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     So why do the RDA go through the GIANT FRICKING BLACKOUT FIELD that allows only LoS firing? 
These are not stupid people designing suicide aircraft. These are designed for (theoretically) military use. So WHY, for God's sake, are these same aircraft able to use missiles several times throughout the battle? Also, why not just go under the floaty rocks? Or— radical idea, I know, but bear with me here— go AROUND them? No sane commander would fly blind into a likely shitstorm, knowing that he had no eyes or ears, and that at any moment hundreds of angry, capable, and sense-y baddies would swoop down on his (supposedly) missile-less ass. Quaritch isn't so badass that it precludes stupidity.
  • The Hallelujah Mountains surround the Tree of Souls in the air. Going around would get you nowhere. Also, if you paid a bit more attention, you'd notice that the Valkyrie shuttle and the VTOLs were already very close to the ground; they were technically going 'under' the rocks already. When your opponent's weak spot is in a crappy area, you still have to attack that weak point regardless of how bad the surrounding environment is.
    • As for why the gunships could use missiles anyway, the field doesn't prevent them from firing missiles, it prevents them from using guided missiles. They can certainly dumb-fire the things for all they're worth.
      • I don't remember clearly, I've seen the movie only once, but I do recall that thermal imagery still worked. Maybe the missiles were IR-guided and their guidance was not affected by the field. This is supported by the fact the first time Trudy flies trough the area of the mountains she says she is using visual flight rules, this implies, that radio navigation aids are jammed by the field and supposedly other sensitive electronic equipment, but not the hardened electronics (stated by word of god on the official sites to exist) of the flight control system. IR Missiles are practically hardened electronics, a rocket engine, thermal imagery seeker and warhead.
      • Not a bad idea, but there's nothing in the movie to confirm or refute this claim. Most missiles fired in the flux vortex were very short range, so who knows.
      • IR tracking could theoretically work, but IR-guided missiles are designed to work on engine exhaust, not body heat. Not to mention all the exploding gunships would VERY quickly throw their guidance off.
  • Or how about, I don't know, going UP? Your space shuttle has a higher operational ceiling than a bird/lizard. I was waiting for a rock to fall and crush them. Also, 15-20 minute decent to bombing level vs hours long trek through a giant killzone that panders to your enemies strengths? Who approved that plan?
    • Who said they were spending hours traveling through a killzone? They were only in the area for a few minutes. Besides, if they ascend over the area, that's going to make dropping the bombs out the bay that much harder. These aren't precision-dropped munitions; they're jury-rigged charges being literally pushed out the back of a moving aircraft. Even WWII bombers had sights to aim their bombs, something the RDA doesn't. They'll have to be low to the ground to get anything vaguely resembling accuracy.
    • Furthermore, all aircraft in the flux vortex are going by Visual Flight Rules. The basis of this is that they have to use their own sight to determine whether or not their craft is level with the ground. And generally speaking, if you get farther away from the ground, it gets harder to use said ground as your basis. If you're using VFR, you're sticking to low altitudes.
  • but the flux has to have a vertical limit to it's effect, It's not a planetary effect. and they have multiple computers for calculating reentry and landing vectors, while a WW2 bomb sight is a downward facing optical lens. you have a base full of computers, pilots, and materials and NO ONE can calculate the drop angle of a cube? or how about a dive from outside the flux field, reaching the tree valley in seconds, giving you time to "unload" before the banshees can react to your arrival? or does the flux affect altimeters and gyroscopes 'somehow'. The mountains have to be relatively stationary or they'd fall once the moved from the magnetic field, so you know where they'd be and could plot around them.
    • Considering the fact that it's a moon's magnetic field, the vertical height would go above the maximum height of the helicopters. If you think WW2 bomb sights were accurate (or that shuttles carry them) then you are honestly being intentionally obtuse. A dive 'in seconds' would turn the shuttle into burning debris not to mention the simple fact that it is not an atmospheric aircraft. It is not designed to make dives, it has no provision for doing anything within one (I doubt someone like you would realise, but in a dive, an aircraft is generally pitched downwards), and if it was attempted, its engine configuration would make one completely unrecoverable.
