Avatar (film)/Headscratchers/Pandora

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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Banshee Biology?

This is something that's bugged me for awhile after watching the movie a few times. All the banshees/leonopteryxs have slotted wings - separate fins that look vaguely similar to the primary feathers on a bird. But that doesn't make sense! Having slots like that on an animal with wings that are basically oversized bat wings wouldn't work - the air would slip right through. Even birds of prey, which have somewhat "slotted" wings still have a pretty big consistent surface area; most of their feathers have no space between them. Even in the low gravity on Pandora, it just doesn't seem logical. The Pandora wiki says that the slots can "seal up" to form one plane, but that doesn't make sense either. There's now way they could fly like that. Picture a bat with long slices between the skin on their "fingers" and try to imagine them flying...

  • Cameron intended the banshees to have primary feathers replaced with membranes, so I'm not completely sure what's the problem (a lack of knowledge on aerial predator biology contributes to that). And the slots don't run that deep either, so...
    • They rotate for vortex generation, for level flight or diving. When they are in level flight, they form a coherent surface.
  • Actually, a wing with longitudinal slots actually generates more lift that an equivalent wing with no slots. The air flow through those slots helps keep the wing from stalling. It's called a slotted flap, and if you sit behind the wing in a commercial airliner you'll be able to see that there is a gap between the flap and the rest of the wing, at least while the flap is deployed for low-speed flight.

DNA outside earth?

The Na'vi, and presumably all life on Pandora has a DNA code. It's even similar enough to the earth variety for humans to export their genes to avatars. The chance of a compatible system of DNA arising independently on another planet? Practically none, indicating a shared ancestor between lifeforms more than six lightyears apart.

    • Which is why James Cameron said he didn't want to "pigeonhole" the film as science fiction, but rather "science/fiction/adventure/fantasy".
    • Check out pandorapedia. It says Na'vi have something that works in similar way to DNA/RNA, but its chemistry is completely different. It was one of the problems to overcome during the creation of Avatars.
    • This is one of the more plausible problems. After all:
      • A. Adenine, one of the four base pairs, can be synthesized in the vacuum of space, with only 5 cyanide molecules and a bit of star light.
      • It's likely earth had different kinds of storage mechanisms like RNA and DNA on early earth, but eventually RNA and DNA won out. The reason may be as simple as efficiency or stability. It's really hard to say, but one presumes if it's just a matter of chemical efficiency, the same would hold true across the universe.
        • Not really. A slight difference in chemical conditions or temperature can cause something else to be much more stable. DNA isn't inherently the only molecule you could use. You can (and people have) change the sugar backbone, and there are lots of different nucleotides and similar chemical molecules you can use on them. You can even make peptide dna hybrids with enhanced stability. It's not at all unreasonable for the navi to not use DNA.

Why did the wildlife leave the inactive Avatar-bodies alone?

Seriously, there are several instances where the bodies are left lying about the incredibly dangerous jungles of Pandora with no protection, yet not a single carrion eater so much as nibbles them.

  • Apparently when Neytiri is berating Jake for making too much noise, she genuinely means it: if you just stand still and keep quiet, the wildlife will leave you alone.
    • The planet must have the hungriest carrion eaters of all time.
      • Not with everything hunting everything else and the extensive forest.
      • Or the carrion-eater niche is mostly filled by microbes; a comatose Avatar body still has a functioning immune system to keep that threat at bay.
      • The only time any Avatar body was left unattended for any length of time was Jake's own after the collapse of Hometree. I'm willing to be that since there was almost no life left around Hometree, and was probably scared off by the barrage, no carrion eaters were around to go after after his body.
      • Also, carrion eaters generally don't move in until after you're dead. Since an unattended Avatar body is still alive and breathing, just comatose, the carrion eaters probably react to it like they would to any other sleeping person -- 'I'd better not try to bite that guy, he might wake up and stab me.'
      • Quite a few animals do attack people in their sleep. It probably has more to do with all the animals getting scared away.
    • Not to mention that there's going to be dozens or hundreds of other actual Na'vi corpses scattered about that they can chow down on instead. The scavengers would naturally avoid a breathing, potentially deadly Na'vi when they've got plenty of dead Na'vi to get to first.

What was the deal with the "floating mountains"?

You can't just show me something as physics-defying as huge floating mountains (some with waterfalls which brings up even MORE questions) and not even attempt to explain how that works.

  • If none of these arguments satisfy, Rule of Cool.
  • The mountains are made of unobtanium, which floats because of the moon's magnetic field, like a massive Mag-Lev train.
    • Magnetic field? Oh, I guess that explains why the human missile-tracking systems wouldn't work ... but not why the humans' other machines and vehicles still worked well enough in the mountains.
    • Wha? If the mountains were made of Unobtanium, why didn't the humans just mine them instead?
      • You remove the unobtainium, the mountain crashes, killing and destroying everything on it. Surprisingly, it only took one such occurrence for the humans to learn to leave them alone.
      • Because the Na'Vi would raise a big stink over them, the same way they do for Home Tree. It's probably also because the sacred tree itself is in there too; rolling in to mine the floating mountains would have the same effect as trying to mine Home Tree.
      • Except that there are a lot fewer Na'vi on the floating mountains (none permanently, from the looks of it) than under the Home Tree. So when they raise a stink over the dirty humans defiling their sacred ground, RDA just ignores them. A better explanation is that doing heavy mining operations on a flying mountain is prohibitively expensive or just technically impossible.
      • Also, it's incredibly difficult to get up there, as electronic guidance systems cannot operate in that area, forcing pilots to fly without instruments. Plus, when you're on a floating piece of rock, it's generally not a good idea to remove the stuff that's keeping the rock floating.
        • I believe it was stated in one commentary or another that they did try to mine the flying mountains. Guess what happens when you take the "air" out of a fifty ton flying rock with billions of dollars of mining equipment and personnel on it?
          • Which, if you think about it, is also weird. Wouldn't every bit of Unobtanium removed cause the mountains to be less sensitive to the magnetism and float less? In other words, wouldn't "taking the air out" slowly cause a gradual and proportional descent, and only when taken out? That is to say, it would drop to a lower altitude and stay there.
            • Check your physics. Archimedean lift in water works either up all the way to the surface or all the way down to the bottom or, if you manage to balance gravity and archimedean lift exactly, you stay in exactly this or that depth. It works differently in the air because air has variable density. And as for trying to extract something, imagine a huge electromagnet: a core of, say, iron, very thick winding made of copper and a huge current coming through that winding. It's working, and you know it contains copper you want to extract. So you start extracting little bits of copper. First nothing visible happens, and you go on. After you have extracted some amount of copper, cross-section of the cable in this place becomes smaller and resistance goes up. As resistance goes up, so does the heat generation in that place, so you risk being fried. And if you manage to cut the cable completely, you risk athmoshperic discharge and being electrocuted or, if that didn't stop you or didn't happen, you break the circuit and electromagnet suddenly loses its magnetic field. Bottom line: behavior of said floating mountains during extraction depends heavily on exact mechanism of antigravity. Unless JC volunteers more information about how it works, no conjecture can be considered valid. Period. And as for waterfalls, hey, guys, it's GRAVITY going haywire in there. Some unfortunate river could get sucked up and then poured down.
          • So if it's dangerous, automate your mining equipment.
            • It still smashes just as easily, and now costs more and is even more susceptible to failure in the magnetic field.
            • Better idea: mine just enough for the mountain to slowly drift to the ground. Then mine what's left.
          • Then why didn't they just drop high powered explosives on the mountains from higher up in the atmosphere or from orbit to break them up into manageable chunks? If there wasn't enough unobtanium to keep them floating they could just collect the pieces off the ground, and if they were still airborne they could've just scooped them out of the air. Far less dangerous than putting all your damn equipment on the things and trying to take out the stuff that's keeping you up.
          • Because when you're only getting so much equipment/explosives per year, you won't have enough explosives in general for your plan to work. Not to mention that the rocks float due to the Meissner effect, which further complicates things when you start blowing chunks off the mountains.
            • Do you understand the resources it takes to travel between stars? Saying an interstellar spaceship wouldn't have enough equipment or explosives to drop rocks from orbit is like saying your local Walmart wouldn't have enough supplies to clean up a single droplet of water. (That aside, I've got nothing about the Meissner effect)
            • Go find a picture of the ISV Venture Star. Tell me, how is it feasible to launch any kind of explosives out of a craft like that? It's made for transportation and that's it; think of all the money that has to be dumped into a single craft for it to fire anything. In all likelihood, it's cheaper to get what's left in the stripmine before they start doing orbital bombardment.
              • Plus its TOTAL payload excluding passengers is around that of a very large cargo plane (think An-225).
              • Or maybe it just rains sometimes.
                • Exactly, aside from the gravity altering effects of the area, which could plausibly move water streams in an upward direction, they do have clouds and thus they have vapor and condensation, which is how rain gets to the sky on our very own, non-gravity defying, Earth. How does snow get to the top of Mt. Everest?
  • There's also the huge flocks of Banshees and their giant orange cousins.
      • Really, flying animals without riders would be about as harmless as birds.
        • Except no, banshees and others were shown to be aggressive even without riders.
          • Toruk even more so, various background material states that Toruk will often attack RDA helicopters for no other reason than being nearby.
  • the second part of the origial post, about the waterfalls is completely sensable though. How the hell do waterfalls form on floating moutains? At first one thinks " Oh, maybe there's a spring IN the mountain" but no, that would have run dry long ago. I also read someone else's note about how it could be condensation but there's no way enough water could condense on the rock to cause waterfalls 24/7 (or whatever Pandora's day and week cycle is...)
    • Or, as above, maybe it just rains on the floating mountains sometimes, causing temporary waterfalls to form.
  • They float because of the Meissner Effect - probably some current was induced in a giant unobtainium loop underground, this causes a large magnetic field (also explains some of the problems with machinery) and naturally causes the unobtainum-containing rocks above to float. Given the existence of unobtainium, this is actually not very improbable. However, I missed the sparks and flying metal that would usually accompany such a strong magnetic field...
    • Depends on the strength.
  • So, let me get this straight: the mountains are made (mostly) of Unobtanium. We can assume these many rocks are almost pure, 'cause we can see that the material does not have much "buyoancy" (the little piece in the command center is easily taken in hand, doesn't extort much force). This is a superconductor that works even in a tropical temperature, and even with the electromagnetic field of a Jovian planet on its satellites. There are not many Na Vis on the mountains (it doesn't seem there is any permanent settlement, surely not on all of them; there are not Banshees in every mountain, so that's no sacred ground on every mountain), and if a little harder to navigate to, you can land on them. There are regular sublminal journey from Earth to Pandora and back, and they carry great weights (all the materials is imported, even the bigass mining machines).

