James Cameron might claim that he doesn’t bear a grudge against the Marvel Cinematic Universe and superhero cinema in general, but the words that keep coming out of his mouth tend to say otherwise. Of course, the filmmaker has built his career on putting cold, hard, cash right where that mouth is, and Avatar: The Way of Water is holding up its end of the bargain on that front.
Fresh from crossing a billion dollars at the box office in under two weeks – becoming the fifth-fastest film to do so in the process – the sci-fi sequel hasn’t slowed down in the slightest. In fact, The Way of Water has already sailed past $1.1 billion globally, thanks in part to the single highest Wednesday gross of 2022.
It may not have caught Top Gun: Maverick on a domestic or worldwide scale as of yet, but The Way of Water is additionally the top-earning overseas release of 2022, and runner-up for the entire COVID era behind Spider-Man: No Way Home, with the MCU always in or around Cameron’s orbit.
If it can reach $1.5 billion by the middle of next week, then it shifts into second in terms of the rapidest ascent to the lofty figure, with Avengers: Infinity War taking 18 days, even if the chase to match Endgame‘s eight was over long ago.
Not only has Cameron joined MCU veterans the Russo brothers to become the second director to helm a trio of billion-dollar smash hits, but he’s also hoping to match the siblings by seeing Avatar join Kevin Feige’s long-running saga as the second film series in history to have two entries ascend to the mythical $2 billion threshold.
As things stand, The Way of Water has also (or will imminently) blow past virtually every MCU installment ever made on both the domestic and global fronts should it crack the $1.5 billion barrier, which it almost certainly will – which would leave Spider-Man: No Way Home, Infinity War, and Endgame as the three comic book adaptations left standing in its wake.
Cameron has already called the shots on the single most lucrative feature of all-time twice over – three times if you include Avatar overtaking Endgame following multiple re-releases – so who knows what could happen in the future. All we know at this stage is that any talk of the mega-budget second chapter bombing was roughly a billion miles wide of the mark.