    • No doubt the techies at Hell's Gate crunched the numbers on drop times with some basic physics, but the bomb dropping mechanism is two guys pushing a large crate off a ramp. There's no mechanical precision. And when you consider that, lower altitudes is better since the window of opportunity is much longer in proportion. Additionally, having the Valkyrie do a steep dive and then have those two guys push said crate out of the cargo bay as the craft starts breaking upwards is just wishful thinking.
    • Watch the entry the shuttle does from the ISV, a steep decent that slows the craft and ends in a hover above the base. Take that same maneuver and plot it so it ends hovering over the tree. they already break the laws of physics by having the shuttle hold enough fuel to do slow hovering flight 'somehow' given how horribly inefficient vtol aircraft are at that.
      • An atmospheric entry versus a low altitude dive? You fail physics forever. The transition from orbital flight to hover happens over SEVERAL MILES at low speed in a clear area. Indeed, the fact that the hover is only at low altitudes perfectly proves your own point, that VTOL is an inefficient mode of travel, being far more effective closer to the ground, and therefore you have completely disproved your own point.
      • Vtol is inefficient because it uses too much fuel to generate downward thrust sufficient to hover; height has 'nothing' to do with it, it has to do with fuel consumption. Also Vtol is not a mode of travel.
      • It is a mode of travel when moving forward while in hover mode. Air density DOES affect the available power - altitude lowering engine thrust can affect the performance of aircraft significantly in terms of takeoff and landing.
      • The point is the Valkyrie would use up its fuel much faster by moving at a hover; there would not be enough fuel to get anywhere, especially at the speed of a formation of Sampsons.
      • ...and there's another answer as to why they didn't do it.
    • The flux vortex is likely similar to the one between Jupiter and most of its moons i.e. the "upper" end of the flux column is the gas giant itself.

     Why isn't there an "Avatar Oversight Commitee"? 
"Mr. Sully, we are very pleased at all the progress you've made with the natives recently, and though we are not against you enjoying your time in the Avatar system, it has regretably come to our attention that you may be taking this program a little too seriously for your own health. We understand your "priorities", but your body seems to be degrading due to your own neglect. We must recommend you take a three week break and small psychological evaluation before we let you go back in. We appologise for any inconvience to you, or to the Program as a whole."
  • "Avatar Oversight" is being run by the scientists who are watching over the entire program. More importantly, as they pointed out very clearly in the movie, Sully is on the clock here. Taking three weeks off when he needs to earn the trust of the natives inside of three months to convince them to move out is not exactly the brightest idea.
    • He clearly doesn't care about the timeline here, why would it matter if he was there not doing his job or outside not doing his job?
    • Except he was doing his job. He was gathering intelligence. He was learning about the Na'vi's culture. He was building their trust. You kinda have to do those last two things if you're going to hope to negotiate with them, and the first was outright stated by Quaritch and was subsequently followed by Sully.
      • So, short form: if there weren't so much time pressure, one of his bosses (Quaritch, Dr. Augustine, or both) would probably have started putting pressure on him to take better care of himself. As it was, Quaritch wanted to get all the intel he could as fast as possible, and Dr. Augustine wanted to learn as much about the natives as possible. Both considered the decline of Sully's health to be an acceptable price to pay because of the emergency, as did Sully himself.
    • In the deleted scenes, Grace does mention to Jake that he is losing weight when he doesn't want to eat in his human body.

     The actions of the humans on the planet 
  • Alright, so there's Unobtanium everywhere on the planet. So why did the humans choose to mine in the rainforests, where there was the highest concentration of Na'Vi, they were most likely to break something that they shouldn't have, there were numerous trees obstructing the mining locations, and the highest chance to invoke Gaia's Vengeance. The movie shows that there are non-forested locations on the planet, like the plains regions. Why doesn't the mining company look for Unobtanium there?
