Warning: Spoilers ahead for Avatar: The Way of Water.
While Avatar: Way of the Water didn’t explain what happened to a major Avatar character, Avatar 3 can fix this misstep. The marines seen in Avatar: Way of the Water (and particularly their leader Miles Quaritch) are a chilling, callous set of villains, they are not the real antagonists of the Avatar franchise. Viewers familiar with the original Avatar will recall that these marines take their orders from a set of commanders who, in turn, are beholden to a set of heartless bureaucrats who aren’t even involved in the war on Pandora themselves.
Instead, these corporate overlords direct the colonization of Pandora from afar. While Avatar 3 may keep Way of the Water plot elements in the sequel, the follow-up should clarify what happened to the humans running the invasion of Pandora. While viewers met these villains in Avatar before Jake Sully took on his Na’vi form and began spying on the natives, Avatar: Way of the Water essentially ignored their fate in the years since. This should not continue in Avatar 3 since the human villains who are in charge of Pandora’s colonization are more dangerous and powerful than any of the sequel’s lethal marines.
Avatar 3 Should Justify Parker Selfridge’s Absence
Avatar 3 should clarify what happened to Parker Selfridge, the real head of operations on Pandora. Played by Giovanni Ribisi, Selfridge was a company man who ranked above even Quaritch, but he doesn’t reappear in Avatar: Way of the Water. While Jack Champion’s Spider might be Avatar 3’s nascent villain, there is still time for the franchise to address Selfridge’s absence. The bureaucrat can be seen directing Quaritch as he records a video for his Na’vi avatar self, but in-universe this Avatar: Way of the Water cameo takes place before the ending of Avatar. As such, viewers have no way of knowing where Selfridge is now.
It would make sense for him to have been fired after the events of Avatar since his company failed to successfully colonize Pandora and defeat the Na’vi resistance. However, since Quaritch’s failure didn’t result in his dismissal, Selfridge could have been promoted in the years since Avatar’s events and he might now be above returning to the planet unless truly necessary. Avatar 3’s returning villains could include Selfridge if he was brought back to direct humanity’s latest attack on Pandora now that Jake Sully and company have launched an effective counter-attack.
Why Parker Wasn’t In The Way of Water
Parker was not seen in Avatar: Way of the Water (beyond his pre-recorded cameo) because there was no need for the character to appear in the sequel. Edie Falco’s General Francis Ardmore takes over Selfridge’s role although, since the Marines effectively work for Selfridge’s corporation in Avatar, it can be assumed that she still reports to Selfridge or his replacement. Since a major recurring theme in the Avatar movies is the military serving corporations (something that also crops up in other James Cameron franchises), it would make sense for Avatar 3 to bring back Avatar’s Selfridge now that Avatar: Way of the Water proved Pandora wouldn’t be overtaken easily.
More: Why Neytiri’s Anger Toward Spider Makes No Sense in Avatar: The Way of Water