Jake and Neytiri have been through a lot in the roughly 14 years that have passed between “Avatar” and “The Way of Water.” They lived in relative peace for a long time until the Sky People returned and threatened their way of life. We see an early exciting sequence in the sequel where Jake and Neytiri fight the humans, but when their children are in danger, they realize they have more to protect than just themselves.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Sam Worthington describes his character’s development: “I think they’re always warriors. They just are, be it a jarhead or be it the daughter of the chief of the Omaticaya clan. And I think it was imposed on them in a way to lead the people. But that responsibility is far outweighed when you have children, having children is the greatest responsibility you can have. If the couple never had children, their attention would likely be on protecting their people at all costs and continuing to fight the Sky People until they were finally safe. But with children in the picture, they have to be on the defensive.
Zoe Saldana reinforces this point: “And when do you push and when do you pull? I feel like that kind of relatable struggle of parents and their kids to love them so much but sometimes to realize that you’ve fallen in love so hard that you’re grasping too hard. And you have to let go. Worthington and Saldana are both real-life parents, so they undoubtedly drew on real-life experiences to better flesh out their character arcs.