Avatar 2’s Writers Explains Neytiri’s Beef With Spider In The Way Of Water

Spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water lie ahead, so read at your own risk.

As many saw in Avatar: The Way of Water, a lot changed for Jake Sully following the events of the first movie. In the years since they defended Pandora, Jake and Neytiri created a family consisting of three biological children and one adopted Na’vi teenager. And of course, there’s Spider, the human child who was born and had to remain on the planet. Though the young man is loved by most of the Sullys, Neytiri has a problem with him being in their lives, and the writers of the Oscar-nominated film explain why that's the case.

Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldaña, went through a lot in the 2009 film, particularly that tense war with the Sky People. They caused destruction to Pandora in an attempt mine the valuable mineral unobtainium, which is prevalent on the massive planet. As Avatar: The Way of Water writer Amanda Silver explained to The Wrap, this plays into her disdain for Jack Champion's Spider, and the scribe also discussed what it means for Neytiri as a character:

You understand how much the forest and the Omatikaya and the planet means to Neytiri. The fact that it’s been so threatened and thwarted in such a heartless way by the RDA, you understand where she’s coming from, why she’s so angry, and that’s part of the fun when she gets together with Jake. But then they have their own kids who are mixed race, if you will, or mixed species. And then they’re Spider, they call him Pink, meaning human. It’s a way of exploring… I mean, Neytiri is a fully fleshed-out character. She’s got flaws. So it’s okay to let her have flaws, we think. And that’s where Jim was coming from.

The dynamic between Jake, Neytiri, and Spider is incredibly complex. The human boy was seen as more of a surrogate child of the Sully family, as he grew up with Jake and Neytiri’s kids. But all the latter can think of when she sees him is destruction, and she'd definitely like nothing more than for him to remain among the humans. And of course, it doesn’t help that Spider is the son of Colonel Miles Quaritch, who Neytiri killed in an act of revenge at the end of the first movie. Stephen Lang's villainous was, of course, revived for the sequel, and his knowledge of Spider's lineage shook things up a bit.

Spider, whose real name is Miles Socorro, may be human, but he was raised among the Na’vi. So he’s very familiar with their ways and seems to have a lot of respect for the culture. Still, that doesn't deter Neytiri from not trusting him. It's a tough situation but, as Amanda Silver said, it speaks to her complexities as a character. It's also clear that this plot thread is far from being resolved, especially since Neytiri nearly killed Socorro when Quaritch used Kiri as a hostage.

By the end of the film, the young man seems to be as close to the Sully family as ever, though what Jake doesn’t know is that Spider made the final decision to save Quaritch from drowning after he was left for dead. I don't know about you, but I have sneaking suspicion that's going to come back into play in the next movie. Also, though his choice might be polarizing, many could definitely still argue that Spider is one of the best characters introduced in Avatar 2

I'm intrigued to see if (or how) Neytiri's feelings towards the boy change. All the while, the Sully's reaction to his big decision will remain one of the burning questions fans have after Way of Water. Chances are that James Cameron is weaving a compelling story arc -- and one that may not pan out the way we think it will. 

You'll likely get those answers when Avatar 3 hits theaters on December 20, 2024. In the meantime, you can still see The Way of Water in theaters now and stream the original film using a Disney+ subscription. And make sure to check out our 2023 movie releases for info on upcoming big-screen fare.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.