The blue cat alien can beat

Dark Knight 18
the scar-faced psychopath as AVATAR just passed DARK KNIGHT on the all-time box office list.

Topping the frame with an estimated weekend gross of $36 million for a cume of $552.8 million, 20th Century Fox and James Cameron’s “Avatar” has jumped past Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight” with $533.3 million to become the second highest grossing film ever at the domestic box office.

So now James Cameron has the #1 and #2 top grossing movies of all times. King of the world, indeed. We haven’t really been following the AVATAR Phenomenon here, but Geoff Boucher rounds up all the cults, depressions, deaths, and political conroversies. To be honest, when we saw the movie, we weren’t convinced it was going to go as far as it has — whether you think it’s the same story as DANCES WITH WOLVES, POCAHONTAS, FERNGULLY, LITTLE BIG MAN, or whatever, it is a very popular one, the great white man who learns to live and love from the noble savages. Has there ever really been an outsider who learns the ways of the tribe and then goes on to lead the tribe? It happens in myth quite a bit, but in real life, it usually has to happen by force. Call it a fantasy then — cultural Mary Sue.

Semi comics-related bonus: Jeet Heer talks AVATAR.


  1. Not “Mary Sue” but “White Man’s Burden” in reverse?

    Well, the Dalai Lama is an outsider of sorts… oracles tell where the child can be found, and then that child is trained to lead.

    On a more theoretical POV, isn’t anyone who enters an established society an outsider? All presidents were “outsiders” at one point, and state governors such as Carter and Reagan campaigned as politicians untainted by the influence of the Beltway. Senator-elect Scott Brown is seen as an outsider, yet he has held political offices since 1992.

    Comics related link:

  2. Carter, Reagan and Brown are are still middle aged white men — hardly “outsiders” to our ruling class.

    Ahnuld, with his foreign origina and thick accent comes the closest.

    I’m thinking more of someone like Alexander the Great who exported Greek/Macedonian culture through the ancient world — of course he used conquest not wooing the boss’s daughter.

  3. Hmmm, yes… but take a look at the all-time box office rankings adjusted for inflation:

    Titanic ranks 6th with $940 million, and has only 2/3 the take of Gone With The WInd, which has an adjusted take of $1.5 billion. Star Wars is 2nd with $1.3 billion.

    With $559 million, Avatar ranks 26th and has a lot of catching up to do.

  4. Something just doesn’t seem right that about avatar’s box office, since so much of it is “just” 3D fees.

  5. Mark: DAK’s link also allows you to sort by estimated tickets sold, where Avatar still ranks 26th and has 37% of the number of tickets Gone With the Wind does. With Avatar #1 for 6 weeks already, it’ll be interesting to see where it ends its run. (And those are domestic numbers only, unfortunately, whereas the big story with Avatar is the international draw).

  6. I’m not sure the “White Man’s Burden” even is reversed. Lo! The White Dude must save you! Only this time he does it wearing charming native fashions.

  7. Kate Fitzsimmons said:

    ‘I’m not sure the “White Man’s Burden” even is reversed. Lo! The White Dude must save you! Only this time he does it wearing charming native fashions.’

    I think that barb would be more justified if the main hero did the whole thing by himself, instead of rustling up help from the alien planet as a result of his taking on alien physiology.

  8. While Avatar’s story takes a lot from all of those that you mention, it is most akin to Dune; the previous sci-fi allegory for many of those themes. While I was not even half-way through watching Avatar, I was thinking, “hmm, I wonder what the big bad creature that he’ll have to “connect with” to prove himself and bring the different tribes together will be… Oh, there it is.”

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