So WHY THE HELL not 1) go to a mountain, possibly without nests to not piss off the natives/exterminate rare lifeforms 2) apply a greater electromagnetic field 3) have the mountain of desired tons of Unobtanium go up in orbit 4) simply take them back to Earth, without on site costly processing? Heck, you could even save up time processing the chunck of rock between Pandora and Earth, if that's the problem.

    • Because that implies they have the money and energy generation equipment as well as infrastructure to build a flying mountain and then the same to get it up to 0.7c (while also adding on all the necessarily equipment to support a crew, deceleration, etc etc).

How the hell do incendiary weapons work in atmosphere with no oxygen?

Seriously, unless that was some kind of magic Pandoran physics bending fire, there's absolutely no way you can start a fire in an atmosphere composed mostly of carbon dioxide.

  • Completely incorrect since Pandora's atmosphere is ~20% oxygen. Exopacks are not air tanks, they are filters, which remove excess CO2 and H2S from the air.
  • Incendiary weapons do not necessarily require an oxygen-rich environment. It could contain its own oxidizer. That or as other tropers have mentioned, pandora does not necssarily lack oxygen.
    • ....because there is oxygen on the planet? They use the gas masks because they can't breathe the atmosphere in question.
      • But there's obviously not enough oxygen to support Earth-based lifeforms, or else it would have displaced the more dangerous gases. Fire needs a specific fuel-air ratio in order to burn. I'll concede that it may be possible to support small fires, but fires large enough to burn skyscraper sized trees is just too much.
        • There is, the oxygen percentage is similar to Earth's. There is just too much hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide for Earth organisms to breathe it without dying.
      • The gases don't necessarily need to be in high concentrations to be lethal. We've got nerve gases nowadays that can kill at a relatively few parts-per-million.
  • The recepie for breathable air is way more than just oxygen. Most of the air we breathe is nitrogen. It's perfectly possible that Pandoran atmosphere actually has more oxygen than Earth, but the other components are toxic to humans.
    • Exactly. Hydrogen sulphide (1%) and carbon dioxide (18%) to be exact, both of which are enough to kill humans.
    • Exactly. Its the presence of Hydrogen Sulfide (AKA: Swamp Gas) in the atmosphere that makes it toxic to humans (and most forms of Terran life). Just to point out how utterly nasty the stuff is, and high levels of the gas in the atmosphere are thought to be responsible for the Permian–Triassic extinction, a die off so massive that made the Cretaceous-Tertiary Event that killed off the dinosaurs event look down right mild in comparison. In other words, Hydrogen Sulfide is nasty shit.
      • In which case Pandora shouldn't be a lush green world, it should be a fairly desolate yellow planet.
      • Humans can tolerate low levels of both (as with almost all chemicals, to extremely varying degrees), life on Pandora is adapted to higher levels.
        • This is almost certainly a case of the creators implying Bizarre Alien Biology, in that the basic structures of the Pandorans' cells are chemically different to life from Earth.
  • Noone suggests that the atmosphere lacks oxygen, humans without breathing gear don't suffocate, they are poisoned
    • But it's the type of poison that has absolutely no lasting effects and which you recover from in about 1 second when clean air is resupplied via their masks? It really does seem more like lack of oxygen than some kind of poison.
    • There's oxygen in the Pandoran atmosphere - it's the severely increased (18 times) levels of carbon dioxide that makes it toxic to humans. Hemoglobin molecules bond to CO2 several million times better than oxygen. And that's not counting the hydrogen sulfide and xenon that's also in the air.
      • Uh... carbon dioxide does not bind to haemoglobin. I think you might be thinking of carbon monoxide.
      • True, I was wrong on that point. Breathing CO2 still isn't a good idea anyways.
      • Actually, hemoglobin does bond to carbon dioxide. How do you think blood carries the carbon dioxide back to the lungs so it can be expelled. To be fair, since the pollutants in the Pandoran air are primarily volcanic in origin, carbon monoxide could be produced.
        • This is true. CO is dangerous because it bonds permanently, neutralising each haemoglobin molecule it bonds with.
  • This Trooper assumed the atmosphere had an abundance of oxygen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity of course that whould mean things catch fire more easily and forest fires whould be common.
    • It's similar to Earth's level.
  • Acc. to some of the supporting material, I think the atmosphere was basically "Earth's atmosphere with other junk thrown in on top" (notably the hydrogen sulfide...and it's gotta be H2S because if it were hydrogen cyanide, as one or two sources have suggested, simple skin contact could end up being lethal).
  • Perhaps a better question is, Why does fire look like Earthside wood fires? Flame color tends to vary with the gas and fuel composition, to the point that candles can be used to broadly determine air quality. If there were something else burning along with the oxygen, it ought to change the color of the flames, and if it doesn't burn, it is (from what science I retain)inert and therefore not toxic.
    • Because the atmosphere is primarily nitrogen with some oxygen and other trace gases (as on Earth), albeit with a lot more hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide, which are what make it fatal to humans.
    • please allow me to fill your room with carbon monoxide, which obviously is non-toxic because it doesn't burn.
    • the toxic gasses in pandora's atmosphere don't necesarily need to have any visible effect in a flame test, nor does it need be in concentrations large enough to be visible in a flame test in order to be toxic.
  • Bottom line is that Pandora does have oxygen, and can support fire.

