The Big Detail You Missed With The New Na'vi Tribe In Avatar 2

It is easy to understate how monumental James Cameron's "Avatar" was when it was first released. Not only was the film a phenomenal and unparalleled box office success, but it also presented a vast and immersive world that felt believable, that was rich in detail and lore. Sure, the impressive CGI helped make the Na'vi feel real, but it was the environments, the fantastical landscapes, the different flora and fauna, and the varied creature designs that sold the idea that Pandora was a real place with history, cultures, and peoples — and it worked. It worked so well, in fact, that there were reports of people suffering depression after watching the film upon finding out that they could not actually travel to the real Pandora. 

Enough has been said about the derivative plot of "Avatar" and how much it resembles other stories and movies, but the real magic trick James Cameron and his visual effects wizards pulled was making Pandora feel like a place full of possibility. The real promise of the "Avatar" franchise, then, was expanding that world, that moon of the planet Polyphemus, and showing what other wonders hid behind the horizon. 

Now, "Avatar: The Way of Water" is set to introduce new parts of Pandora, from water environments and reefs, to several new creatures, and also an entirely new Na'vi tribe — the Metkayina. They are set to be new allies and also new rivals, with the new trailer teasing a bit of a "Romeo and Juliet" situation with the children of Jake Sully and the head of the Metkayina, Olo'eyktan Tonowari. But hidden behind the technological marvel of the trailer is a small detail that could have big repercussions for the world of Pandora and the Na'vi.

A life under the sea

The first thing to notice about the Metkayina clan is that they seem biologically different from the Omaticaya. Their skin seems to be more greenish than the traditional intense blue of the mainland Na'vi, probably as a result of their aquatic life, as their skin color could allow them to blend with the environment underwater. Likewise, they seems to have larger eyes. But most curiously is the fact that the latest trailer reveals a tail-end difference between the two clans — literally. 

There is a shot in the trailer where we see Jake Sully and Neytiri's son Lo'ak getting into a fight with some Metkayina kids, most likely due to him looking more like an Avatar than a true Na'vi, as he is heard in the trailer saying he feels like an outcast. In that shot, we see a young Metkayina Na'vi launch forward and tackle Lo'ak, revealing a tail with a broadened end and a paddle-like shape, almost like a fin.

We know from the first film that the Na'vi have tails to help them balance their humongous bodies, so it makes sense that the Metkayina would have tails more suitable for their aquatic lifestyles, perhaps helping them move on water the way sea creatures do. The trailer even shows the Metkayina's forearms and legs are similarly molded almost like fins, like the Atlanteans of "Aquaman," adapted to live under the sea.

What else does Pandora hide?

This is important, because it shows that the Na'vi are biologically suited to their environment, adapting and evolving depending on where they live. More importantly, it opens the door for infinite possibilities for the future of the franchise, where each clan has abilities and a physiology dictated by their environment.

Something similar happens in the animated show "The Dragon Prince," which also shows a continent where different elf clans live in vastly different environments, each patterned after an element like earth and fire. The elves that live near a volcano are very resistant to fire, while the "Moonshadow Elves" that are connected to the magical energy of the Moon can become practically invisible. Is it the same in Pandora with the Na'vi? If so, how extreme are the biological differences and abilities of each clan? 

If the Metkayina and the Omaticaya are biologically different due to their environment, what about the other clans? Are there clans with different physical characteristics uniquely suited to their environment? Is there a clan with parachute-like skin that allows them to glide like flying squirrels? Because that should be the focus of what we're already calling "Avatar 3: The Way of Wind." 

In the meantime, we have the Metkayina and their fins to look forward to when "Avatar: The Way of Water" opens on December 16, 2022.