Academy Award-winning director James Cameron is among the most influential filmmakers in the history of science fiction, finding himself at the forefront of technological advancements in special effects time and time again. His approach to action scenes and use of 3D are reflected across the industry in such blockbusters as The Avengers and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and he's been an inspiration to many A-list filmmakers, from Peter Jackson to Quentin Tarantino.
Why is it, then, that Cameron has been making more headlines recently due to his comments about superhero movies, than for his own work?
Last year, he called director Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman a step backward for female heroes. His argument? Gal Gadot's Diana should have been more like Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor, from his own Terminator films, if she wanted to be viewed as a noteworthy female hero. Predictably, Cameron received criticism for his comments, but instead of walking back his comments, he doubled down, suggesting there was ultimately nothing groundbreaking about the Warner Bros. hit.
Now, Cameron has set his sights on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The director recently stated that he hopes to see "Avengers fatigue" set in relatively soon in order to make way for something new. Marvel Studios, to its credit, took Cameron's comments in stride, with President Kevin Feige defusing the tension by emphasizing the director's concession that he loves the films.
However, Cameron's remarks are undeniably hypocritical when one considers the next five films on his docket are sequels. Terminator 6 is set to arrive in November 2019, just six months after the release of Avengers 4, while the director's four Avatar sequels are targeted to premiere in 2020, 2021, 2024 and 2025, respectively, although the latter two are dependent on the financial success of the former.
Cameron is no stranger to industry-changing blockbusters; he holds the top two spots on the list of highest-grossing films of all time (not adjusted for inflation), with 2009's Avatar and 1999's Titanic. But this raises the question: Why is he disparaging other blockbuster franchises? After all, it's not as though he's had a life-long stance against superhero movies. In the mid-1990s, he actually sought to make a Spider-Man film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Parker and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Octopus. He eventually dropped the project, and it was reworked into Sam Raimi's 2002 hit Spider-Man.
While Cameron hasn't been involved with the Terminator movies since the second installment, the franchise has seen a significant decline in critical reception, with the latest two chapters being largely panned. Terminator: Salvation stands at 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while 2015's Terminator: Genisys is at 26 percent. However, Cameron is returning to helm the sixth Terminator film (with stars Hamilton and Schwarzenegger in tow), which is set to reboot the franchise, acting as a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The bottom line is, Cameron obviously doesn't view the Avengers series as too long in the tooth, or he would avoid aging franchises himself.
To be fair, Cameron does make a good point in that there are other stories to be told. However, he's wrong that superhero franchises need to die out in order for the others to succeed. These stories can live side by side at the local multiplex; there's no need to denigrate the MCU and other superhero films in hopes of ensuring greater success for Avatar or Terminator.
What makes Cameron's comments particularly interesting is that the breakout star of the Avatar franchise is Zoe Saldana, who also portrays Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming Avengers 4. Recently, she eloquently defended superhero actors against industry elitists. She also cited Hamilton's Sarah Connor and Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley, both franchise characters Cameron has been praised for, as her inspirations for becoming an actor.
The MCU is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, having earned more than $14.8 billion over the course of 18 films, leading up to what's sure to be the record-setting opening this weekend of Infinity War. That would certainly suggest that movie-goers are unlikely to become fatigued by the Avengers, or superhero movies in general, anytime in the near future. Therefore, Cameron may be better off directing his hopes toward something else.