As the theater lights dimmed and the wild fantasy world of Avatar unfolded in 3D, the kids shrieked in excitement while I watched in wonder struck awe. Grizzly machines, fierce denizens of the wild , floating mountains and the verdant colorful world of Pandora all comes alive in this epic saga and while one is tempted to think of the Star Wars trilogy, even it fades away in comparison to the sheer size of the canvas and the scale of the epic created by James Cameron.
Cameron sets out on his story of mankind colonizing another planet for its rare mineral Unobtanium much like oil here, and its apparent that the new millennium man has not his lessons of the past. So its history repeating itself out in another planet. This far away world has almost similar set of variables & conditions that GOD set up to make things around us possible, so Cameron definitely ascribes to the theory of cosmic inflation.
And with this presumption he goes about weaving a simple story of adventure & bravery, of sacrifice and redemption woven around a world of imagination that draws its inspiration from many sources. I have tried to make a list of possible sources from what seemed to be plausible inspirations to me, however it must be noted that Cameron has cleverly tweaked them to make it mighty interesting
1. The various animals/creatures depicted in the film have strong resemblance to prehistoric denizens of the Mesozoic era. A panther like creature akin to Gorgonops chases Jake, the Na’vi hero and separates him from his expedition team. Then there is a Placerias type animal with the head of a hammer shark & body of a Rhino , while the heroine Neytiri saves the hero from a pack of Coelophysis type of nocturnal carnivores. A horse that looks a variant of Macrauchenia, seems to have the head of that of an antillope & body of Clydesdale.
2. Birds are certainly variants of archeopteryx.& Ornithocheirus and larger variants of Pteranodon with large wingspans, teethed beaks and in lively colors of green,red & yellow
3. The military machines in Avatar bear the real hallmarks of the US defense industry , the helicopters are a cross between UH 60 Black hawk (overhead rotors are replaced by variable fan blades in the side) & V-22 Osprey . The spacecraft (shown in the beginning of the movie) looks a contemporary version of the US space shuttle. All these machines seem straight out of Boeing, Hughes, Lockheed or a Grumman factory with their trademark designs & hallmark black colour (do all military equipment have to be black?). If they had been inspired by flash Gordon comics i am sure they would have looked somewhat similar to Russian military equipment (with bulky bodies , sharp edges and other than black colour).
4. The society of Aliens (Na’vi tribe) is cleverly constructed with dollops of inspiration from the Dark Continent (Africa). Any social anthropologist will vouch the strong cultural affinity to certain Central African tribes that species in the movie ascribe to. The headbeads & body paraphernalia including bows & arrows, the dialect, rituals & even the odd song in the movie has undoubtedly been influenced.
5. Transmogrification: in the comic Calvin & Hobbes, our friend calving gets into a cardboard box & then transforms into something else. Here too our ex-marine hero (who is physically challenged) changes his constitutional identity to that of an alien & shuttles forth by a flick of switch from what seems to be an advanced version of Calvins cardboard box.
6. The motorized robots (large "mech" motorized suit )seem straight out of ‘Transformers’ and appear as a variant of Megatron while the central evil character Colonel Miles Quaritch leader of the security forces closely resembles the toy Chip Hazard, leader of the Commando Elite in the movie ‘Small Soldiers’.
It is evident that Cameron like his contemporary Steven Spielberg, is a big fan of the comics and toys.