After a 13-year wait, the second installment of James Cameron’s Avatar series, Avatar: The Way of Water, has arrived and is set to be a box office hit. Despite its flaws, the movie is a visual spectacle, with stunning shots of the planet Pandora’s ecological system and inhabitants, the 10-foot-tall, slender blue aliens known as the Na’vi, rendered in computer-generated imagery that looks mind-bogglingly real. So real, in fact, that some viewers have come away from The Way of Water with a strong liking for one of the aliens in particular: the Marine-turned-Na’vi, Jake Sully.
Fancams of Sully, in which video clips of him are edited together and set to a popular song, have been circulating Twitter and TikTok since before the movie’s release in December. Fancams, which are typically highly-stylized clips of a certain beloved artist, character or actor, took off as an art in 2020, thanks to K-pop fans who would reply to tweets from pop culture Twitter accounts like Pop Crave and Pop Base with videos of their favorite artists. Slowly, the phenomenon started to work its way outside of the K-pop realm and seep into mainstream pop culture, as we’re now seeing with the rise of Avatar 2 fancams.
The hashtags #JakeSully and #JakeSullyEdit have a combined 810 million views on TikTok. Some of the videos include clips of scenes from the first movie spliced together with quick cuts, filters, and slow motion tacked on. One video uploaded Dec. 3 has amassed close to six million views and almost one million likes.
A more recent fanedit shows clips from the new movie and the old with the parody song that is taking over TikTok, “BigBoys” sung by the cast of SNL and SZA. The caption reads, “May not be as big in width but definitely big in length.” It has over two million views.
It’s unsurprising that the fandom for this character has found a new place on TikTok as there’s been a community of people who have admired this lean, mean, man-fighting machine since 2009. On Archive of Our Own, a website where people publish fanfictions, there are stories about Sully, his wife Neytiri, and many other things dating all the way back to Dec. 2009. Many of the early fanfictions dating back to the early 2010s have thousands of hits (the number of times the story has been accessed). Some of the most recent stories were uploaded today, Dec. 21, with hundreds of hits and growing. The number of these fan stories and fancams will only continue to grow as more Avatar sequels roll out, with the next one scheduled for 2024.
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