The World Of Pandora And 5 Other Things To Remember About Avatar Before The Way Of Water

Pandora in Avatar
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

After years of anticipation and uncertainty surrounding the long-in-the-works project, the release of Avatar: The Way of Water is right around the corner. But before we all file into theaters, put on our 3D glasses, and jump back into the beautiful and dangerous world of Pandora, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to go back and revisit James Cameron’s box office juggernaut and remember some of the major events and concepts from Avatar.

If you don’t have the time to spend nearly three hours watching Jake Sully become one with the Na’vi people to protect the sacred land from humanity and its quest to secure Pandora’s vast resources, don’t worry, because we are about to break down a few things to remember before the next adventure begins.

Giovanni Ribisi holding a piece of unobtanium in Avatar

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Humans Come To Pandora To Mine Unobtanium

By the time Avatar starts, in the year 2154, humans have been traveling to Pandora, a moon in the distant Alpha Centauri star system, to mine the extremely valuable mineral, unobtanium, which is worth $20 million per kilogram. But, there is just one problem for the Resources Development Administration (RDA) and its quest to mine the fortune-changing material: Pandora, although beautiful, is full of danger around every corner.

Whether it’s the flora, fauna, or even poisonous gaseous air, everything on the moon is trying to kill the humans, including the Na’vi people (10-foot-tall blue humanoids) whose sacred ground is the site of the biggest unobtanium deposit in the area. On one side, there are the scientists attempting to live in concert with the Na’vi to forge new bonds, while the other, more militaristic side, wants to remove them from their hallowed ground by any means necessary. 

Sam Worthington sits in front of his Na'vi tank in Avatar.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The Avatar Program Allows Jake Sully To Enter A Na’vi-Human Hybrid 

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic Marine without the faintest understanding of science, the Na’vi people, or Pandora, comes to the alien world in place of his twin brother, who died before he could make the six-year journey from Earth. Although he lost the ability to use his legs in combat, the former soldier is able to walk once again as part of the Avatar program that allows him to remotely control a human/Na’vi hybrid that is better equipped for the dangerous location.

Jake initially starts out as a grunt and bodyguard working alongside Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), but that all changes after a chance encounter with fate leaves him separated from his group and lost in the middle of the Pandoran jungle. After being rescued by a Na’vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), Jake begins to learn of a greater purpose for himself as he enters the Na’vi’s domain.

Neytiri in Avatar

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

All Life On Pandora Is Connected To A Deity Known As Eywa

All life on Pandora is connected by Eywa, a deity the Na’vi call the All-Mother and Great Mother. The concept is introduced very early on in the movie by Dr. Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) before Jake even meets the Na’vi people, and the deity, her power, and place in the hearts of the Pandoran natives becomes a major part of Avatar as the story unfolds.

As Jake learns, and later experiences for himself, Eywa is the driving life force of the alien moon and keeps its various systems in check to ensure stability and sustainability for generations to come. This is seen multiple times throughout the movie when Jake and the other Na’vi connect with the direhorses and mountain banshees. It is also how Jake forms a connection with the Tree of Souls to contact Eywa and pray for help in the Na’vi fight against the humans.

Zoe Saldana in Avatar.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Jake Forms A Strong Bond With The Tribal Chief’s Daughter, Neytiri

When Avatar: The Way of Water resumes James Cameron’s epic saga, Jake and Neytiri will have been married for 14 years and have children of their own, as their shared journey was just beginning in Avatar. After being saved and brought with her to her village, the former Marine, claiming to be a warrior from the “Jarhead” clan, begins to earn the respect and trust of the Na’vi, whose leaders pair up with Neytiri for training so he can learn their ways.

Though she initially has no time, patience, or respect for the “Dreamwalker,” Neytiri eventually comes around and forms an incredibly close bond with Jake, eventually becoming mates (which is further explored in an extended scene). The pair become nearly inseparable, but their budding relationship is put to the ultimate test when the humans decide to attack the Na’vi and forcibly remove them from their sacred land. 

Stephen Lang in Avatar

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The Humans, Led By Colonel Miles Quaritch, Destroy The Hometree To Remove The Na’vi

When Dr. Grace Augustine and Jake Sully’s plan to convince the Na’vi to leave their home so the humans can strip the land of its natural resources fails, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) puts his plan in motion to destroy the Hometree and take what he believes belongs to the RDA. The barrage of artillery and firepower not only destroys the Na’vi homeland, it claims their chief and countless other warriors.

Jake and Grace, in their human forms, are later captured by Quaritch’s forces and placed into captivity where they are eventually rescued. However, during their escape, Grace is shot and later succumbs to her wounds as it is too late to have her spirit transferred from her human body to that of her Na’vi.

Not willing to let things go, Quaritch attempts to wipe out the Na’vi for good with a full-on assault of the Tree of Souls, a place the overzealous soldier believes to be the most spiritually significant place for the Na’vi. But the attempt to destroy the tree is thwarted by Jake and his pleas to Eywa to help save the tree, the Na’vi, and life on Pandora. In the ensuing battle, Neytiri and Jake are able to kill Quartich and prevent his plan from being carried out successfully.

Jake Sully permanently entering his avatar in Avatar

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Jake Uses The Tree Of Souls To Permanently Enter His Avatar 

After Quaritch and his forces are defeated in the final battle, the vast majority of the humans at the RDA compound are forced to leave Pandora, with only Jake, Norm, and a handful of others staying back to continue their research and journey with the Na’vi. Having earned his place among the native population, Jake decides that he wishes to leave his human body for good and fully become a Na’vi to live out the rest of his life.

In the closing minutes of Avatar, Jake does just that in a ceremony that will transfer his consciousness to his avatar once and for all. Unlike Grace, who was too far gone to survive the process, Jake’s is successful and he awakes in his new body as the movie comes to an end. 

While this will certainly help out when you start Avatar: The Way of Water and its mammoth runtime, the best way to get caught up is by watching Avatar again after all these years. And, it’s never been easier to do so, as anyone with a Disney+ subscription can watch it right now.

Stream Avatar on Disney+.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.