    • Maybe there was a higher concentration in the mountains. And maybe there simply wasn't any in the plains.
      • This Troper always thought that the mountains were off-limits because, if too much mining was done, there wouldn't be enough unobtanium to support their hovering, and they would come crashing down. This would be catastrophic.
    • Apparently "Each Hometree is located above a rich deposit of unobtanium" (says the avatar wiki), which explains why they go to the forest (maybe the unobtanium causes the trees to grow huge or something)
      • There's no canon source for that.
    • It's implied, though not stated outright that the Unobtanium has something to do with the planet's sentience, and that the points of high concentration are important neural nodes. It helps that the actual properties of the stuff are never even remotely explained.
      • Also incorrect.
      • According to the movie's wiki, it is some sort of room-temperature super-conductor. So, given that the planet-tree-brain-thing was already compared to a computer network, it... sort of makes sense that unobtainium might be involved in some way? Either it's an ingredient in those biological wires that connect everything (or at least the ones in the main "nodes"), or maybe it's the remains of previously dead bio-wires, from long-gone trees...
      • I like to think that the network of interconnected flora is somehow purifying the Pandoran soil, with Unobtanium as the byproduct, along with whatever other poisons the plants exhale. If the same process could be duplicated on Earth, with some way to control the poisons the plants give off and a short enough turnaround time, there would be no need to mine for the ore, plus you get the added bonus of repairing the Earth's biosphere. A mining concern should have on-site geologists; why didn't they team up with the biologists to see if there was a connection between the giant trees and the ore beyond "stuff grows big?"
      • It was created in the conditions during the formation of the solar system - the presence of it under one specific Hometree is coincidental. There IS a plant that removes metals from the soil, which is being investigated for use on Earth in polluted areas, but it is unrelated to the network specifically.
  • My question is more, why didn't they make a deal to dig under the land, but not bother the surface at all? I.E. go "we'll make a facility here, with an entrance to a long tunnel leading under the ground to the deposit we want. We mine underneath, are careful to avoid the roots, and get the minerals we want without bothering you. You can even help us out a bit, if you want and we can figure out a way to pay you.". Sure it might be a little more expensive, but they won't have to deal with kicking out the natives.
    • The humans don't have anything that is needed in the first place.
    • Shaft mining isn't as pragmatic as strip mining. Especially when your mining equipment comes from a source that is a few light-years away and transportation costs several billion dollars for each piece of equipment.
    • The biggest source is under the village, thye can tunnel it out milkshake style but Na'vi would likely get wise about it when the ground is starting weaken under them and it's possible the trees connection won't like it.

     The humans leaving. 
  • I was surprised the Na'vi could even feel hopeful at all when the humans left, let alone feel they had won. It's not like there isn't tonnes of unobtanium on the planet any more - so there's nothing stopping the humans returning. And that's just more people from the mining company. When earth gets news of Colonel Miles Quaritch's Last Stand against thousands of vicious blue aliens led by The Mole, I don't think they'll be happy. So now it won't be a PR problem when they burn the jungle and stripmine the place. And the humans that stay should at least have some idea, from their knowledge of history - the natives always lose in the end. So - why's the ending portrayed as a happy one for the protagonists?
    • Hell's Gate is controlled by Na'vi and scientists now. You send the REAL story back to Earth (plenty of proof), it arrives ahead of the ~0.7C ISV, the RDA don't know to suppress it in time, the real story gets out. Also, for that matter, the scientists therefore control the only safe landing zone, in addition to a large amount of anti-aircraft weaponry. Not to mention the fact that the RDA broke the terms of their contract in numerous ways and may even be in danger of losing it as a result. Not to mention the astronomical cost of travel to Pandora, returning empty-handed (and with all the marines dead and massive equipment losses, at that) is likely to cost them an extreme amount both in money and reputation.
