This is a response to my past self, who is a naive apologist for James Cameron. You, my past self should get over your old self and realize you just don’t know what is really going on. James Cameron didn’t just cut bacon on the myth story, he most ostensibly ripped off a specific author. Namely Poul Anderson and his story Call Me Joe.
Many fans of Anderson suspect that the story was an important influence on Avatar, and some are calling for Anderson to be credited on the film. And it’s easy to see why.
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.
Maybe, old self, I’m just raging against coincidence. Maybe not. Update: Link to story has some great debates about this in the comments.