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After years of delays and sometimes no news at all, the Avatar sequels are now shifting into high gear as all four of them go into simultaneous production. Another piece of casting news has been announced. And this one is as odd as the rest. Matt Gerald is set to reprise his role from the first Avatar movie as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet. This makes Gerald, at a minimum, the third actor to return to the series after seeing his character die in the first movie.
It was already curious when we were told that both Sigourney Weaver and Steven Lang would be back for the Avatar sequels, but now, with the addition of Matt Gerald, and according to Deadline, he's back for all the sequels, we have three characters who died in Avatar but will somehow return. Corporal Lyle Wainfleet was not a major character in the first film. He was originally part of the security detail for Weaver's character, Dr. Grace Augustine, before becoming a soldier in the Battle of Pandora at the end of the movie. In the film's final battle Wainfleet gets attacked in his battle armor by one of Pandora's massive creatures. He was trampled beneath some pretty massive feet which made his death a fairly certain thing.
While the report that Matt Gerald will be returning for the Avatar sequels doesn't give any indication as to how he'll be back, one would assume his return will be handled in a similar fashion to that of Steven Lang, which is not to say that we have any idea how that will be done. Apparently, James Cameron had a plan for bringing Lang back from the beginning but we don't really know how it will work. At least Sigourney Weaver's character was in the middle of having her consciousness transferred elsewhere when she passed away, which gives us at least a hint of how she'll be back. In the case of characters who just died while on the planet, we have no idea how that might work. Still, it would seem that dying in an Avatar movie is the equivalent of dying in a comic book. It doesn't really mean you're dead.
The first Avatar sequel is set to drop in December of 2020. after that, three more movies will follow, but all four movies are being produced simultaneously, which is a massive undertaking, but just the sort of thing we would expect from James Cameron. The work on digital effects has already begun and filming is likely to start soon. In addition to all the dead characters who will be back for the sequels, the ones that survived, like the characters played by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana will also be back.