    • Because the movie is a huge wish-fulfillment fantasy, because it takes long time and massive resources to even travel to Pandora and because the company broke a large number of international treaties in the process of waging a private war against the Na'vi, and is probably up to its ears in legal trouble and debts.
      • Would've been nice if this was made more clear to the audience, though.
    • The Scriptment says that in addition to Unobtainium the planet has been curing human diseases to protect itself (I think), and RDA/ICA is getting rich off these cures. At the end, Jake warns the humans that if they ever come back again Pandora will wipe them out with a virus (he's bluffing, but it works). Combined with all Everything Trying to Kill You that should be enough to keep the humans away.
      • That didn't end up in the finished product, so it didn't happen, unless it's spared for the sequel.
    • Never mind cures, public outrage, or $20m/kilo rocks. In case you missed it, the final scene reveals that Eywa can transfer minds permanently to new bodies. It wouldn't matter if all Pandora was made of solid Unobtanium with a Phlebotinum coating: nobody is going to strip-mine a planet that, left intact, holds the key to physical immortality.
  • $20m/kilo? I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. Let's face it, that's what's going to happen. Tell you what, we'll flatten this half for our Unobtanium, and you can have that half for your miracle cures, especially since without our half, you won't be able to get here for your half. I really doubt any Earth government is really going to care about some blue catgirls billions of miles away if that's what it takes to keep the world running. Humans will return, and this time, they won't bother landing until everything is dead.
    • Congratulations, you just destroyed the unobtainium. Anyway, as mentioned above, the RDA are limited in what weapons they HAVE and can use.
    • Yeah, except they were already blowing countless billions on the Avatar program to avoid precisely that issue. PR issues are preventing them from doing that in the first place, and I don't think a PR problem that's so severe that it requires that kind of expenditure on a world that far away to mollify is going to go away so easily. If the RDA is spending that much money on a program that far away in an effort to keep the morality hounds back on Earth at bay, just imagine how far up their asses the objectors have to be. I'm imagining some horrific fusion of Greenpeace and the Imperium of Man.
      • Yeah, they spent billions of dollars on the Avatar program, and it failed utterly. With that in mind, they would certainly come back and obliterate the Na'vi from orbit. And, seeing as how they would then be to soul custodians of a multi-multi-multi-multi trillion dollar planet that is located 7 years away from any witnesses and that they would control the soul means of traveling to that planet, they'd more than likely get away Scott-free.
      • Again, hampered by the fact that they physically can't. Why do you think they were trying to maintain good relation wit ht the Na'vi? Becasue they weren't able to use any stronger weapons.
      • They can't do that. They've been spending billions on the Avatar program to withstand PR hounds, and if they add genocide to their list of accomplishments, the investors are going to balk, the PR hounds are going to skewer them, and the courts are going to have them on trial for war crimes. Not going to happen.
    • Also, it's possible to mine Unobtainium without wrecking the planet. Ideally, what the natives would want to do is set up some kind of planetary government that could negotiate a treaty and some kind of mining rights with the humans. As it was, RDA got the mining license from Earth without any consideration of the natives' opinion or rights, but that could change now that the Pandorans have proven that they have some degree of organization and at least limited ability to defend themselves.
    • Actually, it isn't. Any form of mining destroys or at least negatively affects local ecosystems. Hell, the humans were committing to strip mining, which is the most destructive form of mining. After seeing that, there's no way the Na'vi would create any form of treaty or license with the humans, regardless of the existence of a planetary government.
  • There's an economic side to this also: as soon as word gets back home that RDA has been sent packing, the price of unobtanium and anything made with it will skyrocket faster than you can say "oil embargo". If this stuff is half as useful as we're led to believe, this will create a powerful incentive for someone to go back with a full-fledged invasion force to take the now-worth-a-lot-more-than-$20M-a-kilo unobtainium. It's also going to create a powerful incentive for humanity, fed up with high prices, to look the other way as this happens. Jake and the Na'Vi should really be negotiating while they have the upper hand. "You can stay if you follow our rules - low-impact underground mining only at sites we approve, and your security force has to lose the firearms and learn archery" could be a long-term sustainable arrangement. "Yankee go home" will likely cause everything to end in tears.
