Colonel Quaritch's Na'vi Body Is Going To Make Things Weird For Him In Avatar: The Way Of Water

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is finally nearing its release this December after a nearly 12-year wait since the original film's release. As was the case for the original "Avatar" film, James Cameron took his time with the project, developing new technology to make the sequel the way he wanted. With new underwater worlds and creatures to explore, "The Way of Water" is sure to set itself apart from its predecessor with a plethora of new visuals. Aside from new environments and technology, the "Avatar" sequel explores interesting new story points with characters who seemingly met their fate in the original film. 

One such character is the antagonist of the first "Avatar," Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang). Quaritch was an aggressive military leader who drove the Na'vi off their land to mine the rare Unobtanium mineral. It took the combined efforts of Jake and Neytiri to put an end to Quaritch's wrath, and while they killed the human version of Stephen Lang's character, it seems the Colonel will make his return in the form of a Na'vi Avatar body. Given Quaritch's distaste for the Na'vi and their culture, becoming one of them is sure to make the character's arc interesting in "The Way of Water."

A question of identity

In an interview From the "Avatar: The Way of Water" cover feature for the December 2022 issue of Total Film (on sale November 10th), Stephen Lang talked about his new character's precarious situation. Given that the original version of Quaritch perished in the first film, the one we see in "The Way of Water" is known as a "Recombinant," an avatar with all the old memories of Lang's character. Now given a physical advantage that allows the character to keep up with Jake and the other Na'vi, Lang says his character now has to deal with all the implications of coming back from the dead:

"Obviously, someone within the structure of RDA has thought that the concept of a Na'vi marine is not a bad idea for a fighting machine. But, of course, it puts him in a somewhat peculiar position. Because he was dead, and now he's been reconstituted. The question for him is: who is he? What is he? There are warring forces going on within him."

Lang's character in the original "Avatar" was an archetypical military villain serving a bloodthirsty industrial complex. This new development for the character will surely add more interesting layers to him. The experience of becoming a Na'vi has been shown to impact those with Avatars in the original film significantly, and Quaritch is no exception. 

Raising the stakes

In the same interview, Lang spoke about how Quaritch believes he's in control of the situation, despite embracing the tradition and weapons of the Na'Vi, seeing the culture and ways of the alien race as a means to an end:

"The Na'vi way starts to become his way. He begins to move much more like a Na'vi, and he begins to adopt their weapons and their mode of travel. From his point of view, he's adjusting his methods to fight the enemy, but what you find on Pandora is the planet operates on you. Eywa will have its way. That's very true of Quaritch, but he still thinks he's the master of the situation."

Lang implies that Quaritch's new body comes with unintentional consequences that may cause the character to change allegiances, similar to Sam Worthington's character Jake's arc in the original film. Worthington had his own comments about the development, seeing it as the perfect way to add tension to the film. "I loved the idea that Quaritch is now a Na'vi," he told Total Film, "and he's going to have his own conflicts, and his own eyes opened, just like what Jake went through. That raises the stakes completely."

However Quaritch's new avatar body affects the main story of "Avatar: The Way of Water," the three-hour sequel seems to be an improvement of the film on every level. Not only are the film's visuals an upgrade from the first, but the once one-dimensional characters and motives of the original movie are being questioned. Stephen Lang has been given a lot more to work with this time, making Quaritch's arc one of many things to look forward to in the sequel.