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Avatar 2 Is Missing A Romantic Subplot (& This Omission Actually Makes The Most Sense)

Contains spoilers for "Avatar: The Way of Water"

In the most general sense, "Avatar" is a story we have all seen before. Man is thrown into an alien culture. Man falls for the beautiful daughter of the clan leader. Man transfers his soul into a nine-foot-tall alien body after realizing the culture is not full of hostiles. A tale as old as time. And while James Cameron used some well-traversed tropes for the 2009 film, many elements still hit home. Audiences know what they're in for when they see Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) meet impressive warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña). This is a movie, and when one character hates that they have to teach some interloper the ways of her people, you know where it's going.

But when Jake and Neytiri do get together, it is earned. Jake turns a corner when it comes to his education. He learns that the prejudice from his military training was incorrect and the Na'vi should be able to protect their home. Jake makes a great sacrifice and leaves behind everything he knows to be with Neytiri on Pandora. This could have been a romantic bookend for a movie, but "Avatar: The Way of Water" revisits the couple more than a decade later. While the bonded couple is still together, the sequel to "Avatar" has quite a different vibe with the romance plot this time around.

Jake and Neytiri are parents now

In the intervening time since we have last seen Jake and Neytiri, a lot has changed. "Avatar" showed the passion and longing often seen at the beginning of a romance, but after more than 10 years down the line, every relationship changes in some way. The most significant change to their dynamic is the additions to it. In "Avatar: The Way of Water," Neytiri has given birth to three children: Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss). They have also adopted Dr. Grace Augustine's Na'vi daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), and the wayward human, Spider (Jack Champion). It is a mixed family as many modern families are. This leaves little time for romance, as some Redditors noted. But as the characters change, so too do the audiences who enjoyed the first film so much.

"I think it's likely that those people who liked the romance element from the first film have now 13 years later took the romance in their own life and had a kid/s and a family. Which is heavily present in this film making it still incredibly relatable to them," u/Jsantoslive03 noted. "The film grew up just like the people outside waiting for it." Though the first film was contingent on the romance plot, viewers weren't necessarily bothered by the lack of it. There is still tangible and heartfelt love between the family, even more so now that they have grown.

U/BoyMeetzEvil agreed, saying: "For me it was more emotional than the first one and I think Avatar goes beyond the romance."

Avatar 2 fails in a different way

Viewers have no problem with the romance in "Avatar: The Way of Water" being toned down. However, there is a glaring oversight in the film when it comes to one-half of the couple. Neytiri was originally developed as extremely complex, just one of James Cameron's impressive female characters. An accomplished warrior of her clan, she feels a profound sense of duty. But she also doesn't shy away when the occasion calls for it. She demands that Jake take responsibility for his duplicity when she discovers he had been lying to her about his motivations in "Avatar." This rich character arc was sorely missing in the sequel, and fans took note.

"I will say that I am quite sad we didn't get more of Jake and Neytiri plus she was sidelined like 80 — 90% of the film. I hope we get more of them in the next film," u/BoyMeetzEvil wrote. They weren't the only that had this feeling. U/terkwahhz chimed in, saying: "Neytiri left her whole family behind and then we don't know if she made new family in the archipelago. I guess wait for Avatar 3."

Critics also found her story to be lacking. CBR pointed out that the main drag of the film focuses on the children and less so the parents. The Independent was even harsher, concluding that Neytiri's storyline was the least satisfying. Though Jake is the main perspective of the "Avatar" universe, sidelining Neytiri is a crime against nature.