the last mindbender

How Much Do You Actually Remember About Avatar?

“It’s expensive to be me.” — James Cameron Photo: AJ Pics/Alamy Stock Photo

In 2009, James Cameron made film history and reminded the world of what a little weirdo he is when he released his passion project, an original concept (well, “original” if you didn’t have Pocahontas or FernGully on VHS) called Avatar. The sci-fi blockbuster pioneered technological innovations in motion capture, rendered CG environments in synchronicity with human performances, and spawned a wave of studios releasing their tentpoles in RealD 3D. It cost $237 million to make, was nominated for Best Picture, and remains the highest-grossing movie globally of all time, earning more than any single film from the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Marvel franchises (although Avengers: Endgame has it beat domestically). It was a behemoth. Everyone saw it. I saw it. You saw it. But can you quote a single line? Do you remember the villain’s whole deal, or even his name? If you saw Sam Worthington on the street, would you think, Hey, that’s Sam Worthington, star of the most successful film of all time, or would you not recognize him at all?

Was Avatar just a half-remembered mass hallucination?

It wasn’t, but it is actually a feat of sorts for something so massive to have so little cultural penetration, like Facebook in 2022, or Hudson Yards. (Of course, many people are genuinely fans of Avatar … this quiz will be a breeze for those.) This December, Cameron will release the first of four sequels, building on the story introduced to audiences 13 years ago. Avatar: The Way of Water follows the last film’s main characters and their daughter as they fight a new war against those pesky humans. With around 100 days to go before the film’s release, it’s time to start boning up on your blue-alien lore.

How Much Do You Actually Remember About Avatar?

Most present-day middle-schoolers were not born yet when this movie came out. Have you seen it since then?

True or False: Avatar takes place on a planet in the Alpha Centauri star system.
This lush CG land, which drove many viewers into a depression by dint of their inability to live there for real, is called _______.
The film takes place in the year ...
The native humanoid aliens are called the ______.
The story is from the perspective of an outsider, though. What’s the name of the main character?
He has traveled from Earth on a five-year journey in cryo-sleep to come to this planet. Why is he there?
The Resources Development Administration has set up operations on the planet to mine a powerful substance called __________.
In his new avatar body, our hero becomes bodyguard to scientist Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver. In one haunting mo-cap scene, Grace’s avatar plays basketball in a crop top for ____.
One thing to know about the inhabitants of this planet and the humans’ avatar forms is they’re not just blue cat people, they’re also lanky. Like a bunch of fit, loinclothed Nicholas Brauns running around. How tall are they, exactly?
Our hero meets Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldaña, when she saves him from ...
Our hero learns the way of Neytiri’s alien society while living amongst her people and entering their sacred spaces. He learns about multiple trees of great importance to the planet. Which of these is not one of them?
This society prays to the life force that connects them to all living things in the land. The name for this god/spirit is _____.
As our good guy spends time with Neytiri, he learns the Na'vi's language, which was constructed for the film by linguist Paul Frommer, who also invented an alien language for __________.
Our hero proves his worthiness to Neytiri’s clan when he undergoes the traditional rite of passage of taming and riding a dragonlike flying creature known as a ________.
Our main character realizes he must stop the human-led mission to drive Neytiri’s people away from their sacred land. The Big Bad leading the invading charge is ________.
In the big climactic battle of this big-budget movie, Neytiri saves the hero’s life a second time and kills the bad guy. Surely you remember this; it cost millions upon millions of dollars. How did she kill him?
Which of these corny-ass lines is not in the movie?
In the grand tradition of Titanic before it, the movie ends with an original ballad playing over the credits. Called “I See You,” the song premiered on Myspace (slay) and was sung by _______.

How Much Do You Actually Remember About Avatar?