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Stephen Lang Believes Avatar 2's Quaritch Can Be Redeemed While The Original Was Too Set In His Ways

Contains spoilers for "Avatar: The Way of Water"

Everyone loves a good redemption story. In some ways, the very first "Avatar" is one itself. After all, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) initially comes to Pandora with an invading army looking to strip the moon of its natural resources despite its Indigenous population and the resulting upset to the ecological balance. But as fans know, by the film's end, he is both spiritually and biologically Na'vi, fighting to protect his new home alongside Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and the rest of the Omaticaya.

Granted, Jake isn't a bad guy, exactly; he's a morally conflicted individual working for a faceless and soulless institution. Stories in which the villain sees the error of their ways are more difficult to pull off, perhaps because of the number of moral compromises one has to make in order to do atrocious things to begin with. It's hard to come back from.

That's where Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) comes in. The ruthless and hard-charging Resources Development Administration Marine pretty much embodies everything wrong with the invading military: cruel, unfeeling, and hungry for the chance to commit violence against those he deems inferior. Despite all this, and despite his apparent death at the end of "Avatar," Lang is still dropping hints that Quaritch might have some good in him after all.

As is well-known by now, Quaritch is back in "Avatar: The Way of Water," only this time as a "recombinant," an avatar implanted with human memories developed by the RDA to better subdue Pandora's populations. And he is just as nasty as he was in human form, seeking revenge on Jake Sully, the Na'vi, and Jake's newfound allies, the Metkayina.

Stephen Lang leaves the door open for Quaritch's redemption

While Quaritch is far from changing his ways at the end of "The Way of Water," he is still changed somewhat. On top of the obvious — his new physical form — he is also rescued from drowning by his own human son, Spider (Jack Champion), who then tells him off and turns his back on him to rejoin Jake, Neytiri, and the Metkayina.

In an interview with Collider, Stephen Lang noted that there are indeed changes taking place for Quaritch, even if they are on an imperceptible level. "One should always remain open to the possibilities," he said when asked about a possible redemption arc. "Who can say? This is a mysterious world. ... He is part of that world now. What he has learned is that he cannot shape that world according to his desires, the way he wants to do things. He needs to adapt to it. And so I think, under those circumstances, anything is possible. Do I personally think that he's redeemable? Yeah. Sure. Will he be redeemed? Can't say."

Interestingly enough, Lang doesn't think that the original, human version of Quaritch would be susceptible to changing his ways whatsoever. When he was asked specifically whether "OG Quaritch" is redeemable, Lang was frank. "It's a different situation," he answered. "The OG colonel had cauterized away so much of his emotion and feeling. He was in a tough spot, spiritually." In some ways, then, Quaritch, in becoming more Na'vi, also becomes more human.

Is Quaritch the new Darth Vader?

Stephen Lang had known for years that director James Cameron intended to bring his character back in the "Avatar" sequels. The fact that Jake Sully could have his consciousness permanently fused with his Na'vi avatar did essentially leave all possibilities open. Whether Quaritch will come to see the way of life on Pandora as better is, of course, impossible to tell at this point. But his current form certainly hints at it, as does Cameron's announcement that Quaritch will in fact be in all the "Avatar" films.

In the past, Lang has been very hesitant to compare Quaritch to Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) of "Star Wars" fame: "I believe [James Cameron] did me no favors in saying that Quaritch is the Darth Vader of this film. It's like, 'Please, don't put that on me! Darth Vader is Darth Vader'" (via Vulture). In some ways, though, the analogy fits. Though both Quaritch and Vader are nasty bad guys who embody everything wrong with the imperial-conqueror mindset, neither are the ones ultimately in charge, with Vader subordinate to Emperor Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Quaritch following the orders of a massive corporation-government hybrid.

Both adopt different bodies and faces in order to continue carrying out those orders. And while the details of Quaritch's own character arc have yet to be really seen, we do know that Vader's last-minute change of heart, killing Palpatine and embracing his son, Luke (Mark Hamill), is one that reveals his last bit of humanity hasn't been squashed. Is there that same tiny ember now somehow smoldering in Colonel Quaritch's Na'vi incarnation? Lang seems to think so.