How Clint Eastwood Inspired Jake Sully's New Look In Avatar: The Way Of Water

This article contains spoilers for "Avatar: The Way of Water."

In the years it took to bring "Avatar: The Way of Water" to the screen, James Cameron and the folks at Wētā FX spent that time developing new technology to better help the motion capture performances. Seeing as the actors were covered in dots and gray suits, it doesn't lend much of an opportunity for them to move in tandem with their character's costumes. Enter Deborah L. Scott, the Academy Award-winning costume designer behind "Titanic," "E.T.," and, of course, both "Avatar" films. The costumes, whether they be for the Na'vi or the Recom Avatars, are designed first and digitally inserted later.

The world of Pandora gives Scott more of an opportunity to design the Metkayina and their culture. But at the same time, it also allows her to show the progression of an individual character journey, most notably with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). In "The Way of Water," Jake's actions from the first film have come back to haunt him and his family, therefore he must leave the Omaticaya clan for their safety. Upon arriving at the Metkayina's doorstep for sanctuary, there's a noticeable difference in how he presents himself.

During an exclusive interview with /Film's Jack Giroux, Scott talked about there's a leather poncho look that was modeled after one of Clint Eastwood's most famous characters:

"It's a protective piece, and he was like, 'I want him to look like Clint Eastwood here.' So, we came up with that, and in his mind, those are the things that are related. I think it's because Clint had ponchos in some of those movies. That's going to stay with Jake into ['Avatar 3'] a little bit, so it'll get a little bit more airplay."

Jake's costume changes define his evolving role

Although Jake's poncho look emulates Eastwood's Man with No Name from Sergio Leone's "Dollars" trilogy, he's far from a wandering loner. However, the sentiment is oddly fitting. In the film, the Metakayina clan know and respect Jake's status as Toruk Makto. But at this point in "The Way of Water," he's still without a home, so he strips himself of the warrior look and trades it in for something looser.

As Scott will tell you, this kind of costuming decision not only allows us to see a new side to Jake, but it also shows who he could be in the in-between stages of donning his fighter getup (via /Film):

"He's not trying to get out there and be Jake Sully at that point. He's got his dreads, he's let his hair go. He doesn't have the presentation as he does at the point in the movie where he decides to jump back in and defend the clan. When he does that, he puts his cummerbund back on, he shaves the side of his head, which reveals his stronger jaw, gives him a much more warrior-like influence."

In "Avatar," Jake is introduced as an aimless, yet good-hearted Marine who learns to be a new kind of warrior for the Na'vi, but Sully's arc in "The Way of Water" presents Worthington with an opportunity to show a more unfastened side of the character. Jake only dons his battle aesthetic when his family is directly in peril. In those quieter moments, it reveals a more interesting and complicated face to the character that I'll be interested to see expanded upon in the later installments.

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is now playing in theaters nationwide.