    • Except that it's a superconductor, not plastic/fuel. Applications are by nature limited.
  • I just realised something. If you blow up the forests, you risk blowing up the unobtanium under them.
    • Also, if you nuke the entire planet (not exactly as easy as it sounds... planets are big places) and screw over the entire ecosystem... that also screws over some very important natural resources. Like water, sunlight, and (sorta) breathable air (among other things). No water means you'd need to ship it in or purify it on a mass scale. No sunlight means a highly reduced ability to produce food meaning shipping it in or an incredibly expanded indoor garden. No air means more expensive air filters (among other things) for human and machinery. Basically at this point, you're blowing up a planet and (re-)colonizing the planet just so you can work there.
    • Unobtanium is an element. You fail physics forever. And 'nuking' is just a paraphrase for 'blowing it all to hell.' Seriously, all it would take to wipe the biosphere of Pandora is for the RDA to "accidentally" eject a hunk of tungsten roughly the size of a fridge at precisely the right angle as they slow down their relativistically moving the ship. The size of a fridge. And no more Na'vi.
      • You fail physics forever. Structures, ESPECIALLY crystalline ones and some metals, can EASILY be damaged, altered or destroyed by extreme conditions. Superconductors even more so. Any chunk of tungsten would be captured by Polyphemus' gravity well.
    • No need for something that big. Just a cluster of smaller ones for destroying the Trees and clear out any significant tech on the surface to demoralize the natives. Then keep doing it until they give.
      • Yet again, you fail physics forever. This isn't a soft scifi setting, not only are there no space-based weapons and cargo capacity and capabilities on the IS Vs are actually realistic, but a smaller object will be destroyed more easily. The physics of doing so on a moon around a gas giant is also completely different.
  • About the PR issue, their's this little thing called "LIEING". What's to stop the RDA or some other PMC or Military from just sending a single ship full of completely trustworthy Quatricth type fellows to nuke the place from orbit. Na'vi dead, no PR backlash, unobtanium ready to be gotten at.
    • It's spelled "Lying," actually. As to what's stopping them? I don't know how the hell you missed this little tidbit, but sending anything to Pandora takes several years, and costs a metric fuckton of money, and you need to launch a godsdamn space ship. You can't really hide something like that.

      And say it did happen, and all of a sudden Unobtainium is plentiful...you don't think people are going to wonder just why that happened? You know, like all the people who were actively protesting it in the first place? Pandora is a well-known place in the 'verse, it's not some secret that nobody knows about.
  • I assumed that Jake's faction sent along a few of their own people to run the ship in order to prevent the corporation from just turning around and landing somewhere else, and they would give the ICA a fully documented list of warcrimes that RDA committed in order to ensure more strenuous ethical oversight in any future interactions with Pandora. They could also use the Unobtanium that was under the now burned out Home Tree and the arguably infinitely more valuable scientific discoveries that are implied by the entire Eywa system as financial leverage.
    • If "Jake's faction sent along a few of their own people to run the ship," then those people are as good as dead. I doubt any Na'vi would willingly choose to ride into the stars with these murderous aliens, and the scientists are... scientists. Jake was the only sympathetic character with military training. On the other hand, RDA's military detachment would overpower them in a flash. Then there's all the delicate routine operations involved with the travel home —docking with the Venture Star, putting people into hibernation cycles, operating both the spacebound shuttle and the Venture herself, communications with Earth or any interstellar home bases... At one point, any babysitters that Jake sent up with the RDA force would be in a vulnerable position (for one thing, they can't all remain awake throughout the whole trip, and putting them in hibernation cycles would only diminish their forces) and then they'd be captured, probably killed.
