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Avatar 2 Fans Can't Seem To Agree On Jake's Skills As A Father

This article contains spoilers for "Avatar: The Way of Water."

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) has come a long way since his first ingratiation into the Na'vi's culture. When we first meet the protagonist of "Avatar," he does not adhere to the idealism of Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver). As part of the military, he blindly follows orders from Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who views the Na'vi as adversaries and wants to strip Pandora of its precious resources. Jake accepts the task of being put into an Avatar and comes to learn the Na'vi way of life. But after seeing the plight of the Na'vi up close and personal, he turns away from his marine background and fights against the military occupation.

Jake endears himself to his new family and, in turn, embarks on the complicated Na'vi bonding process with fierce warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña). And even though Jake and Neytiri raise their children on Pandora in "Avatar: The Way of Water," the movie makes it clear that parenthood is no easy task, no matter what planet — or moon — you're living on. Taking care of a brood of four shows some of Jake's less admirable qualities, and fans have struggled to make sense of his parenting skills.

Jake's tough love was not a hit with everyone

With a quick, cursory glance at Jake's character in the "Avatar" films, many of his traits leave much to be desired. Though he leaves the tyranny of Quaritch's leadership to help the Na'vi, he is ultimately still a military man. This, of course, is not an indictment on its own, but he does still represent some of Quaritch's toxic teachings that are present in his military education. Many fans on Reddit recognized that Quaritch and Jake share an uncomfortable amount of traits in "Avatar: The Way of Water."

"There were so many similarities between Sully and Quaritch in their treatment of their sons," noted u/JimVanilla. "Jake literally blamed his son for the death of his other son and it took his son saving his life for him to acknowledge him. Yet I feel like the film never fully acknowledges this idea."

Quaritch's eternal battle with the Sullys continues in the "Avatar" sequel. After downloading his memories and personality into an Avatar clone, Quaritch continues his quest against Jake. This culminates in a battle where a stray bullet kills Jake's son Neteyam (Jamie Flatters). U/deepest_royy agreed that Jake's grief was not shown in the healthiest ways. The Redditor also disliked how Jake referred to his children, saying that they disliked: "[T]he whole dynamics of having his sons call him 'sir.'" Jake raises his children as soldiers instead of family, which rubbed some viewers the wrong way.

Jake's military mind has some redeeming qualities

One of the biggest sticking points about Jake's parenting was the fallout of Neteyam's death. After Jake spends much of the film training his children like an army, losing his eldest sends him into a tailspin. In an outburst of rage, he blames Lo'ak (Britain Dalton) for his part in his older brother's death. While many Redditors found this behavior unforgivable, others had a more pragmatic look at the situation. U/Burning_sun_prog reflected that Jake acts out of grief in a period of immense stress. Others found merit in commenting on the culture of the Na'vi.

"I suspect you're not considering the severe hostility that the Navi are living in during the movie; so your judgement of Jake's parenting is from a modern-day Western lens," u/WeakDiaphragm pointed out. "He needs to be severe to his sons because death is almost guaranteed if they overstep." The idea of a burgeoning war made a difference to film viewers. Jake's background in the military gave him certain values which he imparted to his children.

"He was a Marine," posted u/srjohnson2. "That's where he learned leadership and discipline." But the comment that was generally the same across the board had to do with Lo'ak himself. Fans were sensitive to the fact that Jake's second son flagrantly and frequently defies his father's wishes, leading to catastrophe. Jake's reaction stems from a place of sadness and frustration.

Jake was a direct reaction to James Cameron's parenting

In a sequel of a film reflecting the treatment of Indigenous cultures, it's not entirely shocking that other themes would strike a chord. But if fans want to get to the heart of where exactly Jake is coming from, they should consult the man himself. James Cameron has been the director behind many blockbusters of note and was influenced by something quite personal in "Avatar: The Way of Water." Cameron detailed to The Hollywood Reporter feedback he received from his children when it came to his parenting which he utilized for the film.

"I'm on a rules-based universe, and the kids weren't into it," Cameron explained. "They said, 'You're never around half the time. And, then, when you come home, you try to make up for it by telling us all what to do.'" The "Titanic" director took what his children said to heart, and found a way to tell a similar story in "Avatar: The Way of Water."

"I thought, 'I'm going to work out a lot of my stuff, artistically, that I've gone through as a parent of five kids,'" Cameron says. "The overarching idea is, the family is the fortress. It's our greatest weakness and our greatest strength. I thought, 'I can write the hell out of this. I know what it is to be the a**hole dad.'" It seems that not only was Cameron extremely aware of Jake's shortcomings, but that was the entire point.