When we first met Jake Sully, he was but a simple marine drafted into a conflict he didn’t ask to be involved in, all because he was the only person compatible with the avatar made for his late brother. He was manipulated with the promise of getting the use of his legs back when the healthcare available for veterans wasn’t enough, all while he was slowly falling in love with the culture and world of Pandora.
Sully is quickly embraced by the Na’vi when he fulfills the prophecy of the Toruk Makto, uniting the clans and becoming their white savior, or blue Lisan al Gaib, and defeating the genocidal, imperialistic human forces. By the end of the movie, Jake had accomplished more than many protagonists do in the course of entire trilogies. Of course, this meant he needed to be taken down a peg or two — like Spider-Man in “Spider-Man 2,” or Bruce Wayne at the end of “The Dark Knight.”
Indeed, when we catch up to Jake Sully in “The Way of Water,” he has more to lose than ever before. Sure, in the first one, his defeat would have meant the end of the entire Omaticaya clan, but now it’s personal because he has a family to protect. As Cameron himself said, “Jake and Neytiri have taken it upon themselves to try to save their world from these hostile colonizers from Earth. But at what point do you have to lay down your guns?” For Jake, this means wanting to keep fighting the human invaders, but having to run away and protect his family from a resurrected Miles Quaritch, the coolest character in the film.