Watch the 1st trailer 'Avatar: The Way of Water' and explore Pandora's exotic reef

After screening during the pre-film trailers for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" over the weekend, the official teaser for director James Cameron's "Avatar: The Way of Water" has now dropped online, and it's a breathtaking plunge back into the wondrous realm of Pandora.

This long-awaited follow-up to 2009's megahit "Avatar" arrives in theaters on Dec. 16 and is the first of four planned sequels that will unspool every two years — on Dec. 20, 2024; Dec. 18, 2026; and Dec. 22, 2028. If you can't wait that long, here's a refresher on the awesome spaceships and vehicles of the first Avatar film.

The sequel "Avatar: The Way of Water" returns to the exotic planet, whose mineral resources and native Na'vi inhabitants are being exploited by a ruthless conglomerate, and where Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) are raising a family in the aquatic reef area of the remote alien world.

The stunning oceans of Pandora are filled with strange alien life in "Avatar: The Way of Water." (Image credit: Disney)

This $250 million sci-fi spectacle is set more than a decade after the turbulent events seen in the first movie. "Avatar: The Way of Water" chronicles the legacy of the Sully family and the inevitable perils that lurk nearby as they struggle to maintain their safety amid tragedies and triumphs with the return of human invaders.

The mostly silent trailer offers Eden-like imagery of Pandora and all its exotic flora and fauna, with a group of tall Na'vi frolicking along the continent's coastline region of Metkayina. Neytiri observes from afar as a group of Na'vi straddle the back of Pandoran banshees soaring high above an aqua-blue ocean, past coral-like rock formations dotted with the lanky, blue-skinned aliens.

The Na'vi's relationship with water appears to take center stage in "Avatar: The Way of Water."  (Image credit: Disney)

The imagery shifts to shots of an industrial complex crowded with new machinery and advanced aircraft before transitioning to gorgeous underwater sequences revealing the serene aquatic environment on Pandora teeming with sea creatures and strange, swaying plant life. From there, the clip cuts to a harrowing scene of Jake and Neytiri trapped in a flooding submerged craft and a lyrical moment of Jake astride a majestic hybrid animal that's equally at home beneath the ocean and in the sky.

"I know one thing," Jake declares in the teaser's only spoken words. "Wherever we go, this family is our fortress."

A glimpse at some of the stunning new ocean life from "Avatar: The Way of Water." (Image credit: Disney)

Produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, "Avatar: The Way of Water" also features Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, Vin Diesel, Kate Winslet, and Sigourney Weaver in a brand-new role.

To remind fans of the franchise's innumerable charms, Disney will re-release the original "Avatar" in theaters on Sept. 23, fortified with updated sound and special effects.

"Avatar: The Way of Water" arrives Dec. 16 in 2D and 3D. For more space movies, see our full list of upcoming sci-fi movies.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.