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What to know before watching the sequel, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’

“Avatar” was released 13 years ago, in 2009. Before watching the sequel, refresh yourself on the plot and characters in the movie

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Sam Worthington in Avatar (2009).

Ready for “Avatar: The Way of the Water”? Here’s everything you need to know.

Twentieth Century Fox

“Avatar,” the 2009 movie directed by James Cameron, is the highest-grossing movie of all time — with a gross of over $2.8 billion, per USA Today. The long-awaited sequel (13 years in the making to be exact) comes to theaters Dec. 16.

Maybe you haven’t seen “Avatar” since its 2009 release, or perhaps you’ve never seen it all and you can’t carve out three hours before its release to refresh yourself on the plot.

Here’s what you need to know about “Avatar” before before you watch “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

A synopsis of ‘Avatar’ (2009)

It is 2154 and the Earth’s natural resources are diminishing. The Resources Development Administration is mining on Pandora, a lush moon light-years away from earth. Pandora is home to the valuable mineral, unobtanium, which sells for billions per kilogram on Earth. It is also inhabited by the Na’vi, 12-foot-tall, blue-skinned, golden-eyed humanoids who live in harmony with their environment, per IMDB.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a paralyzed former Marine who is recruited to take over his deceased identical twin brother’s position in the expedition to Pandora to bring unobtanium back to earth. Jake was selected because he is a perfect genetic match for his twin brother, Tommy (Sam Worthington), who operatives already made an expensive avatar suit for.

Humans are unable to breathe the air on Pandora. To explore Pandora in search of unobtanium, genetically matched humans take on Na’vi-human hybrids called “avatars.” The human consciousness is connected to the avatar, so while the avatars explore, the human in charge remains isolated. While in control of his avatar, Jake can walk again.

Jake is put in charge of escorting Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and Dr. Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore). But Jake’s avatar is threatened by a Pandoran animal, prompting Jake to flee until he is rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), a Na’vi woman. She takes Jake back to her clan and her mother Mo’at (CCH Pounder) orders her daughter to initiate Jake into their society. Once an official member of the Na’vi society, Jake and Neytiri fall in love.

Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) says he will make sure Jake receives the expensive surgery that will allow him to walk again in exchange for information about the Na’vi and the location of their gathering place, the Hometree, which has a large deposit of unobtanium.

Jake requests that he is given the opportunity to speak with the Na’vi and negotiate with them or convince them to leave before the administration mines at the Hometree, a process that will kill the Na’vi. Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) gives Jake and Grace one hour to convince the Na’vi to evacuate.

Jake confesses to the Na’vi that he was a spy, and they take him and Grace captive. Quaritch and his forces destroy the Hometree, killing Na’vi in the process — including Neytiri’s father, the clan chief. Mo’at frees Grace and Jake, but they are detached from their avatars, and Quaritch takes their human forms captive.

While attempting an escape from Quaritch, Grace is shot. Jake goes to the scared Tree of Souls, and begs Mo’at to heal Grace. With help from the Tree of Souls, Mo’at tries to permanently transfer Grace to her avatar, but fails.

Quaritch plans a strike against the Tree of Souls. The Na’vi are saved from Quaritch by the Pandoran wildlife, which Neytiri believes was a blessing from Ewya, the Na’vi deity. Quaritch escapes the destruction and breaks open the unit protecting Jake’s body from Pandora’s atmosphere. Neytiri saves Jake by killing Quaritch and transferring Jake to his avatar permanently.

Most humans are expelled from Pandora by the Na’vi.

Key details to know before watching ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’

  • Jake Sully was a paralyzed Marine vet who fell in love with Neytiri, a Na’vi woman. At the end of “Avatar,” Jake permanently takes on his avatar.
  • Pandora is a lush moon light-years away from earth, with unobtanium, a valuable mineral, that humans in “Avatar” wanted to mine and bring back to Earth as an energy source.
  • At the end of “Avatar,” the only humans that stay on Pandora are: Jake, Dr. Norm Spellbound, Dr. Max Patel and a few other scientists.
  • Dr. Grace Augustine dies at the end of “Avatar” after getting shot. She will not return in the sequel.
  • The Tree of Souls is a giant willow-like tree that the Na’vi believe to be the closest connection to Ewya, the Na’vi deity.

Which stars are returning for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water?’

Quite a few of the stars from “Avatar” will reprise their roles for “Avatar: The Way of Water” reports ScreenRant. Here are some of the favorites that will reappear in the sequel.

  • Zoe Saldaña will reprise her role as Neytiri, the Na’vi woman Jake falls in love with.
  • Sam Worthington will return as Jake Sully, the Marine vet who chose to live on Pandora permanently in his avatar form.
  • Joel David Moore, who plays Dr. Norm Spellbound — one of the few humans who was not kicked off Pandora at the end of “Avatar” will return in the sequel.
  • Giovanni Ribisi will reprise his role as Parker Selfridge, the antagonist and head of the mining operations who was willing to do almost anything to obtain unobtanium. At the end of the movie, he is seen back on earth.
  • Dileep Rao, who plays Dr. Max Patel, the civilian scientist who worked on the avatar program, will appear in the sequel. Max was allowed to remain on Pandora at the end of the movie.
  • Stephen Lang will return in the sequel as the antagonist Col. Miles Quaritch, the experienced soldier who worked for the Resources Development Administration and was willing to kill the Na’vi to get unobtanium.
  • CCH Pounder will reprise her role as Mo’at, Neytiri’s mother and the spiritual leader of the tribe in “Avatar.” Mo’at helped to permanently transfer Jake’s essence into his avatar body.
  • Matt Gerald, who portrayed Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet, the RDA solider and mercenary, was killed at the end of “Avatar,” but that is not stopping him from returning for the sequel.
  • Sigourney Weaver will also return — but not as Dr. Grace Augustine, who died attempting to fully transfer her essence into her avatar. In the sequel, Weaver will play Kiri, the adopted child of Jake and Neytiri.

Will there be more ‘Avatar’ sequels?

Yes. There are three more movies already scheduled for release — making the series five movies long.

  • “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Dec. 16, 2022.
  • Avatar 3, 2024.
  • Avatar 4, 2026.
  • Avatar 4, 2028.