"They are extremely hard to kill" How?

  • The Colonel tells his troops that the Na'vi are extremely hard to kill. What makes him say that? The humans superior technology cuts through the natives with ease. Tsu'Tey manages to take down a good few soldiers, but a few bullets from one guy and down he goes. Killing them seems to be fairly simple for heavily armed soldiers.
    • They're faster than humans, they're much stronger than humans (they can go toe-to-toe with a freaking walker and hold out for a bit) and they know the terrain. The Na'vi got massacred in open warfare, but prior to open conflict the RDA troops were fighting against what was essentially a guerrilla insurgency, and the Na'vi have already shown that they would be a nightmare to fight in a guerrilla war. In a one-on-one fight or in a patrol ambush, the Na'vi could probably massacre the RDA soldiers.
    • In addition, any sane military commander who is up against an opponent powerful enough to kill your men at a five to one ratio in close quarters would consider said enemy dangerous and "hard to kill."
      • No shit. Sure, Tsu'tay died as fast as anyone else once bullets actually hit him, but let's remember that he died attacking an entire squad of soldiers by himself, armed with a sharpened stick vs. machine guns, and still managed to kill all but one of the soldiers before he died. That's just goddamn frightening.
      • Also, note that the single most badassed human alive in that universe, in a 15-foot mecha, is beaten down by two Na'vi. Any race that can fight mecha with their bare hands is a race for whom 'hard to kill' is a massive understatement.
        • Please note that these two Na-Vi killed the driver, not destroyed or rendered inoperational the AMP. And that only happened because AMPs had a glass canopy which is quite fine for civilian operation, but wouldn't do any good on combat vehicles. Of course we do not know what would happen if AMPs had a fully armoured cabin, and it does look cool with glass canopy. Rule of Cool in its purest.
        • Rated well enough to stop the best weaponry the Na'vi can throw at it... when it hits at angles far away from perpendicular to the canopy panel. Look at the scene where they're shooting arrows at the gunships; all the arrows are striking the canopy panels in glancing blows, which make the effective thickness of the panels much greater. When we see the arrows punching through canopies, they're being fired from ikran riders while diving, which increases the arrows' velocity, and they're hitting the canopy panel close to perpendicular, minimizing the effective thickness of the panel, making it easier to penetrate.
        • This point fails to convince me. Ballistas can reach 300, perhaps 400ft at a push, with steel cables and a 4m "bow". But that would be laughed off by any 2008 armour (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O 6 A 7 f Kcoty M). Even if you are doubling its initial speed, improving the angle and praying to Eywa when you're releasing the shaft, I find it hard to believe that it would do any damage on mid or end-21st century armour. Even piercing circa-2008 bulletproof glass seems to be a bit of a stretch to me (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIX 7 K 8 D 0 m FM&feature=related). So yes, if the corporation is attacking with equipment that is over a century old, they might have lost. But if they're using something from the end of the 21st century, I really can't see those arrow shafts getting through any part of the armour. As for being rated well enough, it clearly isn't strong enough to tackle the more exotic wildlife of Pandoria, so I have no idea why they'd consider it "rated perfectly fine".
        • Reread what was written before: rated perfectly fine for the threats they expected to deal with. Somehow, I doubt anyone on the RDA considered they'd be needed to fight off the actual native wildlife, because very few people would or did expect all the native life to suddenly spring up and attack in a concerted, intelligent assault. The AMP units operate as escorts for heavy vehicles for the most part and provide security for the base; they're neither expected nor required to go toe-to-toe with the giant herbivores on the planet.
        • They may have gone with the toughest material they could mass-produce cheaply, accepting that it wasn't perfectly arrowproof, but still a lot cheaper than using a metal cockpit and putting enough cameras on the outside so the driver can still see.
        • Consider this... Modern bullet proof glass is designed to stop bullets. If you continued to improve it's bullet stopping power, a weapon that deals damage solely through it's velocity, eventually it would become more specialized. I like to think that the glass was ridiculously effective at stopping small projectiles moving at high velocities, but had developed a flaw that would allow medium-mass, medium velocity weapons to circumvent the strengths of the glass. E.G. not decelerating quickly enough to prevent the glass from cracking from simple deformation.
        • But in the movie, bullets are seen to penetrate glass (ie. Trudy's escape, final battle), so...it's obviously not bulletproof, and probably not arrow-proof either. Still, a good theory though.
      • The term "hard to kill" entirely depends on what weapons you're armed with. If you have nuclear weapons and are willing to use them nothing really appears hard to kill. When I saw him say that I assumed he meant that toe-to-toe humans sucked against the Na'vi, and the appropriate response was to bring a lot of firepower and be prepared. Also I too saw the AMPS as construction equipment first and military tools second. One assumes the alternative to a glass canopy is a shit ton of cameras then?
      • Glass canopy? Something with superhuman strength had to hit that canopy repeatedly, with a giant armor-steel bayonet (remember, Jake had to use Quaritch's own mecha gun to break the thing with) before it even cracked. That's some seriously bulletproof "glass" there.
      • Also also, the Colonel says that the Na'vi's skeletons are made of a naturally-occurring carbon fiber. This explains how they were able to take a beating from a giant mecha and some of the falls they did and walk away unscathed.
      • It's also probably worth pointing out that Tsu'tay fell out of the ship. There's no indication that the gunshot wounds alone would have killed him.
        • Interestingly enough, Tsu'tey actually survives the fall in a deleted scene. Then Lyle Wainfleet comes along and cuts off his ethernet ponytail.
      • If nothing else, he wasn't saying they were physically hard to kill but rather that on a soldiering level, they're hard to kill. They not superhumanly better physically, but they have the advantage in terms of homefield advantage, guerilla tactics, and for most of the movies, the humans are 'stuck' on the defensive and have to protect assets. As well, the na'vi have freedom of mobility and supplies. They can eat anywhere, climb the trees, and work with native materials. So they're hard to kill in the sense that you can't expect an easy fight not that they shrug off bullets while walking towards you.
  • Note too that most modern militarizes do not consider technology to be an advantage in and of itself. It simply makes what you already have better; you give a tank to untrained recruits and they're simply not as good as trained veteran. Weapons don't make a soldier - training does. A weapon is merely a tool, whether it's a Na'vis bow and arrow or a soldier's gun. As well, hard to kill does not necessarily mean physical toughness but simply capabilities and abilities; fighting insurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq is hard for this reason - it's not that rebels can take more bullets but because they're hard to target.
    • "Whatever happens, we have got / The Maxim gun, and they have not." -- Hilaire Belloc
      • And? MGs don't win wars any more than tanks no matter what sort of quotes you want to quote. It's still a matter of people and tactics. The na'vi have home field advantage, the RDA is on the defensive, and the na'vi have everything to lose. The na'vi have every luxury that Q does not have other than technology. Q may gain a momentary advantage but in the long run, even if he earns initial success, he's still commanding upwards of 300 against an entire planet's worth of warriors. And he doesn't have the advantages Leonidas had (or the oft forgotten additional 700 non-Spartan warriors).
        • Are you completely unaware of how much repeating rifles and maxim guns absolutely won wars against people that didn't have them (probably mostly in british hands)? How about the zulu war or indeed any colonial war againt indigenous populations? I don't think you can come up with a single example where someone with such huge technical superiority has been defeated by a lesser armed foe. In modern terms I'd say that the US training advantage compared to the Iraqi army's training is of much lesser importance than the technical advantage. Do take time to look at the losses for the US side vs the Iraqi side during the actual fighing. I'd bet that the US kills 10 insurgents or more for every lost soldier but I haven't looked at the numbers so I'm sticking to the military engagements. It doesn't matter how well you cover your sector or how good your marksmanship is if someone drops a JDAM on you. It also doesn't matter how well you can form phalanxes or how courageous you are if you're up against machine guns or sufficient numbers of repeating rifles.
          • There have certainly been cases where 'inferior' foes have been 'superior' foes. And the strength of insurgents is not the technology or lack thereof. It's everything else. Sure, the US drops 20,000 rounds to kill a single insurgent and that's great. But all it takes is one IED to wipe out a convoy. The funny thing about technology is that it's not a pyramid of power. There aren't technological levels. If you have a machine gun and you're up against a machine gun, that doesn't mean much, after all. This is the reason special forces are valuable; not because they can throw big guns at you but because their effectiveness lies beyond the power of technology and combat. Now, this is -not- saying that technology isn't useful or even advantageous. But it takes more than just a fancy weapon to win a fight. That's what Q wants to impress; don't rely on your gun, don't be fooled into thinking that just because you have a mech that you're invincible, don't think that you've got an army behind you with all kinds of support available. If you give them the benefit of an advantage, it will come back to kill you. If you're stuck out there, you're in trouble. Trust your training not your gut and emotions because those will get you killed.
          • To wit, remember that the na'vi number in the thousands if not more. The humans have maybe a few hundred. Even with things like gun emplacements (which take time to set up and are limited). The na'vi can win by attrition and numbers if nothing else. Certainly the 'win' would be highly Pyhrric no matter who won, but that's kind of the point.
  • Colonel Quaritch told the new recruits the 'hard to kill' thing during a general brief upon their first arrival. It's not inconceivable that he was trying to put them in the right mindset by sounding very scary.
    • Or, for that matter, that he didn't want them to assume a Na'vi warrior is down for the count, merely because they'd done enough damage to drop a human soldier. All of their previous combat experience is against other humans, after all, and Na'vi are a good deal tougher than what they're used to fighting.

