James Cameron Says Pregnant Warrior in Avatar 2 Pushes ‘Female Empowerment’ Beyond Wonder Woman

Kate Winslet as Ronal in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR 2

Kate Winslet as Ronal in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR 2

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022).
Photo: Avatar/Youtube

James Cameron says that his new film Avatar: The Way of Water adds to the female-empowerment space in a way that hasn’t quite been done before.

“Everybody’s always talking about female empowerment,” Cameron, 68, told Robert Rodriguez in a recent conversation for Variety‘s Directors on Directors series. “But what is such a big part of a woman’s life that we, as men, don’t experience? And I thought, ‘Well, if you’re really going to go all the way down the rabbit hole of female empowerment, let’s have a female warrior who’s six months pregnant in battle.’ ”

Expanding further on Kate Winslet‘s character, Ronal, he said, “It doesn’t happen in our society — probably hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. But I guarantee you, back in the day, women had to fight for survival and protect their children, and it didn’t matter if they were pregnant.”

Cameron went on to note that “pregnant women are more capable of being a lot more athletic than we, as a culture, acknowledge.”

“I thought, ‘Let’s take the real boundaries off,’ ” he added. “To me, it was the last bastion that you don’t see. Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel — all these other amazing women come up, but they’re not moms and they’re not pregnant while they’re fighting evil.”

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Kate Winslet as Ronal in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR 2

Kate Winslet as Ronal in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR 2

Kate Winslet as Ronal in Avatar: The Way of Water (2022).
20th Century Studios

Despite praising Wonder Woman as “amazing” in his comments to Rodriguez, 54, Cameron previously called the character played by Gal Gadot “an objectified icon” in an August 2017 interview with The Guardian, saying the latest interpretation was “a step backwards.”

The Oscar winner doubled down on his critique in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter the following month, saying, “Yes, I’ll stand by that.”

He explained, “I mean, she was Miss Israel, and she was wearing a kind of bustier costume that was very form-fitting. She’s absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. To me, that’s not breaking ground. They had Raquel Welch doing stuff like that in the ’60s.”

In her response to Cameron’s original comments, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins noted that not every female character has to look “hard, troubled and tough to be strong.”

Avatar: The Way of Water is about Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldaña) family and “the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure,” according to an official synopsis.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for an interview published last week, Winslet, 47, said she thought it was “just so cool” for her character to be pregnant in the film.

“Jim has so much admiration for women and pregnant women and what pregnant women are capable of, and how pregnant women are actually much more resilient and physically capable than I think often people give us credit for or would expect,” said the Academy Award winner, who is also mom to daughter Mia, 22, plus sons Joe, 18, and Bear, 9.

“The things we can achieve, I mean, my God, I don’t know a single pregnant woman who found out she was pregnant, sat down and did nothing,” Winslet added. “You just become kind of bionic; you feel like you are absolutely superhuman. And so for Jim to really harness that quality and ability and put it into its Na’vi form, it was just amazing. I loved that so much.”

Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters now.