Avatar: The Way of Water is the sequel to the biggest movie of all time. James Cameron's Avatar sequel boasts even more conceptual and visual ambition than its groundbreaking predecessor, striking out into exciting, unseen areas of the extraordinary planet Pandora.
The cast of characters in The Way of Water teems with faces both old and new. We understand that, since the original Avatar movie came in 2009, you may need a recap as to who's who. And while you're at it, you could also do with a précis of the important new characters that are set to expand the Avatar mythology.
Scroll down to discover everything you need to know. You may even come across some characters that combine the old and the new in one body...
1. Jake Sully
- Played by Sam Worthington
Jake first appeared in Avatar as a paraplegic colonial marine (or 'grunt' as the derisory term goes). He arrived on Pandora in lieu of his deceased brother, the powers-that-be reasoning that their genetic code was so similar that Jake could take his sibling's place in the Avatar body-swap program.
Once in the body of the indigenous Pandoran Na'vi, Jake acclimated to the dangerous exotic environment. In the process, he fell for Na'vi tribal member Neytiri and transitioned to their way of life. Ultimately, Jake invoked the divine Pandoran deity Eywa and helped the Na'vi defeat their colonial oppressors, but not after much loss and heartbreak.
Avatar: The Way of Water picks up 10 years after the events of the first movie. Jake and Neytiri are now partners and have been enjoying a relatively idyllic life with their natural and adopted children. However, the unexpected resurgence of an old enemy forces the family to seek shelter with the underwater Metkayina clan, all the while as they plot to fight back against this hostile threat.
- Played by Zoe Saldana
Neytiri very much fits with James Cameron's pedigree of strong female characters (Ripley from Aliens; Sarah Connor from The Terminator; Rose from Titanic). As played by Zoe Saldana, she's an efficient and capable Na'vi warrior who remains devoted to her family and the indigenous way of life.
However, her world turns upside down when she meets human-turned-Na'vi Jake, for whom she eventually falls. She and Jake make the sacred Na'vi bond while observing the sacred Tree of Souls, but not before she has taught Jake everything he needs to know about surviving Pandora's dangers. This includes swinging from trees, reading the environment and working with the natural flora and fauna.
In Avatar: The Way of Water, Neytiri is devastated when her home with Jake is destroyed by a threat from the past. Grieving over what she has lost, Neytiri is reminded by Jake about the importance and strength of their family. It mirrors the essential message propagated by Neytiri herself in the original movie.
- Played by Sigourney Weaver
Somewhat confusingly, Jake and Neytiri's oldest child, Kiri (she's also adopted), is played by Sigourney Weaver. Is there a connection with Weaver's character from the previous movie, Dr. Grace Augustine?
Grace was the pioneer of the Avatar body swap program but was killed in the course of the action. We can't wait to see how Cameron explains that one. (Maybe it's some kind of spiritual transference relating to the great Pandoran deity, Eywa?)
4. Miles Quaritch
- Played by Stephen Lang
Colonel Miles Quaritch took Jake under his wing in the original Avatar. Jake would deliver his superior the best intel on the Na'vi in exchange for a vital operation on his legs that would help Jake walk again.
However, when Jake threw in his lot with the Na'vi, an enraged and betrayed Quaritch reacted by destroying Neytiri's ancestral home, Hometree. This propelled Jake and Quaritch into a desperate battle to the death, and ultimately Quaritch was killed with two deadly poison-tipped arrows, shot by Neytiri.
Some 10 years later, Quaritch has re-emerged in his own avatar body. We're not sure how that has happened. Maybe he had a sample of his own DNA on reserve so that the company could build a Quaritch avatar as a backup plan?
Either way, Quaritch is consumed with enough rage to raze the Pandoran rainforest in pursuit of Jake and Neytiri. He's also glimpsed crushing a human skull, which may well be his own remains from a former life. The stakes are clearly more personal than ever.
5. Neteyam, Lo'ak and Tuktirey
- Played by Jamie Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss and Bailey Bass
Jake and Neytiri's natural children are shown to integrate with the Metkayina culture. The younger siblings, Lo'ak and Tuktirey, appear to harmonise with the breathtaking underwater landscape and its inhabitants.
However, the older, more testosterone-led Neteyam clashes with the Metkayina clan members and despises being regarded as an outsider. This seems to fuel part of the movie's coming-of-age narrative when Neteyam is told by his Metkayina opposite number, 'I see you.' As per the original avatar, this has more than just a literal meaning; it establishes a deep-seated emotional bond that is designed to break down all manner of boundaries.
- Played by Kate Winslet
Some 25 years after Titanic, James Cameron and Kate Winslet are combining forces again. Winslet was reportedly intimidated by Cameron's notoriously bullish personality on the set of his water-logged blockbuster epic. However, they've clearly let bygones be bygones as Winslet is portraying one of the Avatar sequel's most pivotal characters, Ronal.
She is the leader of the Metkayina tribe that effectively becomes the surrogate family of Jake and Neytiri's own brood. Ronal's exact role in the drama is yet to be teased out. However, much has been made of Winslet's free-diving abilities on the set of the new Avatar movie. She reportedly learned to hold her breath for more than seven minutes underwater, so fingers crossed that effort will translate into an intriguing character.
- Played by Cliff Curtis
Ronal's husband and Metkayina leader, Tonowari is played by veteran New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis (Three Kings; Training Day; Doctor Sleep).
8. Norm Spellman
- Played by Joel David Moore
Geeky Norm was part of Grace Augustine's scientific crew in the first Avatar movie. He was somewhat jealous of Jake hogging the avatar limelight but came good in the end, helping to fight back against the oppressive colonial forces.
9. Max Patel
- Played by Dileep Rao
Max is another familiar face from the original film. He worked with Jake and Grace to help further the capabilities of the avatar simulation, so let's see what he has up his sleeve in the second movie.
- Played by C.C.H. Pounder
Mo'at is Neytiri's mother. You may remember in the first Avatar movie, she was the first member of the Na'vi to get the full measure of Jake when he was captured and brought to Hometree.
In the original movie, Mo'at lost her husband, clan leader and Neytiri's father Eytukan (Wes Studi), during Hometree's destruction, so we'll see if the sequel deals with her ongoing grief.
- Played by Giovanni Ribisi
In the first Avatar film, company RDA was looking to exploit Pandora's natural resources in pursuit of the priceless unobtanium. Slimy corporate suit Parker was in charge of the operation, working hand in hand with Quaritch's military forces, but eventually, he was banished back to planet Earth.
- Played by Jack Champion
Miles 'Spider' Socorro is described as a teenager born on Hell's Gate (the human base on Pandora in the first film). He was rescued and adopted by Jake and Neytiri and "prefers his time in the Pandoran rainforest".
13. Dr. Karina Mogue
- Played by Michelle Yeoh
The excellent Michelle Yeoh is currently riding high after her lead performance in this year's breakout indie hit Everything Everywhere All At Once. She's therefore a welcome addition to the expansive Avatar cast. That said, there aren't many details about her character, Karina Mogue. Watch this space.
14. General Frances Ardmore
- Played by Edie Falco
The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie veteran Edie Falco plays General Ardmore. Given that most of the military personnel in the Avatar universe are unsympathetic, we'd have to assume that she's playing a villain. Maybe Admore is a high-ranking military figure assigned to protect the interests of a reinvigorated RDA?
15. Dr. Ian Garvin
- Played by Jemaine Clement
Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement is sure to add much-needed comic relief in his role as Ian Garvin.
Are you ready to return to Pandora? Click here to book your tickets for Avatar: The Way of Water, opening at Cineworld on December 16.