You can say a lot of things about James Cameron's pet project Avatar, which finally released in 2009 after 15 years in production. You can call it a typical "white saviour" movie, you can criticise the unoriginal storytelling and claim it's just the same movie as Pocahontas, but one thing remains - it was an unprecedented success, becoming the first film ever to gross more than $2 billion at the box office.
So it came as no surprise when Cameron announced that he'd be making an Avatar 2 and an Avatar 3 AND an Avatar 4. Yep, there's gonna be a tetralogy of Avatar films, set to release one a year from December 2017 through to 2019.
But something kinda odd seems to be happening with the casting, as two characters very heavy implied to have died seem to be returning for the sequels...
Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver)
You may remember horror/sci-fi icon Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar, a peaceful scientist trying to foster relations between the humans and the Na'vi. She protested the destruction of the Na'vi's Hometree and was held captive by big bad Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) alongside Jake Sully (Sam Worthington).
Whilst escaping Grace is shot by Quaritch, and at the Tree of Souls the Na'vi attempt to save her life by transferring her consciousness into her avatar body, but she dies before the process can complete.
Cameron: "Who said she died? Nobody dies in a science fiction movie. Whether Grace lives or dies depends more on Sigourney’s agent than anything."
Well the official plot summary does for one but whatever James Cameron, you're the boss. Now Weaver is confirmed to be returning for Avatar 2 or whatever it ends up being called, so it looks like narratively there's going to be some death retconning going on.
Well the most reasonable explanation for this would be that the process to transfer her mind into the avatar body did in fact take, her "death" being perhaps a part of that process or an otherwise false flag. Let's be honest, I'm perfectly happy to see Weaver returning for the sequel. I'd watch Weaver watch paint dry.
Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang)
But it's not all good news for the apparent resurrections going on in Pandora, as Cameron has confirmed that big bad Miles Quartich will be back too! In fact he's been described as Avatar's answer to Darth Vader - a bold claim to make and big shoes to fill.
During the final climactic battle, whilst Quaritch threatens Jake's life, he's seemingly slain by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) via two massive arrows to the chest. Ouch.
At the time he was very rightly assumed dead, but now Lang is set to return for not just one, but all three of the Avatar sequels as the primary antagonist.
Cameron: "Steven was so memorable in the first film, we’re privileged to have him back. I’m not going to say exactly how we’re bringing him back, but it’s a science fiction story, after all. His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who’s also become a good friend."
Well I suppose his "body" could've been retrieved by his troops before he died completely, but did you see the size of those arrows? That's still a hell of a lot of damage for him to have suffered, so it's likely he'd be left seriously paralysed or otherwise medically messed up as a result. Because of this it looks likely he'll be returning with even bloodier revenge in mind to wreck upon Pandora.
Okay, so fair enough - it's Cameron's world and story, he can do with it what he wishes. But using the "it's sci-fi so I can do what I want" excuse seems like a bit of a cop out, hopefully he'll have a more concise explanation behind their returns when Avatar 2 comes to screens in 2017.