So the fields from the floating rocks stop simple, military-grade radar from working but allow a direct mind link to work unhindered?

  • Different tech reacts in different ways.
  • But at one point after they move the mobile uplink shelter into the mountains, we see the occupants of the shelter talking with someone back at the main post over a video screen. Whatever jams the sensors should also jam the "normal" comms presumably used by the vidscreen, and if they had comms technology that could get through the jamming you should be able to use that for sensors also. Doh.
    • Point to point laser transcievers could easily pull that off. Beam the signal to a satellite or a transceiver rig set up on one of the mountains, have that beam it back to the base. Easy-peasy.
  • Wait a sec, how does the signal from the floaty rocks reach elsewhere? We are told that the signal is sent through bio-pathways, or nerves or something, but theres a lot of air between the rocks and the ground.
    • Look more closely at the rocks. There are vines and roots connecting them to lower rocks.
  • When Jake's avatar gets lost in the woods early on in the film, why can't they try and locate him by tracing the communications link?
    • The jungle likely interfered with it, and you can't simply track someone via radio if the radio isn't working or they're not transmitting.
      • And yet in the final battle we see Norm on the ground communicating with Jake who's flying up in the mountains. Clearly there's nothing interferring with the signal. I would give you that he wouldn't necessarily be trackable unless the radio was active. Also I'm not even sure Jake has one - Grace does, but there's no indication that Norm or Jake also have one.
      • There's a difference between homing in on a signal and simply picking up a transmission. Anyone in range and on the proper channel could pick out a radio transmission easily, but it's a lot harder to home in on a specific signal's source.
      • Maybe they did try homing in on his communicator, or calling him on it. The problem comes in when the person you are attemprting to talk to or track are no longer with their communicator, which Jake clearly was by the time he got out of the river.
        • I assumed that his communicator simply hadn't survived the river.
        • Then how the fsck did he maintain his connection to his avatar? It's basically the same system as The Surrogates, right? 22nd century Wi-fi? If he can connect to his avatar, so can his handlers!
          • At least explain what this supposed system is for those of us who who haven't read the work in question - but to be honest, I doubt it is if you think water will suddenly cause the connection to be lost. Later on, with Neytiri, Jake is swimming. Neither can anyone else connect to his avatar, that was the entire point Jake was hired to take Tom's place in the first place, as they were identical twins.

Jake did originally have one (Grace uses it when he first disturbs the 'angtsik), and he still had his earpiece (which seems to have the microphone integrated into that) when being chased by the palulukan, but he loses it when he lands in the river. Anyway, tracking a signal requires more sophisticated equipment to measure the strength and/or approximate directionality, and preferably form multiple points at once. They would obviously have tried calling him on it, but he wouldn't have been able to respond while being chased, then afterwards, the earpiece was probably sitting at the bottom of the river.

          • Word of God says that the Avatars work using quantum entanglement with no electronics whatsoever. I doubt the EM field would interfere with that.
      • Lost his communicator, not lost his connection with the Avatar. That clearly works on some very different system than a radio would. And no, it's not "basically the same system as The Surrogates", and there's no reason to assume so.
  • On a slightly different note... How does anything electro-mechanical even stay in the air in the flying mountains? If there's unobtanium in any quantity in the vessel, it should start heating up like crazy and/or trying to levitate to its resting point (basically, like the other mountains on a smaller scale). If there isn't, then surely the motor controls, the directions electronics and -every other function in the helis/ships that relies on electricity- should start malfunctioning.
    • The 'totally unable to use electronics' repeatedly mentioned in the movie seemed to amount to 'occasionally flickers slightly but otherwise works perfectly'. Missiles were curving after things, so they were obviously steering, even if doing it poorly. IR would work, but it had been said 'no missile lock'...
    • All the human electronic equipment is hardened. They can't use electronic sensors because of the massive levels of interference, but the smaller aircraft were selected for capacity to stay in the air in the flux vortex. The Dragon gunship, being a 22nd century war machine, is presumably hardened to resist EMP just like modern fighter jets except moreso. The shuttle is intended to enter Pandora's magnetosphere.

I Choose to Stay if you're human is fine, but...

Um, HOW on earth could Norm and Max stay behind on Pandora if all the humans are gone AND all the tech support to live on a world where you can't breathe the air is gone? If they could swap into a Na'vi body, sure, but Max never had one (and presumably the humans aren't going to supply more now) and Norm's avatar body got killed. How on earth are they going to live there?

