Stephen Lang, who played Colonel Miles Quaritch in the first Avatar film recently explained how his character returns for the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, after he was killed by Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri in the first movie.

(L-R): Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Twentieth Century Fox’s AVATAR. Photo by Mark Fellman. © 2009 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

Lang recently spoke with Empire Magazine where he first revealed that James Cameron promised his character would return during a party following shooting the first film.

He revealed, “When we were months and months into the first shoot, it was one of those days in Wellington when we actually had a party. So we were having a couple of beers and at that point, Jim turned to me and said, “You’ll be coming back” And I was like, “Hey that’s great!’, and then I kind of forgot about it.”

Lang continued, “It came up again two years later and I was so thrilled and delighted. He said, ‘I already told you that’. And it’s true. He doesn’t forget a thing. You know, when he first said it, I put it down as one beer too many or something like that. But that wasn’t the case at all. Generally, when Jim says something, he means it.”

Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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Lang would go on to explain how his character returns as a Recom or a Recombinant, “He’s a genetically-engineered autonomous avatar. He has been downloaded with the mind, the emotions, and even more interestingly, possibly the spirit of Quaritch.”

“Now, that’s all pretty esoteric stuff. He comes with a full memory bank up until the time he actually undergoes the DNA transfer. So there are certain things that he doesn’t have any memory of at all. He has no memory of his death,” Lang revealed.

Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

As to whether he will be the same Quaritch as the first movie, Lang detailed, “It’s fair to say it, but I think it’s incomplete. If you think about it, in the original film, Quaritch was really a function. He was a colourful function – a personality-filled function, but he really was there to provide conflict.”

“Now, he still has that function but I also think, just because of the depths of what Jim is exploring here, he’s quite a bit more than that. We’re seeing parts of him that we have not seen hitherto. That only makes sense because we don’t want to be massaging the same territory over and over again. We need to go to new places and indeed he does,” he relayed.

Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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Lang would also provide details on what the Resources Development Administration (RDA) is up to in Avatar: The Way of Water. For those who don’t remember the RDA is Quaritch’s employer and the company that obtained the rights to exclusively mine on Pandora for unobtanium. 

Lang told Empire, “The RDA is a big, busy, vibrant and very, very cold mechanism. I think that what happened in the past to the RDA is in effect water off a mechanical duck’s back to them. It’s just, ‘Okay if that doesn’t do it, let’s send in what does do it”, because they do the math.”

“If the outcome justifies the input, they’re gonna do the expenditure. It’s not a question of ego. It’s just flat-out cold, nasty business equations with them. That is the team that Quaritch’s playing for. They’re the ones who put the uniform on his back. If anything, he does his job – but I will just suggest that that his relationship with RDA is not a simple thing,” he added.

Stephen Lang as Quaritch in 20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The production notes for Avatar: The Way of Water reveal the story takes place a little over a decade after the events of the first film with Sam Worthington’s Sully and Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri forming a family that includes Lo’ak, Tuk, and their adopted teenage daughter Kiri played by Sigourney Weaver.

The notes explain, “The Omatikaya clan has lived a rather idyllic life for more than a decade before a growing star in the night sky signals the return of the human invaders. When human forces and massive destructive equipment land on Pandora, the Sullys and the rest of the Omatikaya are forced to create a secure stronghold in a giant cavern located within one of the massive floating rock formations that are a part of the Hallelujah Mountains.”

“‘The Sky People'” return to Pandora not just to run a mining operation to strip the moon of the valuable mineral known as ‘unobtainium.’ Instead, the Resources Development Administration (RDA) returns in force with the added objective to colonize the entire moon and make it the new home for humanity, as Earth is on the precipice of no longer being inhabitable,” the notes continue. “Destroying a large swathe of forest, the RDA erects a giant walled city on the ocean’s edge called Bridgehead. Leading the RDA’s on-world assets is unyielding General Francis Ardmore (Edie Falco).” 

(L-R): Jake Sully, Ronal, and Tonowari in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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Amongst the RDA forces are Lang’s Quaritch who leads a recom team with the task of hunting down Sully. With the RDA tracking them down, Sully and his family flee to the Metkayina clan and take refuge there.

However, Quaritch catches wind that he might be among one of the reef villages and begins to destroy them one after another. The notes then detail, “Quaritch’s pursuit leads not only to an epic sea battle that pits RDA forces against Jake, Neytiri and the Metkayina people but also a very personal confrontation between Quaritch and the two Sully parents.”

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The film arrives in theaters on December 16, 2022.

What do you make of how Lang’s Quaritch is returning to Avatar: The Way of Water and his description of the RDA?

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