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James Cameron's Avatar vs. Cartoons from the '80s and '90s

Updated on October 23, 2013

Unless you've been living under a rock or hibernating in Antarctica, you will have noticed that a rather popular movie about blue aliens and evil humans pretending to be aliens has recently hit the shelves of your nearest rental store, Walmart, or RedBox. James Cameron's movie Avatar has caused quite a stir in the entertainment universe for the past year. Gaining a cruiseship-load of praise from Hollywood elite and consumers alike (Leonardo DiCaprio called it "astounding" and "unbelievable," but we all know he owes Cameron one from his role in Titanic), Avatar has reaped the benefits of years of expensive production and special effects.

I myself enjoyed a lovely Christmas-tide afternoon watching the blue aliens and their human counterparts as they frolicked among light-up plants, rode dangerous dragons, and found love in inter-species romance. Basically, I enjoyed the film in its visual aspect, even though the storyline was a bit too much tree-hugger for meĀ . What struck me though, was how all the hype about the Avatar movie failed to recognize the unoriginality that is, to me, so blatant. Once the film hit the silver screen however, this unoriginality became known to more than just me.

I'm not the only to think that James Cameron spent the years after Titanic watching cartoons from the '80s and '90s...

Let's take a look (just for fun) at all the cartoons that might have influenced James Cameron in making Avatar.


My favorite comparison is FernGully, the cutesy environmental cartoon movie from 1992. This was a movie that made quite an impression on my little child mind. Fairies, talking bats, and lush rainforests took hold of my imagination. Too bad the story was so lame: A guy who is helping to kill a rainforest is magically shrunk to the size of a fairy. He falls in love with a natural-born fairy and decides to stop killing the rainforest. Sound familiar? Read more about the comparison between Avatar and Fern Gully here:

The Smurfs

A popular comparison is made with "The Smurfs," a cartoon from the 1980s. Na'vi are blue just like the Smurfs are. Na'vi say strange words like the Smurfs do (ok, so the Smurfs just say "smurf" all the time). They even like cute little animals like the Smurfs do.


"Thundercats" was another cartoon series from the '80s that looked like Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical on steroids. Thundercats are aliens that look like cat-humans. They live on the planet of Pan-- excuse me, I meant to say they live on the planet of Thundera. Thundera was attacked by enemies from the planet of Plun-Darr. Alas, another planet destroyed by outsiders...

The Ewoks

"The Ewoks" cartoon was a spin-off from Star Wars. Ewoks are lovable bear-like creatures that live on the planet of... Endor. Huh. Anyway, Ewoks just want to live their own peaceful lives minding their own planet, but their enemies just won't let them alone.

Care Bears

You know, the Na'vi are kind of like the Care Bears. Care Bears live in Care-a-Lot, and they really do care a lot about everyone and everything. Just like Care Bears (devoid of clothing), Na'vi take care of all creatures on their planet, even the dead ones.

Rainbow Brite

Another beloved cartoon from the '80s was "Rainbow Brite." She was so cool and colorful. Although Rainbow Brite doesn't look like a Na'vi, she rode a very special steed to help her win her battles. Something like a flying banshee, don't you think?

G.I. Joe

Let's not forget the other side in the battle for Pandora. The US military in the movie is an awful lot like the characters in the '80s cartoon "G.I. Joe." Only, G.I. Joes were good guys, and the soldiers in Avatar are viewed as evil war-mongerers.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Personally, I think Cameron should have watched more "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" when he was creating the enemy force in Avatar. Ninjas have sick skills, whereas soldiers just have machines. Plus, these guys were green... imagine Avatar if it was green guys against blue guys!


Ok, so Braveheart isn't a cartoon... but look - blue faces!

Am I exaggerating? Maybe, maybe not. What do you think?

What did you think of Avatar?

See results

Blue Man Group / CC BY 2.0 / CC BY 2.0


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    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

      Hi John, maybe I got carried away... At any rate, thanks for the comment and for the follow!

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 6 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      Wow, so many comparisons! In my critique of Avatar, I merely mentioned Pocahontus and World of Warcraft. But Ferngully, GI Joe and The Blue Man Group are right up there!

      Nice works, already you've got another follower! ^^

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Mimi, well maybe I had a little too much fun with this one... I would like JC to comment very much :)

    • minesgm profile image

      minesgm 7 years ago from Texas

      lol, keen observer, you are probably right that Avatar is a touch of every cartoons and movie you have mentioned in this hub.

      it's good to vote this up. Hope JC will also comment. Mimi

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      tanamaria, yes, there really wasn't much originality in Avatar, in my opinion. I guess when Hollywood finds a formula that works the first time, they like to beat it to death with repetition.

    • profile image

      tanamaria 7 years ago

      I too share your perspective on AVATAR. I also feel that this film is yet another example of how not just Cameron, but all of Hollywood has lost its originality as far as story-lines go. How many comic books need to be resurrected into film, and then revamped by a second director after 2 or 3 have already been released? And how many times do viewers need to see the forbidden love before it gets old?

      LOVE the Braveheart reference too, lol. Didn't even occur to me.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for coming by, Joshua. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't think Avatar is a must-see, but not many people agree with me. But you know, the whole Pandora planet was pretty cool.

    • Joshua Kell profile image

      Levi Joshua Kell 7 years ago from Arizona

      Great hub. I really must live under a rock as I haven't seen Avatar yet... I don't watch TV at all, and I rarely watch movies, but all my friends and family have been telling me I need to see this one; so I intend to break down and make my way over to where I may find it, and check it out. I really enjoyed you analysis of the movie, and cinema pop culture. Thanks for the great read.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Joni! It was kind of like deja vu, wasn't it?

    • Joni Douglas profile image

      Joni Douglas 7 years ago

      I saw the connection to Fern Gully right away too. Love the hub!.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Kendall, I'm glad you liked it. Well, I might be the only person to say you aren't missing much. I think I was exaggerating a little bit about the cartoons, but I just couldn't resist!

    • Kendall H. profile image

      Kendall H. 7 years ago from Northern CA

      I might be the only person who hasn't seen Avatar so I won't say anything about the film but I can say I enjoyed reading your hub and all the comparisons with 80s cartoons. :)

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks, Nick, it's all in good fun...

    • NickSimpson profile image

      NickSimpson 7 years ago from Jacksonville, Illinois

      Awesome Comparisons!

      Thanks for putting this cool hub together,


    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you, alysea and Mandie, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • profile image

      Mandie 7 years ago

      Love this hub! Great job!

    • profile image

      alysea 7 years ago


    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks, I kind of like it myself :)

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Loved the Braveheart Blue and Avatar reference :)