  • Fewer people in Hell Gate means more resources for those that are left, especially breathable air. Maybe there's a handful of Pandoran foods that humans can eat, and maybe the protein food can be grown indefinitely (or if Dr. Lovecraft was a truly mad bastard scientist he would've created Plants to simulate whatever food they need). It might also be possible to grow another Avatar body for Norm in five years, and maybe even one for Max.
    • Supply runs could potentially be kept up to Pandora, if funded by universities, scientific institutions, or governments, especially if anyone takes interest in studying the planet, which the network of biolinks would result in a heartfelt "yes" by most of the scientific community.
      • Given the extreme cost in getting to Pandora - only the $20m/kg mineral makes it worthwhile (the very same mineral that is required for use in spaceships for which the supply has just been shut down), it is highly unlikely that any mere universities or institutions could launch a mission back there.
      • You'd be shocked at what kind of money a scientific institution can throw around, especially with government backing.
        • True, there is LHC.
      • The hometree is now a lifeless wasteland. A lifeless wasteland on top of a huge unobtainium source, and the only humans left on the planet are trusted. There's no reason the Na'vi wouldn't let them mine some of for nonviolent purposes. Well, aside from being total jerks, but it's suggested that the film ends well, so I doubt that's a problem.
        • It's not a lifeless wasteland. The tree burned but that hardly renders the place uninhabitable. Forest fires, after all, happen naturally and are a good/natural part of nature. While the na'vi would need a new home, there's little support that life (especially given that the planet is alive) wouldn't simply heal over any damage there.
      • Not to mention Norm's Avatar Body is seen fully healed and functional in the scene where the Na'vi are escorting the humans back onto the shuttle.
        • I thought that on my first viewing too, but it is actually a different Avatar wearing a similar shirt. Norm is shown standing next to Max, wearing a rebreather.
        • It's possible but indeterminable from what we saw that Norm's avatar is still alive; he got shot in the shoulder, which is not necessarily fatal, if he got medical treatment. However, if his avatar was recovered and treated, it would still take time to heal, and I would expect that the avatar wouldn't have been up and around soon enough for Norm to be linking to it for other than basic self-maintenance tasks by the time of the departure scene. His avatar is likely to be dead, but there was enough vagueness to allow for it to return in the sequel.
    • Are we really sure that breathable air is that limited a resource? One possibility is that the breather masks are filter masks, in which case they last as long as there is a supply of filters - and filters can be cleaned. If not, then the humans probably have a processing station or two somewhere which extracts breathable air from the atmosphere of Pandora, and as long as the power lasts, they are going to be fine.
      • The Avatar wiki tells us that the masks are indeed just filtration devices - Pandora's atmosphere has just as much oxygen as Earth's.
  • Depending on cost, it may not be as unreachable as it seems. For something that could change almost every field of study, most universities would likely jump at the chance. Harvard University has an endowment of 36 billion dollars alone. Yale has 22 billion while Stanford as 17 billion. There are dozens of universities in the US with over a billion. Outside the US, there are of course many more. With the additionof charitable foundations and government funding, it would dwarf the resources of most any corporation... assuming you could get everyone to work together.
  • I decided to assume that humans left enough tech to keep Hell's Gate operational at least for while, not just for Max and Norm, but for the Avatar pilots. I also decided they can still grow new avatars for Max and Norm and any other good human that didn't happened to have screentime.
    • The existing avatar operators could have just got the Jake treatment, assuming they chose to stay, and not follow the RDA's exile -- but new avatars are very expensive and take about five years to mature, so they wouldn't be able to just grow another one for Norm after his previous one got killed. However, assuming at least some scientists decided to follow the RDA and leave their avatars behind, and assuming the Eywa-transplant procedure isn't subject to the same strict synchronization requirements, Max and Norm could just have been transplanted into one of the leftover avatars. That's a pretty big assumption, though.
      • Oh come on, let me optimistic! The similarities to real world atrocities make the movie depressing enough, can't I have at least this one?
  • Not just the other avatars would have stayed, it is very likely the other scientists did (Max is proof of that).

Where were the other Leonopteryxes? (the Toruk in Na'Vi)

The one Jake tamed couldn't possibly be the only one in the region... When mother nature was summoning all the animals to attack the gunships, a few more of those could have been very useful! It could summon hundreds of animals, it shouldn't have a problem calling some Leonopteryxes even if they were a little farther away!

  • Large predators tend to have a wide-ranging territory, and generally other predators tend to naturally respect that territory and stay out of it. It's not surprising that the biggest predator on the food chain - an airborne one, too - would have a very wide-ranging territory. That and I also wouldn't be surprised if the RDA had a "kill the Leonopteryxes on sight" policy that that kept their numbers down around the region.
  • I was under the assumption that it was simply the "alpha" Banshee...
    • Yes, sure. The Alpha Banshee that always hunts alone and kills (and eats!) its flock of Banshees at random. Doesn't sound convincing to me.
  • I remember seeing a couple of Leonopteryxes among the flock of Banshees that attacks the gunships.

What were the human ground troops expecting to achieve?

The final attack by the human forces is a bombing run. Since the Na'vi have no anti-air capabilities apart from banshees (which are themselves airborne and therefore not vulnerable from the ground) why did the humans send ground forces at all, instead of using the man- and fire-power to bolster the anti-air defences on top of the shuttle/bomber?

  • Redundancy, which any good military commander uses. If the air attack fails, they can instead assault on the ground and, if that battle was anything to go by, the humans have an even more lopsided advantage on the ground. And they can only cram so many men on top of the bomber.
  • Also they appeared to already be using all of the airships that they had, but had men to spare. Might as well put them to use.
  • Committing his ground forces makes sense in light of the Colonel's objective to deter the enemy from attacking Hell's Gate. This implies two goals: 1) destroy their spiritual shrine to demoralize the Na'vi and 2) destroy the Na'vi's ability to attack Hell's Gate which means defeating their ground forces.

What's the deal with the waterfalls?

  • How can you have a waterfall on an island floating above clouds? There were no glaciers there.
    • Perhaps the rock there is like a sponge, sucking in huge amounts of moisture from the air and rain, and the waterfalls are constant outflow of this water.
    • This is almost certainly a Rule of Cool at work. There isn't anything up there that could account for * that* much water runoff.
      • I wouldn't be so sure of that. The mountain is quite large compared to the waterfall, and the local climate is a rain forest, which gets about as much precipitation as a climate can get. If the geography of the mountain is such that most of the precipitation that lands on the mountain flows out in that direction, it's not completely obvious that there isn't enough water to maintain that waterfall.
      • I'll concede the point. Could be a rain storm just went through. It is a jungle after all.
  • Also, if a floating mountain is at gravitational equilibrium, not rising or sinking, with a given amount of water, and that water is running off the mountain in a river, then shouldn't the mountain be floating upwards at a rate equal to the rate of water loss? Think of a hot air balloon dumping ballast.
    • As I understand them the mountains use some configuration where the Meissner Effect causes them to stay up. You essentially have a balance between gravity (approximately constant acceleration on that scale) and the repulsive electromagnetic forces (probably following an inverse square law w.r.t the unobtainium deposits). My key point is that the rocks do not float, but are in a stable position. Of course, the waterfalls would still cause the rocks to lift a bit, but the rocks are probably still much heavier than the water.

Plants that don't catch fire

Ignoring how there's fire on a different atmosphere like Pandora anyways(there's another Just Bugs Me about it above), when Jake is walking around with the torch...why doesn't anything catch fire? The flames and sparks touch plants yet they clearly stay...un-burnedish. I thought maybe the plants weren't affected by fire or something, but the rest of the movie clearly proved that idea wrong. I'm going to hope I was seeing things and need a new eyeglass perscription.

  • There's a slight difference between a simple torch and incendiary missiles. Jungles tend to be wet and fire resistant, so it's a lot harder to set a tree ablaze in a jungle using a torch when compared with doing so using flamethrowers and incendiary missiles.
  • Plants are full of water. The torch wasn't burning in any one area long enough to heat away enough water to catch the plants on fire.
    • Yeah, while Smokey the Bear's message is important, you're seriously overestimating just how easy it is to set a forest fire. Setting a living plant which, as noted, is full of the stuff that puts out fire, on fire is hard as hell to do. When you make an actual camp fire, you generally have to make sure the wood you're using is really dry, or that the fire is hot enough to evaporate what water is in it, or else it just won't burn. Even if Jake left his torch leaning against the bark of a tree for an entire day, it would most likely just leave a little scorch mark. You need a lot of dry kindling to start a fire of any significant size, unless you're using gasoline or napalm.
    • And all of this is assuming that the plants on Pandora are as easily flammable as earth plants. Considering the standard sentient species has natural carbon fibre armor, I'm betting the plants are pretty hardcore too.
  • Something touching fire for a second doesn't necessarily mean it will instantly catch on fire and/or explode. As anyone who has tried to start a fire with damp wood can tell you, it need to be dry or heavily exposed to properly catch. There's a reason people collect dead wood from the forest floor to start fires and that even when placed on a fire, green wood will take a long time to catch fire.
    • This troper can vouch for that. Damp ANYTHING dosnt like to burn. living trees even less so.

