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How Stephen Lang’s Quaritch Returns From The Dead


How will Stephen Lang’s Quaritch come back to haunt the Na’vi in Avatar 2? Released in 2009, Avatar made cinematic history by pushing the envelope with CGI and 3D technology, and scoring a record-breaking haul at the box office that was only recently toppled by Avengers: Endgame. An overt allegory for industrialization and colonialism, Avatar saw humans occupying the faraway moon of Pandora, hoping to oust the locals and mine the satellite for its bountiful natural resources. Assisted by a group of humans sympathetic to their plight, the Na’vi repel these unwelcome invaders and defeat the man leading the charge – the military-minded Colonel Miles Quaritch.

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In Avatar‘s climactic battle, Quaritch targets Jake Sully’s human body, hoping to finish him off as a defenseless Earthling rather than a formidable blue Avatar. Fortunately, the villain is stopped by Neytiri, Jake’s new, blue girlfriend played by Zoe Saldana. Quaritch’s death marks the end of hostilities between Earth and Pandora, and everything ends on a largely happy note – the bad humans go, the good ones stay, and Jake completes his journey by becoming a member of the Na’vi permanently.

Related: Why James Cameron’s Avatar Is So Divisive (Despite Its Box Office Success)

While Avatar‘s ending might’ve seemed definitive, the combination of tempting box office gains and James Cameron’s whirring imagination ensures there’s more to come from the world of Avatar, and crucially, from Quaritch. A grand total of 4 Avatar sequels are in the pipeline at various stages of development, and Quaritch is confirmed to be a part of them, but since Stephen Lang’s character was last seen with several giant arrows poking out of his chest, how is this possible?

Stephen Lang’s Quaritch Returns In Avatar 2 (& Other Sequels)

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Stephen Lang as Miles Quaritch in Avatar
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When it comes to continuing the Avatar story, James Cameron is essentially putting the grim reaper on gardening leave. The three biggest casualties from the 2009 film were Quaritch, Sigourney Weaver’s Grace, and Jake’s rival, Tsu’tey, but Lang and Weaver are both set to make a miraculous recovery in Avatar 2. Given the trend of returning characters, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Laz Alonso take a break from busting supes in The Boys to reprise his role as Tsu’tey either.

Lang confirmed his return to the Avatar franchise as early as 2013, and a statement from Cameron revealed that Quaritch’s new arc would branch out into a multi-film story. Since that announcement, the Avatar sequels have been expanded all the way to a fifth film in 2028, which could take Quaritch’s journey even further down the rabbit role of Pandora. While Avatar fans can expect Quaritch to be a permanent fixture in the franchise’s future, the method of his return has yet to be confirmed. It’s not clear whether the villainous colonel will be legitimately brought back to life, or whether he’ll become a more ethereal, spiritual presence in the Avatar world.

Avatar Has Already Shown That Death Doesn’t Need To Be Permanent

Na'vi ritual in Avatar
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The groundwork has already been laid for dead characters to cheat death in the Avatar sequels. In the original movie, Sigourney Weaver’s Dr. Grace Augustine takes a bullet from Quaritch that leaves her on the brink of death. Grace gained the trust of the Na’vi by teaching them English and respectfully adapting to the local culture, so Neytiri and the gang attempt to transfer the doctor’s consciousness from her human body into her artificial avatar via the mysterious Tree of Souls. Due to the extent of Grace’s injuries, this process is a failure, proving that the Tree of Souls isn’t a foolproof way of gaining immortality. However, when Quaritch grievously injures Jake in Avatar‘s finale, the tribe repeat the ritual successfully, fixing Sully’s consciousness into his avatar body.

Related: Why Sci-Fi Movies Are So Divisive At The Box Office

The Tree of Souls is central to the Na’vi’s spiritual beliefs, with the tribe maintaining that a connection can be made to their god Ewya through those ancient roots and branches. Much is still unknown about the mythology behind Pandora and the unique, interconnected nature of the flora and fauna, but there’s obviously an advanced science going on beneath the surface. The Tree of Souls appears to be a connection point into a larger natural hard drive of information, capable of separating the mind and body, but while the Na’vi worship this wondrous natural structure like an idol, it’s not necessarily the only point of access to the moon’s data.

James Cameron has revealed that his Avatar sequels will explore the geography of Pandora beyond what was shown in the first movie, perhaps reaching to the other 13 moons orbiting Polyphemus. It’s logical to assume that Pandora isn’t necessarily Polyphemus’ only inhabited moon, and the power of the Tree of Souls could exist on these other satellites, creating a much larger neural network than the Na’vi are aware of. In terms of Stephen Lang’s return, the possibility of other life-giving trees on Pandora or elsewhere means that Quaritch’s resurrection wouldn’t require the Na’vi or their special tree. Quaritch can be revived in another location, and crucially, by a different civilization.

