as two characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who risked it all to save the world, despite having children to come home to. Some would call that valiant or even brave, but not Cameron. Since it’s unlikely the parents of the superhero world plan to hang up their capes any time soon, directors like Cameron, Scorsese, and Coppola will just have to settle with battling it out at the box office with “college” kids saving the world one blockbuster film at a time.

Avatar: The Way of Water premieres in theaters everywhere on Dec. 16.

Cody Raschella
About the author

Cody Raschella

Cody Raschella is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor who has been with WGTC since 2021. He is a closeted Swiftie (shh), a proud ‘Drag Race’ fan (yas), and a hopeless optimist (he still has faith in the MCU). His passion for writing has carried him across various mediums including journalism, copywriting, and creative writing, the latter of which has been recognized by Writer’s Digest. He received his bachelor's degree from California State University, Northridge.