The Floating Rocks.

  • If the Unobtanium is the stuff that makes the floating rocks float, and they're only connected to the ground by plant matter, why not just fly a small aircraft up there-- it CAN be done, Trudy does it-- take a chainsaw to the vines and then just pick it up from where it drifts off into space with all the spacecraft they have? For that matter, why isn't there an entire asteroid belt full of the stuff? And moreover, if they're floating and have what effectively amounts to their own gravity, what's stopping anyone from just tying a rope around a small one and just towing the damn thing home? This could have solved a bunch of problems.

Human Negotiator: Hey, Na-Vi, this totally non-sentient, non-living rock is super-valuable to us, and we picked out this one that doesn't have any of your super-sacred flying hunting beasts living on it. Can we have it?
Na-Vi: We're basically perfect and there's nothing important or valuable to us about that rock, so because it would make us look like assholes to say no, we will say yes.

  • It won't drift into space because it isn't antigravity. It's called the Meissner effect and a property of superconductors exposed to a magnetic field. Not every rock is anchored with vines anyway.
    • Only, it's exactly how it started against native Americans, and you know how it ended. "Hey, can we have that little rocky spot? And that one too? And that one again? And what about that one? Fuck, let's move your village elsewhere, it's on my gold mine.". Beside, flying rocks are Banshees' nests.
  • Not all of the floating rocks are attached.
  • Unobtanium is a normal temperture supercondutor, the mountains are floating on Pandora's magnetic field. Magnetic levitation by means of supercondutivity has some odd properties, one of which is that the distance can be "programmed". Once set, the superconductor resists moving closer or further from the magnetic source. So it's not the plants that are holding the mountains in place, it's the nature of supercondutivity. Now exactly how the mountains got "programmed" at their current elevation is a head scratcher.
    • It's mentioned in the associated fiction that they did try mining the mineral from the floating mountains, but there was some horrific accident that scared them off from trying it again.
    • Here's a theory: The temperature on Pandora used to be higher, at some point above the critical temperature of unobtanium. Suppose there are normal (non-floating) mountains in this climate; then global cooling drops the atmospheric temperature down to where it is today. The unobtanium in the mountains is now suspended at its current height, and then over millions of years erosion causes the other rocks to wash away, leaving only the unobtanium ore, floating at the same altitude it was at millions of years before.
      • Of course the whole idea of floating mountains is ludicrous, because even with an ideal superconductor, the magnetic field necessary to suspend objects as massive as mountains is enough to rip the iron out of your blood, not to mention crushing all the helicopters and mechas into the ground.

Giant Monsters

  • They have to break down trees every time they make a territorial show, and can't fit through trees when they hunt. How is being that large efficient?
    • They rarely end up in such a pursuit situation because Na'vi avoid them, and their normal prey are hexapedes, who they can easily catch and eat. The forest also includes numerous more open areas.
    • Can't fit through trees? Jake slipped through small spaces as a tactical move. There is plenty of room for the creatures to run, it's not like the entire forest is tiny spaces that only Jake can fit through.
  • No idea. Animals that big usually live in plains enviroments. I supposed they were so in love with the Alien Animal designs that they didn't consider how this would reaslitically work.
  • Pandora's low gravity and hyperdense air?
    • Biology fail.
  • Or maybe they're plains animals and there's some plains just nearby, but these ones have gotten a bit lost, or are on the run from predators, or even the human bulldozers.
  • The titanotheres (the big hammerhead dinosaur-like things) are probably herbivores; to them, the trees are food. The carnivores are mostly small enough to slip between the trees. Even so, the big herbivores probably shouldn't be in the jungle all the time, so that is a valid question.
    • I thought the more significant question would be if the dominant creatures tear up every tree in their wake when they hunt, how are there any trees left?
      • This is Pandora we're talking about. Those "trees" the titanotheres were knocking down right and left were underbrush. In that jungle, the emergents are the size of skyscrapers.
        • Doesn't change the fact that they are highly unwieldly and ill-suited for their environment.
        • Maybe. It may have also simply strayed off a better worn path into dense growth. Elephants that live in the jungle do that in the real world - they have set paths and plains worn down by generations of travel.
  • It really bugs me that the super panther thing (the one that didn't follow him off the cliff) had the blatantly sampled T-Rex call from Jurassic Park. They could have at least mixed it a little.

Most hostile environment? Really?

Dr. Grace says, "So you just figured you'd come here, to the most hostile environment known to men, with no training of any kind, and see how it went?" Really? The MOST hostile environment? Has Grace ever heard of the bottom of the ocean, where thousands of atmospheres will crush you into a pulp? Or the surface of Venus, with its lakes of boiling lead? Or how about the surface of a planetoid out in the Oort Cloud, where temperatures approaching absolute zero can flash freeze your entire body in seconds? Pandora has an atmosphere that humans can survive in without protection for a minute or so. I'd say that sounds pretty damn inviting, compared to some other environments known to man.

  • Because when humans talk, we always, without fail, say the absolute truth.
    • It's not just a matter of her telling the absolute truth, it's a matter of a scientist making a grossly inaccurate statement about her particular area of expertise. It would be like an expert on astrophysics saying "The surface of the Sun is the hottest place in the universe," or a paleontologist saying "Dinosaurs were the largest living beings ever in the history of the world." She should know better.
    • She wasn't trying to be scientifically accurate, though. She was talking to a grunt who wouldn't be interested in the accurate details anyway, and trying to make a point. It's called hyperbole, and is a very common tool for making points. She was just saying "This place is extremely dangerous, and you came here entirely unprepared. You are stupid." End of story, let it go.
    • Her use of the word "environment", in this context, may have been in the narrow sense of "conditions humans can endure at all".
    • It could also have encompassed the entire place - not just conditions but also wildlife and such (after all, pretty much everything in Pandora wants to kill you). But probably, just exaggeration to get the point across.
  • Keep in mind, she says "hostile" environment, which generally means actual active hostility, not inhabitability. Obviously she's referring to the wildlife's danger toward humans, not the breathability of the air.


It bugs me that the texture map for Polyphemus looks like they just opened a map of Jupiter in Photoshop, adjusted Hue by 180 degrees and called it a day. Couldn't they have done anything to make it look less obviously like Jupiter, like putting the spot on the equator? Some of the original concept art turned Jupiter upside down, so the spot was in the northern hemisphere -- at least that would have been a slight improvement.

