“We were parents, whereas in the first film we were not,” Zoe Saldaña told ScreenRant. “We were reckless and accepted every challenge presented to us head on. Obviously, we still carried that kind of mentality, it just took a little more time, 10 years or so later.”
In the first “Avatar,” Jake and Neytiri’s forbidden human/Na’vi romance served as the emotional core. Neytiri was able to train and immerse Jake into the culture of the Omatikaya clan and, leveraging her status as a princess, successfully vouched for his character despite the prejudices against humans. It was risky, obviously, seeing as Jake’s initial mission was to destroy the Na’vi from the inside — but she trusted her heart. Jake similarly took huge, determined risks in the first film. His endeavor to go against a massive corporation and choose to fight for the Na’vi leaves him in a vulnerable position that leads to the death of his friend and collaborator, Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver).
In “The Way of Water,” the Neytiri and Jake we are reintroduced to are parents, but they’re also protectors of the remaining Omatikaya. After going to battle with humankind before, they’re even more careful and set high expectations for their children to follow their example. In the first act, the Sully children are attacked by Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and narrowly escape. It’s here where Jake makes a huge decision that affects the well-being of his family: Leaving the Omatikaya clan to find shelter somewhere else.