The Big Idea Stephen Lang Brought To Avatar: The Way Of Water


The Big Idea Stephen Lang Brought To Avatar: The Way Of Water

The long-awaited arrival of James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” will see the return of Pandora and the characters that inhabit it on the big screen. Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch was a highlight in the original film, a badass villain that represented the worst that the military-industrial complex has to offer. Although Quaritch met his demise last time around, he will make his return in the sequel. Well, at least most of him. The complex nature of the character is set to be explored in “The Way of Water,” and Lang brought his own ideas to the table.


In “The Way of Water,” Quaritch’s resurrection is not as simple as it seems. After getting shot by a bunch of Na’vi-sized arrows during the final battle, his body was too far gone for resuscitation. Fortunately for Quaritch, new technology created by the Resources Development Administration now allows for his consciousness to be uploaded into an avatar. However, the Quaritch we saw at the end of the first film may not all be present in his new and improved body. There is a moment in the upcoming sequel that apparently speaks to that dissociation, one that Lang directly contributed to.

Be warned: if you want to go in blind not knowing anything about the character, turn away now. Some minor spoilers follow.

Seeing a ghost

Stephen Lang in Avatar: The Way of Water
20th Century Studios
When Quaritch comes back into the fold in “The Way of Water,” it’ll be a version of him that didn’t experience his final moments in the first film. The memories restored in the new avatar body are slightly dated. Even though most of his essence will remain the same, the situation may become troublesome to Quaritch, who finds out how he died the hard way. 

/Film’s Jacob Hall attended a press conference for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” where Cameron revealed that Lang, a screenwriter in his own right, suggested a scene that ended up making the final script: “He actually brought ideas that I was able to incorporate in the writing phase…Like when he finds his own remains in the forest, that was actually Stephen’s suggestion.” A snippet of the scene is actually in the trailer, when his gun-toting Na’vi explores the forest alongside another avatar. 

Knowing how important Lang’s Quaritch will likely be once again, it’s pretty exciting to hear that he had direct input in what seems like a very harrowing scene in the film. Above all, it should make for a powerful moment that speaks to a past self that despised the Na’vi race.

Becoming what you hate

Stephen Lang in Avatar
20th Century Studios
In the first “Avatar,” Quaritch represented the quintessential leadership figure for the militarized expedition on Pandora. A veteran with more combat experience than anyone else in proximity, Quaritch was a pillar of traditional masculinity and held ideas that rejected the legitimacy of the people he and the RDA were murdering to ravage the lands of Pandora. When he told Jake Sully he had betrayed his own race, he meant it. However, all of that is flipped on its head when his only means of survival is becoming the very thing he called a savage animal. It’s all poetic, really.

It may be karma or something else entirely, but one thing is certain: Quaritch has to now reckon with a new state of being that questions his entire morality up until this point. Although he hasn’t been exactly a sympathetic character, I’d bet that will change soon enough. And judging by the critical response, “The Way of Water” appears to already be on the right track when it comes to character development.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” finally arrives in theaters on December 16, 2022.