      And speaking of which... what warcrimes? Like said above, any Na'vi-sympathizing babysitters aboard the Venture would be killed or disposed of. The returning crew could then easily lie and forge logs about what happened in Pandora, about how the heroic RDA people tried to negotiate from the goodness of their hearts and were all viciously slaughtered by the xenophobic natives, and no one would be there to disprove their claims. This would galvanize Earth's governments into avenging its people and sending out an even larger invasion force, only this time, It's Personal.
    • Stop being deliberately dense. He meant sympathetic humans, not Na'vi. As I said earlier, the IS Vs are NOT faster than light, it would be trivial to send communications ahead, even at light speed, particularly with the existence of the Na'vi sympathisers' movement on Earth, where is is OBVIOUS that the scientists would have had connections to even BEFORE leaving for Pandora.
    • Hell's Gate is equipped with a Subspace Ansible. Although the bitrate is about 3 per hour, it's gonna take almost six years for the defeated RDA cronies to return to Earth. An explanation can easily be crafted up and sent to the UN, resulting in the RDA's complete screw-over as the UN dismantles the company piece by piece.
      • That just puts Jake's, or the scientists' word against RDA's. If no one goes up with them to guard them during the trip (and see above for that scenario) then they could easily claim that the previous transmission was the work of a disgruntled worker trying to blackmail them.
      • Yet, it is still more logic and cheaper to just send an investigative commision into Pandora to check what really happened, interview the natives, see if there's evidence of battle (which there are) and so on than sending an invasion force which would be incredibly expensive and if you get there and find that Jake was right all along (whether by remains of the battle, natives' testimonies, etc) then you really have a problem, especially as the issue is already polemic and the Na'va have their defenders on Earth.
      • At this point, we're discussing Sequel Fodder. And we have no clue about what's brewing in James Cameron's head of his until 2014, so...there's no definitive answer for this.
  • As someone above said, there is a huge economic factor to all of this. Unobtanium is already worth loads of cash, but it obviously isn't worth THAT much (otherwise, the RDA wouldn't have skimped on military hardware). Once word reaches Earth that the natives of Pandora just massacred the RDA workers there, the price of Unobtanium will skyrocket due to its limited supply. Then, unless a cheap alternative is found (unlikely, as they wouldn't bother with Pandora if they could find one), it inevitably ends with someone (The RDA, a different corporation, or even a government sponsored expedition) coming over with serious firepower and butchering the Na'vi (be it with missiles launched from orbit that the planetary internet couldn't fight back against, or with more powerful weapons on the ground that can kill the creatures that the antiques couldn't) in grand fashion. Had the Na'vi used the chance of victory to negotiate extremely favourable terms (as the person above said, making unobtanium mining on Na'vi possible but heavily controlled), it could have gone over fine. As things are now, it is just a matter of time before the value of Unobtanium rises to the point where a giant space fleet can be paid for with the profits. Yes, as the story begins there is a pro-Na'vi movement on Earth, but that sentiment would fade significantly in the face of the massive gains from unobtanium, not to mention the fact that the Na'vi themselves come off as xenophobic barbarians who attack humans simply because they are foreign.
