James Cameron's Avatar was reportedly in development for over a decade before it finally hit theaters in 2009, setting a worldwide box-office record that has yet to be bested. Originally two sequels were planned to round out the series into a trilogy. That has since expanded into four additional chapters, which have demanded all new technological breakthroughs in VFX to realize. All said, when the first sequel (hopefully) hits theaters in late 2018, it will have nearly been another decade since sci-fi fans saw the original.
Despite taking two Na'vi sized arrows to the chest at the end of the first film, the villainous Colonel Quaritch's return to Pandora has long since been confirmed by both James Cameron and actor Stephen Lang (Don't Breathe). When asked how this was possible, Cameron wouldn't go into details, but did reveal "His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga."
In an interview with Mashable about his role as the blind antagonist of Don't Breathe, Lang was asked about his upcoming role. While he didn't reveal any major new character details, he did piggy-back off of Cameron's original statement.
"Well, I can say because it's a matter of public record, that the character of Colonel Quaritch is important in each of the films — Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5."
Since the sequels had expanded, it was unclear whether or not Lang's role in them would be as well, but this certainly seems to be the case. Not much is known about the sequels to Avatar, other than that they will travel to the oceans of Pandora and the planets surrounding it. How Lang's character returns from the dead is an even bigger mystery, but Cameron did explain that Sigourney Weaver's (similarly deceased) character would also be returning as "a different, and in many ways more challenging character." Perhaps they both return as A.I. memories, similar to Superman's father Jor-El (played by Russel Crowe in Man of Steel)? They could also be clones, spirits absorbed by Pandora's flora, or maybe they just both had twin siblings?
An even more important question is whether or not Colonel Quaritch will be returning as a villain. He certainly didn't seem like the type to admit he was wrong in Avatar, but it's easy to imagine that death has a way of changing people. With any luck, we'll know when the movie releases in another two years.
Avatar 2 is expected to reach theaters in December 2018, followed by Avatar 3 in December 2020, Avatar 4 in December 2022, and Avatar 5 in December 2023.