  • The texture map is definitely different aside from the spot- Jupiter has more obvious, narrow banding on it and the spot is smaller and located further into the southern hemisphere. Polyphemus is also a considerable amount smaller than Jupiter. Not disputing that it resembles Jupiter- it does- but there's some cosmetic differences.
    • Putting the spot further into the southern hemisphere is just a matter of applying Spherize on the vertical axis. I can still picture exactly what I'd have to do in Photoshop to turn Jupiter into Polyphemus. Was there any animation in the clouds on Polyphemus at all? You probably wouldn't be able to see it in Real Life, but even 2010: The Year We Make Contact was able to achieve more interesting cloud effects for Jupiter 25 years ago. (The increased detail in Polyphemus' texture maps vs. 2010's Jupiter can be accounted for by Cassini having a better camera than Voyager.)
  • The fact that a gas giant orbits close enough to its star to have a habitable moon is a huge problem. Blue and green gaseous planets have lots of volatiles like methane and ammonia that are blown off by a combination of the solar wind and simple heating. The planet should be a dark brown "hot Jupiter". But then it wouldn't be such a pretty blue. I long for the grimdark spires of hiveworld Earth instead of the sickeningly pretty Pandora. God I hate cute.
    • Not to mention that gas giants like that have intense magnetospheres that would kill an unsheilded man on the surface of the inner moons. I assume that Pandora must generate its own magnetic feild to counteract this, or Cameron just didn't think about that.
    • Emphasis on 'unshielded'. Pandora's magnetic field is significantly stronger than Earth's. Also, gas giants ARE theorised to be able to exist in the habitable zone.... our solar system is not representative of the universe.
      • It's not the magnetic field itself that kills you, it's the fact that it concentrates high-energy particles from the solar wind. But Pandora does have its own magnetic field, because that's what enables unobtainum-rich mountains to float. I hope we can see the arctic regions of Pandora sometime in the next two movies -- the auroras must be stunning.
    • We have located a couple of extrasolar gas giants that probably lie within or near their parent stars habitable zone. HD 69830 d is an example of a Neptunian world sitting there. Gliese 581 d is another world that, while perhaps not a gas giant, is still vastly heavier (7 to 14 times heavier, in fact) than our own world sitting in such a zone.
    • According to the Manual, the magnetic storms in Pandora's upper atmosphere and incredibly dangerous and deadly. The extra-strong field provided by the Unobtanium keeps the moon sustainable for life.
    • I think the point about Polyphemus' color qualifies as Did Not Do the Research / Rule of Cool, so I'll add it as such in the main entry.
  • And every view of it shows the same aspect. Isn't Pandora meant to be, like, in orbit around it? Unless it's in Polyphemeostationary orbit we should sometimes see different bits of the planet.
    • I can only remember three scenes in the movie with Polyphemus in it. And one was in daylight, so the colours were bleached out. That would only be a problem if there were, say 10 or more scenes that featured Polyphemus.
    • Bit of a coincidence though that the moon is in exactly the same spot in relation to the big blue storm that it is clearly visible on the same part of the planet's surface in 3 shots over 3 months. Just plain lazy.

Glow in the dark wildlife

How's that an advantage from an evolutionary standpoint? Prey animals would stand out in the night like beacons and predators would never be able to sneak up on them. It's the biological version of a Highly-Conspicuous Uniform.

  • Just speculating here but prey animals would be highly conspicuous to not only predators but the predators of predators and predators could be highly conspicuous for group identification if pack hunters or prey alluring if ambush hunters
  • Plenty of real life fishes and insects use bioluminescence to attract mates. Those mobile flaps and frills which so many Pandoran animals have on their faces could be used to cover their luminous patches when stealth is called for. Or herbivores could switch off their glow with suppressive enzymes if they're feeling scared, the same as a human would get goosebumps.
  • This troper also assumed that in an environment with such widespread luminescence, a patch of darkness may act as more of a beacon than the seemingly showy alternative, rather like how a tiger is pathetically obvious against a white backround but hidden in grass.
    • Assuming everything glows the same colour. But that'd be boring, wouldn't it?
  • Also, some species (prey and predator) are intentionally showy to show off their danger (poison barbs, poison flesh, etc). Other species with none of these sometimes develop mimicry skills so that other creatures think they're dangerous when they're not.

Why does Pandora baby its natives so much?

  • Why does the movie go to such great lengths to glorify what are, essentially, a race of spoiled children? "Look at the Na'vi! Why can't we adore nature as much as they do?" Maybe because good 'ol planet Earth didn't give us flight, or the internet right off the bat. Seriously, if trees sprouted iPhones and wrestling a cow would allow you a means of air travel FOR LIFE, I think we all would respect nature just fine. But no, we have to do things the hard way, making all these great things ourselves over thousands of years of development, while those blue-skinned sapce-jocks just screw around in the woods all day having super-duper space sex, dancing, and generally not actually giving any effort towards developing their society.
    • Pandora does not baby its natives. The animals still have minds of their own, and some of those animals are predators. A large number of those predators are far bigger than the Na'vi, or travel in groups, and will actively prey on them--Neytiri was scared shitless when the Thanator came up, and it had to wave its queue at her before she realized that it didn't want to eat her. And the banshees are quite clearly a threat before you mind-link with them; Neytiri got REALLY worried when Jake's fight with his banshee took longer than a few minutes. It's a given that some potential riders get killed because they couldn't bond in time, got too wrapped up in showing off, or were just unlucky (like Jake nearly was). Also note that there weren't many others: Neytiri was the guide, and there were about five or six prospective banshee riders in all. BANSHEES ARE FUCKING DRAGONS. Just because you CAN mind-link with one doesn't mean everyone qualifies, or even wants to get their own. You can just as easily hitch a ride with a friend, since they wouldn't mind anyway.
    • Nope, every Na'vi warrior has to get one in that clan. It's a rite of passage. Alternatively: just because the Na'vi life is somewhat idyllic does not make it easy. It takes skill to track down prey, score a clean kill (both in marksmanship and religion), and bring it back to the village. They make it look easy because they've been doing it for who knows how many years in their history.
      • To be fair, not everyone in the society is necessarily a warrior. It's certainly likely that there are non-warriors who simply go through something else related to what they are to do. Remember that Jake notes he's a Marine (in a roundabout way). That is, a warrior in his own culture. They would likely treat him as such and induct him as a warrior in theirs as opposed to say... a spiritual guide.

They never said giant brain.

They never said the planet was a giant brain. All else forgiven if only that one sentence was included. **** not babying the audience, it's really annoying me hard.

  • Uh...what? The trees on Pandora are like the neuron cells within our brains, and they send messages to each other the same way those neuron cells send synapses. So in a way, it is like a giant brain.
  • Yes, I understood that, so did most people who are reasonably intellegent. I just wanted them to actually **** edy **** en say it.
    • Grace described the neural network.


So the Na'vi have to climb up to the Banshee rookery to bond with one of them. This is all fine and dandy, but how exactly DO THEY CLIMB UP A FLOATING MOUNTATIN?

  • They climb the vines.
  • So...uh...did you even WATCH the movie? You know, that complete sequence where Jake does in fact climb all the way to the rookery with three other Na'vi?
  • Yeah, I saw that clip again. Sorry for that.

Pandoran Species on Earth

In the Activist Survival Guide, one section discusses the effect of Pandoran species on earth and how we shouldn't bring them here, citing invasive Earth species that have caused ecological destruction. Seems sane, right? However, this is immediately declaimed as "lies by the RDA" and says that we should bring them to Earth even if they destroy our environment. There are four problems with this. The first is, that throughout the book, there are examples of Pandoran plants ALREADY on earth use for bioremediation purposes. The second is that we have already tried using Earth species for such things, and every time it's failed miserably. The third is that we would have no idea how such plants would fare on Earth. The fourth is that the plants tend to have tendencies to explode/poison/otherwise kill animals around them... so why is it a good idea to bring them here?

  • because Earth doesn't have a working environment any more. Also, explode and poison? didnt see that in the movie. Considering Earth has no forests it might be a good idea to look for a replacement, though they might want to skip the dangerous plants.

