Is Stephen Lang’s Colonel Miles Quaritch Back in Avatar the Way of Water?

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After thirteen years of waiting, Avatar: The Way of Water is coming out in theaters across the world this December. Numerous characters from the first movie are returning to action, and fans were shocked to see and hear some of the characters we thought were long gone are, in fact, returning to action. So, is Stephen Lang’s Colonel Miles Quaritch one of those characters?

Colonel Miles Quaritch, as well as Stephen Lang – the actor who portrayed him in the first Avatar movie – is returning in Avatar: The Way of Water. Although the character was killed in the first film, he’ll be resurrected as a Recom or a genetically-engineered autonomous avatar.

We already got to see what his Na’vi counterpart would look like and that he’ll likely lead the revenge attack on Jake Sully, Neytiri, and their clan on Pandora. The action will take place 14 years after the events of the first movie, but how exactly will all of that work? Here’s everything we know about Colonel Miles Quaritch and his return to action in Avatar: The Way of Water.

Who was Colonel Miles Quaritch in the first Avatar movie?

It’s been thirteen – almost fourteen – years since the first Avatar movie came out and became the highest-grossing movie of all time. Now, James Cameron and the team are returning for more action (for at least a trilogy), so to refresh your memory, let’s look at who Colone Miles Quaritch was in the first Avatar movie.

Colonel Miles Quaritch, portrayed by Stephen Lang, was the main antagonist of the first Avatar movie in 2009. He was an RDA (Resources Development Administration) Security Operations commander and their chief of security on the planet of Pandora in the early 2150s when the movie took place.

Quaritch led the RDA against the Na’vi in the Pandoran war, which culminated in the Assault on the Tree of Souls and the destruction of the Omaticaya clan’s Hometree. Even before he joined the RDA, Colonel Quaritch served as an infantry officer in the US Marine Corps.

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He bragged about doing three tours in Nigeria and leaving them without a scratch. As an RDA commander, Quaritch was just as brilliant and as dangerous in combat, both in hand-to-hand battle and as a marksman. He was also an incredible pilot with his own Dragon Assault Ship.

Quaritch was responsible for numerous deaths in the movie, including Eytukan (Omaticaya Clan Leader) and Dr. Grace Augustine, who he fatally wounded as she, Jake Sully, Norm Spellman, and Trudy Cacon were escaping custody at Hell’s Gate.

During the final battle of the first Avatar movie, Colonel Quaritch was the leader of the Assault on the Tree of Souls. He had done tons of damage before the joint efforts of Jake Sully, and Neytiri had him killed. In fact, it was Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri and her arrows that eventually ended Colonel Quaritch.

However, that proved to be non-permanent because, as you know, Stephen Lang’s Colonel Quaritch is back for Avatar: The Way of Water. Here’s how.

Is Stephen Lang’s Colonel Quaritch back in Avatar: The Way of Water?

It might come as a shock to some that Stephen Lang and his character are returning in the sequel despite being killed in the first Avatar movie, but hey, it’s science fiction! The first clue was the tattoo on his left arm that fans spotted in the trailer. Here’s a screenshot to help you see what I’m talking about:

avatar 2 quaritch tattoo

Colonel Miles Quaritch is getting his own Na’vi avatar, and he looks absolutely dope, with a buzz cut and tattooed arms all over. Now that the news is finally out, Stephen Lang had the liberty to talk about it a bit more. And, in an exclusive interview with Empire Magazine, Lang revealed that he had known about his return for the past decade.

“So we were having a couple of beers and at that point, Jim [Cameron] 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. 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.”

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Obviously, the ‘getting killed in the first movie part made the return a bit difficult. Or did it? Not exactly, as Colonel Miles Quaritch would return as a Recom or a Recombinant. Essentially, Quaritch will return with his mind and personality but not all of his memories. Stephen Lang explained it very simply:

“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.”

He added that it’s ‘fair to say that he’s still the same old Quaritch, but incomplete and with much more character depth. They didn’t want to go over the same thing again, so they explored new territories and went to ‘new places.’

What’s Colonel Miles Quaritch’s role in Avatar: The Way of Water?

Colonel Miles Quaritch is still a part of the RDA that’s headed back to Earth to recuperate and launch an even bigger, stronger assault on the Na’vi. As Lang explained in the same interview with Empire:

“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.”

That last bit got me interested, though – ‘his relationship with RDA is not a simple thing.’ Obviously, there will be some disagreement with his employers. So, it’s hard to gauge what his role exactly would be.

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Lang added that the dynamic between Quaritch and his RDA security general Ardmore (portrayed by Edie Falco) is a tricky one because she’s really a ‘by-the-book’ kind of person, and Quaritch thinks that sometimes, you just have to ‘throw the book out the window.’

Most likely, Colonel Quaritch will go against orders and do his own thing; that’s anything but by the book. Seeing that rumors swirled around for years that Quaritch will be around for at least three Avatar films, who knows? 

Maybe he’ll eventually even have a change of heart. I’m kidding; perhaps that’s a bit far-fetched because it would mean Colonel Quaritch has a heart in the first place. I guess we’ll just have to wait for Avatar: The Way of Water to drop to get more details, and that’ll happen on December 16, 2022.

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