How Stephen Lang Imagines Spider & Quaritch's Future After Avatar: The Way Of Water

James Cameron's "Avatar: The Way of Water," currently the third highest-grossing film of all time, is a clunky but well-meaning anti-colonialist fable about gentle Na'vi aliens fighting off an infiltrating, military-forward human army. In the future of "Avatar," humans have laid waste to their own planet and hope to relocate to the Edenic planet Pandora. Humans cannot breathe the air on Pandora, however, and have devised a way to shunt their consciousnesses into part-Na'vi clones. The Na'vi live in harmony with their planet, and, thanks to a quirk of their biology, are able to physically link their brains into a massive, planetwide consciousness they call Eywa. As a storyteller, Cameron may fall on the "massively blunt" side, but his dazzling digital visuals and natural world fantasies sure are pretty to look at. "The Way of Water" is best when its Na'vi characters are merely swimming around looking at alien fish and befriending superintelligent whales. 

Standing on the other side is the returning villain Quaritch (Stephen Lang), a military jarhead who is keen on capturing the Na'vi Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), and who has no compunction about killing the locals or tearing up the planet. In "The Way of Water," Quaritch, who had been killed in "Avatar," had his consciousness salvaged in a computer, and then shunted into a Na'vi body of his own. It was also revealed that Quaritch had, while he was dead, missed the upbringing of an abandoned son named Spider (Jack Champion), a friend of the Na'vi. 

Several scenes in "Water" were devoted to Quaritch bonding with Spider, and the two ended the film, defeated by the Na'vi, limping off together. While other "Avatar" films are forthcoming, Lang, in an interview with Cinemablend, theorized where his character and Spider might be once they are released.

He may be evil, but he's my dad.

Throughout both "Avatar" movies, Quaritch never displays a single shred of compassion for the people around him. He lives by a code of destruction, might, and dominance. The only people he seems to care for are his fellow soldiers, and even then, it's only in a soldierly way. It's not until near the end of "The Way of Water," when things are looking particularly desperate for Quaritch, that he has a change of heart. In a moment of humanity, Quaritch abandons his mission to save Spider from almost certain doom. Only a few moments later, Spider is presented with an opportunity to allow Quaritch to die but has a change of heart. Having spent the bulk of the film with his dad, Spider feels a twinge of mercy. 

Lang pondered the justice of the situation, and how his character's relationship with Spider affected his decision. Lang saw the mutual life-saving as a transactional exchange rather than an emotional one. In his words: 

"It's cool. The kid's torn, for sure, but it's kind of ... it's justice there, whether ... look, parentage aside, all of that aside, the fact of the matter is 20 minutes before that, I saved his life. I gave up the mission in order to keep the kid alive. Because there ain't no doubt in my mind that [Neytiri] would have slit his throat. And so, I think he, you know, he returns the favor. So we're even-steven at that point, you know. That doesn't necessarily reflect the fact that he thinks of me as 'Daddy,' because he doesn't."

The Way of Quaritch

Based on the available information for the next "Avatar" movie — scheduled for release in December of 2024 — allegedly both Quaritch and Spider will return. With their relationship "even-steven," perhaps the two have begun to form an understanding. Perhaps in being saved by his own son, and now occupying a Na'vi body, Quaritch will begin to soften and understand that destroying Pandora is not a helpful exercise. A fun arc for the character would be for him to defect from the human world and join the Na'vi himself. 

In a darker twist, perhaps Spider would follow his jarhead dad into military service, realizing that he should be taking up weapons and helping humans to colonize. Given how gentle Spider was in "The Way of Water," this would be tragic. 

Most intriguingly, how about both? Spider becomes convinced that humanity, increasingly desperate back on Earth, requires Pandora more than the Na'vi do, but Quaritch finds himself questioning his role in a violent, essentially genocidal exercise. There was a brief moment in "The Way of Water" when a human whaler (Jemaine Clement) acknowledged that the whales he is hunting are even more intelligent than humans. He reveals that he drinks heavily to take the edge off of the utterly immoral thing he is doing. With characters like that lurking around the edges of "Water's" human world, it's entirely likely that Quaritch would find compatriots, people willing to fight against humanity for the benefit of Pandora. 

We'll know for sure in 2024.