    • The biggest problem with that is logistics; considering that at most each ship can hold 200 people in cyrosleep and is lackingin the storage department, it would take a lot of resources to pull off such an invasion fleet at a time where resources aren't exactly in abundance. So just to get that serious firepower to Pandora to begin with would bankrupt whoever was bankrolling it, and as another troper explained bellow that would take decades to pay off. With six years just to get to Pandora, then many long years of warfare before mining can safe resume, then another six years to wait for the mining equipment (because keeping them in orbit around Pandora for years on end raises even more problems as that's going to consume fuel to keep the ships in orbit, whilst regular maintaince has to be performed on them meaning you need to keep crews fed with breathable air), then however long it takes to set up shop, then another six years before the first batch of unobtanium arrives on Earth. And that's not taking into account the problems with taking Pandora; Orbit-to-Surface weapons are instantly out because the amount of collatoral damage would hinder all future mining attempts; you can't mine something if it got blown to hell, or the landscape is so damaged your mining gear can't cope with the terrain, and forget about using a nuke unless you want to be sending back irradiated unobtanium for the next several thousand years. So that leaves a ground campaign which has it's own set of problems. You can't use tanks because of the amount of Forest around Hells Gate, traditional jets are too fast and will constantly be overshooting the Na'Vi fliers (in the same way that a current era jet would be worthless in air-to-air combats in World War I), bigger helicopters would help but would still get overwhelmed, and could not be shiped out in the numbers required to overcome the fact that every flying wildlife on the planet will be gunning for it, so really what else could you bring to the table that would actually be worth something? And that's not even considering the fact that how much of this hardware could anyone spare for Pandora? I doubt any military would be okay with someone sending off all of their toys to another solar system when they need them there and then.
  • And now to something completely different. How many humans actually left at the end of the movie and how many remained? The official pedia says each ship can carry only 200 people, since it doesn't have cryo pods for more. We have no clue how many soldiers there were in Hell's Gate how many of them survived. Also did all soldiers left or did some remain in order to protect the base from aggressive wildlife? What happens to the mining workers?
    • The defences are mostly automated. 200 people would be enough once all/most of the marines died (you can see two going into the shuttle), especially when you consider that all/most of the scientists and avatars stayed.
  • All the infrastructure is destroyed or in enemy hands. Meaning the have to start from scratch. But since their equipment including their military equipment is manufactured on Pandora, they are vulnerable after the landing until they build fortifications and heavy weapons. Because the Navi are air mobile, they can communicate information about the humans to all other Navi. Therefore all the Navi should know about the Humans and should know to attack as soon as possible, before they can entrench themselves. (This was not known to the Navi after the first landing) Therefore the second landing has to be as large as possible in order to survive. They need to collect all their spaceships. The ships in transit cant turn around. They have to go to Pandora collect fuel and return to earth. That takes maybe 16.4 years form the end of the movie (4.4 years to learn about the event and stop sending ships plus 2 times 6 years for the transit.). Transporting the new garrison takes 6 years. You would not want to take no mining equipment, because that means you have less military stuff. Therefore another 12 years before any miners show up on Pandora. And another 6 years to return the first ore to earth. That are 40.4 years from the end of the film to make any new profit simply due to travel time. And I did not calculate any delays in orbit. Add some point RDA is going to go bankrupt, there will be government hearings and protesting environmentalist delaying the whole thing further. At any point during all this some guy in a shed might develop an alternative to Unobtainium or the Navi might manage to overrun the garrison. This would mean I would lose my investment. Personally I rather Invest in superconductor research.
    • Also, each ISV has two shuttles and cargo capacity similar to maybe an An-225. That means that even if you somehow took fully assembled equipment from Earth, you'd have maybe 12-14 ampsuits OR 2 scorpions, with two shuttles to bring them down (and assemble them on the ground) - if they somehow safely land somewhere with no cover, no protection, no equipment. Going near Hell's Gate will get them blown out of the air even before the Na'vi could destroy the shuttle, and the scientists can starve the IS Vs of the fuel they need to return if they want.
  • This isn't a space western where people fly through space on a whim. The first real mission was ABSURDLY EXPENSIVE and only served to help establish the hardware to help craft get back and forth to Earth in the future (antimatter production, deuterium harvesting, etc). After that a lot of missions were needed to try to make things liveable and mineable. If Jake And Pals can control all of the infrastructure, Earth is pretty screwed on this one.

     What's going to happen wend the next ship full of humans shows up? 
  • Word of God says that there's like 6-12 ships going back and forth without any real communication between the two. So what's going to happen when next year's shipment and new men shows up? The Na'vi think they're an invasion force and kill them all? They seem pretty eager to kill people different form them without caring about their intentions.