A Different Pandora Species Could Bring Quaritch Back

The Oceans of Pandora in Avatar
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In order to earn his place among the Na’vi, Jake Sully travels around the various tribes and unites them against the human invasion, and this journey gives a small glimpse at the wider world of Avatar. A host of exotic beasts live on the surface of Pandora, and virtually all of them have the same natural connection node used by the Na’vi to communicate with the Tree of Souls. It’s natural that other sentient species could exist on Pandora – societies that also harness the moon’s natural power, and perhaps to a greater extent than the Na’vi. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee these folks will be as respectful and peaceful as Jake and Neytiri’s clan are.

Neytiri kills Quaritch, and it’s assumed that’s where the villain’s story ends, but if another civilization exists on Pandora – one naturally opposed to the Na’vi – these unseen enemies might’ve identified Quaritch as a potential ally. Using their own variation on the Tree of Souls, this evil species could transfer Quaritch’s consciousness out of his ailing body, but since the military man never inhabited an avatar of his own, Quaritch would need a new physical vessel. Similar to how the Sith in Star Wars use Force abilities the Jedi consider taboo, enemies of the Na’vi might have a darker way of bringing Quaritch back that doesn’t require a ready-made avatar. Killing one of their own and allowing him to inhabit the corpse, for example.

Related: 2010s Movies Learned The Wrong Lessons From Avatar’s Success

It’s no secret that Avatar 2 is filming predominantly underwater, which immediately proves the sequel will be set far away from the original geographically. Perhaps a villainous tribe rises from the deep and the Na’vi go to meet them in battle, or maybe this new species kicks the Na’vi out of their natural forest habitat, forcing them into the ocean. Either way, it would make strategic sense for these shadowy antagonists to recruit Quaritch as an ally, since he came closer than anyone else to toppling the Na’vi and their tree-hugging ways.

What Quaritch’s Return Means For Avatar 2 (& Other Sequels)

Stephen Lang as Miles Quaritch in Avatar
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Quaritch infamously hated the Na’vi in the first Avatar movie, so whoever is responsible from bringing him back, the colonel is unlikely to be happy about it. The idea of being resurrected by the very Tree of Souls he once laughed at is bound to leave a sour taste in the colonel’s mouth, perhaps to the point where he would’ve preferred to remain dead. Quaritch will have to weigh his ego and human pride against the burning desire for revenge he’ll inevitably feel upon awakening, and this philosophical quandary fits with what Stephen Lang has already revealed about his character’s forthcoming arc. The actor previously claimed that Quaritch’s return would prove complicated, with Pandora getting under the colonel’s skin in entirely new ways.

Quaritch is set to continue his antagonist role in Avatar 2, and much like Jake’s avatar, his resurrection will surely come with physical perks that a military mind could put to good use. A nature-powered upgrade would make Quaritch more dangerous than ever before, but it’s unlikely he’ll be the main villain this time around. Whoever brings Quaritch back to life would have done so because they deem him useful, suggesting a new threat to the Na’vi is on the horizon, far bigger than Colonel Quaritch and his perfectly measured haircut.

Stephen Lang plays an excellent villain, and there’s undoubtedly more mileage in an evil Miles Quaritch, at least for one sequel. But with Lang’s story set to continue into Avatar 3 and beyond, how long until the bad guy act becomes stale? Surely, the next 4 Avatar movies won’t simply rinse and repeat the same Jake vs. Quaritch feud; this is blockbuster sci-fi, after all, not Looney Tunes where the same villain always comes back for more. There’s more value in Quaritch experiencing a slow redemption arc over the next 4 Avatar movies. Despite Avatar‘s less-than subtle environmental message and controversial white savior tropes, James Cameron’s film is essentially one of optimism, where the champions of nature overcome the forces of greed. In this ongoing struggle, the Na’vi’s ultimate victory would be convincing Quaritch to change his ways, finally turning him to their side. The first step in that process could be using Pandora’s mysterious natural powers to bring Quaritch back to life. While he might loathe the idea of being trapped inside a blue-skinned body, living as a Na’vi could make the once-dastardly Miles Quaritch a nature lover over the next 4 Avatar movies.

More: Disney+ Has Let Down James Cameron’s Avatar

Key Release Dates

  • Avatar 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
  • Avatar 3 (2024)Release date: Dec 20, 2024
  • Avatar 4 (2026)Release date: Dec 18, 2026
  • Avatar 5 (2028)Release date: Dec 22, 2028

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