Native Animals on Pandora

  • Anyone else bugged by the fact that on another planet with a different atmosphere and biological chemistry would have life evolve into animals extremely reminiscent of cats, dogs, rhinos, pterodactyls, and most unlikely humans? I mean, it's possible for one of the things to develop, but for every piece of wildlife to have an Earth counterpart? The chances are next to 0. Same goes for plants.
    • Like another troper has said: "Hi there, welcome to science fiction." Except in this case, it goes beyond facial cues to pretty much everything on Pandora. You don't get the same reaction to something in a movie if you can't relate to it.
    • On the flip side though the chances of everything being completely different is likely close to zero too. And, barring other stuff, it's the same chance for any point in between. Given the number of species of creatures on Earth and assuming Pandora has more or less the same number, it'd mean that for any given number of same to different, it would be very very very low. However, adding up of possibilities of "Nothing at all is the same" to "At least one thing is similar" gets you a really big percentile chance of having at least 1 thing similar. Here's a simple example if it helps. Say there are 10 possible outcomes, 1 of of which is "Nothing", 1 of which is "everything" and the others some equal possibility. It's 1 in 10 likely that you have nothing but it's 9 in 10 that you have something other than nothing. Extend this out to say 6 billion possibilities (likely more if we're talking about combinations). And being on an alien planet would probably have very little impact on the probabilities as that's basically saying "It must be completely different because it should be completely different" - there are radically different environments here on Earth and yet we can identify similar organs in such extremophiles. They may be as weird as they can get and completely different than any other lifeform but they have basic properties we can identify. Note that this is true if the qa question of likeness (ie "What are the odds of there being something like an ant on Pandora and on Earth" or more accurately, "For any two given creatures on Earth and Pandora, what are the odds that they share any two given features") versus pure biological conjecture ("What sort of creature would develop in an environment like Pandora?"). Getting back to the main JBM, if the question is/assertion is -should- there be starfish aliens... and in that case, assuming evolution, some things would just be impractical or worthless regardless of environment. Brains and intelligence for instance take up a heck of a lot of energy for widely varying results so having 6 heads on everything would in all likelihood be an incredible wasteful mutation. We can assume that certain things are optimal (or better suited anyway) - hands for instance as manipulators versus say bloby psuedopods or tentacles. And things like say... twenty arms would after a point result in something incredibly clumsy and require immense coordination for simple tasks for not a significant gain. And, other things would be bad mutations purely due to physical limitations. On the other hand, a valid question would be... why are all the same biological niches filled by the exact same things (ie what are the odds that, of the, say 6 billion species, that the bipedal humanoids with these specific features and appearances similar to our own became the dominant intelligent species)? :)
      • Short answer: There's no reason for them to be different any more than there is for them to be the same. Saying "It's an alien planet therefore it must be alien" is not actually meaningful without rationale.
    • When numbers get really, really large some strange things can happen. If the universe is infinitely large (and therefore has infinitely many planets) the chances of having a planet with organisms similar to Earth is actually certain. Likewise having a planet that is completely dissimilar to Earth. However, since the universe is expanding (according to the most accepted scientific theories) even if we travel at the speed of light there are some planets that we simply could never catch up to and visit. This means that the number of planets we can potentially visit is finite and thus the probability of us visiting a planet similar to our own goes down, but is still possible.

It's mentioned that the gravity on Pandora is significantly lower than the gravity on earth...

So why aren't the Contractors super powered killing machines? There seems to be evidence that they exercise to stay at their Earth fighting weight, and if future PSC's are anything like modern ones they'd put in the effort to keep themselves that way. Shouldn't they, despite theie smaller stature, have a retarded high vertical leap and the ability to bat the Na'vi around like rag dolls?

  • I think you're either grossly overestimating the extent that "significantly" means, or you've watched too much DBZ. Just being in less gravity doesn't make you Superman, and however less the gravity is, it's apparently not so much that you notice anyone moving around differently.
  • To be more specific, Pandora is 0.8G but has 1.2 times the air density. Humans waking up on the ISV after 6 years would probably have some mildly atrophied muscles, and the 0.8G will prevent them from building any serious bulk for superhuman abilities. If you take a basketball star and put him a breathable planet with moon gravity, he could jump well over ten feet, until his muscles start diminishing due to less demand for high physical activity. This is why astronauts on extended space missions have to continuously exercise.
  • Plus the fact that the Na'vi are proportionally far stronger than humans.


Where are all the feathers used in the arrows and hair decorations coming from? Their closest bird analogue is a giant reptile thing with no feathers in sight!

  • Just because you don't see a particular feathered animal within the span of the movie doesn't mean a feathered animal doesn't exist in-universe.
  • Also, some of them are actually insect wings, although some are clearly feathers (Eytukan's arrows and Neytiri's necklace)

Scenery Issues

When it's night there are these giant glowing mushrooms, but I didn't see any when it was day?

  • What "giant glowing mushrooms"? Be more descriptive.
  • They glow in the dark, of course.
  • Octoshrooms don't glow. Simple as that.
  • It's called bioluminescence.

The distribution of Unobtainium on Pandora.

  • If Unobtainium is supposed to be so valuable,why wasn't its largest deposit mined first? It's never been shown that any element, anywhere, is only present in a single or a few areas. Not sure of that would even be geologically possible. If Unobtainium's being on Pandora was the result of an asteroid,comet or meteorite strike (a possibility given the few areas that it is distributed in)then logically,wouldn't it also be available in greater recoverable quantities in SPACE near or around Pandora?
    • If the largest was on the other side of Pandora, then it would be impractical. There is a large mine right next to Hell's Gate. As for space, no, it would be subject to re-entry.
  • Unobtanium is reportedly made by a planetary collision combined with a disrupted Pandoran magnetic field, which allowed for the creation of such material on the moon. Yeah, not many of those happen.
    • Ok...so wouldn't that make it a compound rather than an element?Also,if they now what created the compound doesn't that mean they have broken down the ingredients in Unobtainium? And of it's a compound couldn't it be replicated elsewhere cheaper or for the same staggering cost?
    • Yes, it's a compound. Anyone who says it's a element is incorrect. The only time where unobtanium is listed as an element in a canon source is in the "Activist Survival Guide", where a small image within a macro depicted it as element 120. This is completely wrong, it's a mistake on the artists' part. And there's already an entry on the physical properties of unobtanium on this page, so just go look for that.

Pandora as a State of Nature

  • If Eywa has the ability to manipulate the flora and fauna of the moon to the extent shown in the final battle, why is Pandora considered a natural paradise? It has been actively manipulated since Eywa's inception to develop in a certain way, as certainly no terrestrial environment would produce so many potential mutualistic or commensalistic relations amongst its species (the mind links, in our world, would be exposed nervous tissue and an excellent target for pain-inducing or disabling attacks); the best Earth comparison would not be some untamed deep Darkest Africa -style rainforest, but a greenhouse actively cared for and preserved by a divine Gardener, adding cross-bred blooms and removing blighted flowers at Her whims. And does this affect the morality of the movie in any way?
    • Firstly: The flora and fauna are not controlled as such - it's more instinct based on the presumed consequence of the humans' actions. There is little to no control over the vast majority of Pandora's history, and presumably anything direct such as during the battle is essentially completely unheard of. It is perfectly plausible for life to evolve in a more highly-connected state than on Earth. Nothing was added to or removed from Pandora - evolution followed a natural course (it's called convergent evolution, before you complain about that, look it up - there are even examples of unrelated species on Earth with very similar physical forms). Crossbreeding has literally nothing (at all) to do with the evolution of life on Pandora in this context.

Manual vs. Film on Atmosphere

  • The impression generally given in the film is that the atmosphere's mostly made of carbon dioxide-like substances that you can't breath, but won't actively kill you. The manual, on the other hand, specifies that Pandora's atmosphere is >1% hydrogen sulfide. (10,000+ppm) Hydrogen sulfide is a chemical weapon at concentrations less than 500ppm. (The Other Wiki even says that a single breath at 1000ppm causes "instant collapse.") That wouldn't bug me in itself, since alien planets can mostly have whatever atmospheres they like, but the mismatch is rather grating.
    • I got the definite impression that the air was actively toxic. Notably, when the airlock got kicked down, everyone immediately dove for their gas masks. If it were just largely unbreathable, it wouldn't have been too big of a deal because it takes a while for gas to move from lower pressure to higher pressure and the room contained plenty of oxygen at the start. Furthermore, people who actually breath in Pandoran atmosphere pretty much DO collapse instantly. When people go for a minute or so without falling over and trying to cough out their lungs, they're holding their breath or in a large room with a few small holes.
      • That concentration of CO2 and H2S will cause you to lose consciousness very quickly. The pressurization is intended for minor damage only (e.g. the damage to Trudy's Samson and the Dragon in the battle), an open airlock will cause that to be lost very quickly. Honestly though, it's the simple fact that if there's the looming threat of suffocation and poisoning, I think most people would want to get an exopack on as soon as they could.

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