Did James Cameron Steal the Avatar Storyline?
Posted 10.27.09 by reelz
A controversy has erupted over whether James Cameron borrowed the plot for his upcoming epic (from a story from the golden age of science fiction) without crediting the author. Although Avatar has been touted as one of the few originals amidst a tidal wave of remakes, the similarities between Cameron's movie and Poul Anderson's now rather obscure 1957 novella Call Me Joe really are striking.
No one expects a movie plot to be completely without influences. In fact, filmmakers have been fairly up front about the fact that Avatar draws on a Pocahontas narrative. But this goes a bit beyond the usual unaccredited borrowing, if the summary of Anderson's book on io9 is any indicator:
Like Avatar, Call Me Joe centers on a paraplegic — Ed Anglesey — who telepathically connects with an artificially created life form in order to explore a harsh planet (in this case, Jupiter). Anglesey, like Avatar's Jake Sully, revels in the freedom and strength of his artificial created body, battles predators on the surface of Jupiter, and gradually goes native as he spends more time connected to his artificial body.
To top it off, the feline creatures on the cover of some copies of the vintage 35-cent paperback look an awful lot like Cameron's blue-skinned alien Na'vi.
No word yet from Anderson's estate on possible legal action. The situation does have a precedent, though. The pugilistic sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison won an out-of-court settlement with Cameron over the ideas behind the Terminator franchise, eventually getting an "inspired-by" credit and a financial settlement.