Exclusive: 'Avatar' Sequels Are "More Complicated" For Stephen Lang's Villain

Pop quiz: without any hints, can you recall the name of the villain in Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time? You may not remember his name – it's Colonel Miles Quaritch, in case you were wondering – but you probably remember Stephen Lang's grizzled performance as the ruthless military man. Lang is coming back to reprise the role in James Cameron's Avatar sequels, and in a new interview, the actor told us about what we can expect from his character as the story continues.

I sat down with Lang a few days ago to chat about his work as a mummified zombie assassin in the upcoming movie Mortal Engines, and while our full conversation will be published on /Film soon, Lang's quote about the Avatar sequels provides some interesting fodder for speculation. Here's the relevant part of the conversation:

I have to ask you about the Avatar sequels. You're coming back to play Quaritch across the next few movies – what can you tell us about that?

"Like, nothing. I can tell you that we're deeply, deeply into the shooting. We're by no means finished. Quaritch, his place in this particular universe has gotten more complicated. And that's kind of the extent of his involvement in the world. The world begins to – the world of Pandora – begins to affect him quite deeply in ways that he either refused or it did not affect him. And it gets under his skin."

In August of 2017, we learned that Lang's Quaritch is going to be returning for multiple Avatar sequels, despite being dramatically (and seemingly definitively!) killed off in the original 2009 movie.

At the time, James Cameron explained:

"The interesting conceit of the Avatar sequels is it's pretty much the same characters. There are new characters and a lot of new settings and creatures, so I'm taking characters you know and putting them in unfamiliar places and moving them on this greater journey. But it's not a whole bunch of new characters every time. There's not a new villain every time, which is interesting. Same guy. Same motherf***er through all four movies. He is so good and he just gets better. I know Stephen Lang is gonna knock this out of the park."

So with all of that as context, what could Lang's comments mean about the future of the character? Quaritch's place in the universe becoming "more complicated" shouldn't be too difficult, considering it was about as black and white as it could get in the first film. But could this mean that as a dead character, Quaritch begins to understand the magical nature of Pandora? If the answer is yes and he has the same consciousness as he did when he was alive, it sounds like that could force a reckoning within him – and maybe even the start of a trajectory that could end with him becoming redeemed by the end of these movies. That's just speculation on my part, but hey, something has to happen across this franchise's four planned sequels.

Avatar 2 arrives in theaters on December 18, 2020.