Avatar’s Approach to Ableism Leaves Much to Be Desired

There’s a lot about Avatar that gets talked about constantly, like its impact on digital 3D technology or its resemblance to classic movies like Dances with Wolves.

An element of the film that goes largely unremarked on, though, is that it technically has a disabled protagonist in the form of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington).

A man paralyzed from the waist down, Sully’s chance to inhabit a Na’vi body where he can move his feet again informs one of the first CGI-heavy scenes in Avatar.

The primary reasons this aspect of the feature doesn’t get talked about a lot is a combination of this character being portrayed by an able-bodied performer and Sully spending much of his screentime in a non-disabled form.

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