    • Sequel fodder, obviously.
    • Mass distribution of The Pocket Andre Gide and The Pocket Frantz Fanon?
    • Now that Jake is the chieftain, I'd think the Na'vi will be more receptive to a diplomatic solution next time.
      • Which can make someone hope the soldiers in the sequel will be portraid more three dimensional and respecting.
    • Yeah, the end of the film was basically the Na'vi saying, "Look, don't fuck with us, alright?" A sort of wake-up call that they're not just stupid savages that you can bulldoze into submission, and if the mineral is really that important to humanity, well, now they've got someone on the Na'vi side that can smooth things out.
  • The scientists control the only safe place to land, which also happens to have a lot of anti-aircraft weaponry. Refuel and then please leave for Earth.
    • If they land to refuel it will be very hard to use anti-aircraft weaponry on them. If they land to refuel they can shoot the scientists in their faces. If they don't land to refuel the ships will crash and a bunch of angry marines will come out and start shooting scientists and Na'vi in the face.
      • What, all 20 marines with no equipment in a shuttle that is going to show up and be shot down as soon as it's in range? Anyway, IS Vs can't land. Fuel is brought up in a shuttle.
      • Actually, the ISVs just collect hydrogen while in orbit to refuel their matter/antimatter drives (hydrogen and anti-hydrogen). Any ISV attempting atmospheric re-entry would disintegrate and all passengers would be killed. And hypothetically, if a large squad of marines somehow make it onto Pandora's surface alive after a catastrophic incident involving the ISV, they would be in no condition to fight. They haven't eaten or drank in almost 6 years, their muscles would have mildly atrophied, and any guns available would have been destroyed in the crash. Not to mention the whole "Pandora's atmosphere contains lethal amounts of carbon dioxide" issue.
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     The humans' failure to learn from history. 
Continuing on one query raised above, it does seem odd that the humans are so nasty to the Na'vi, not because humans haven't done things like that to each other, but because they have. You'd kind of think that someone would think of the Trail of Tears, colonialism, etc. before acting like that. There's also the issue that since there are/have been civilizations on Earth with a technological level at about the same as the Na'vi, it seems fairly well stupid on the part of humans to think that the Na'vi weren't every bit as intelligent as humans (I do think that it was clever having the "Earth Goddess" and the bond to nature being scientifically quantifiable, and understandable why humans wouldn't expect that- but still, you'd think that someone besides Grace and the scientists would accept that kind of detail.
  • You're complaining that humans haven't learned from history, when we ourselves don't learn from it in real life? The RDA making the same mistakes humans have made since time immemorial is completely natural.
    • You have a point there- maybe a better way of phrasing my complaint is "if we (the audience) see all of these parallels to Native Americans, Vietnam, etc., how come most of the characters in the film are completely Genre Blind?"
  • This troper would just chalk it up to an in-universe case of What Measure Is a Non-Human? on the human soldiers' part. They probably didn't think of these parallels because the Na'vi were clearly non-human and therefore did not deserve to be treated as people. After all, the white plantatation owners likely believed that the enslavement of the Jews as protrayed in the Bible was wrong, but saw nothing wrong with claiming black people as their property.
  • Read my rant under "Human Actions Bug Me". We clearly haven't learn anything since we're still doing that kind of things
  • Seemed to me like they did learn from history. At some point someone probably sat down and talked things out:
"Okay, guys, let's get this 'exploiting the natives' thing right this time, okay? That means no slipping anyone smallpox-infested blankets, no committing genocide, and absolutely no nuking anything from orbit."
  • The humans should have tried turning this around before they even started mining; give the Na'vi a human history book, tell them a few bedtime stories about the Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and Western Imperialism in general, and let them know how tenacious humans can be when they NEED (or even simply WANT) something. Consider two pearls of historic wisdom that would make the Na'vi think twice before saying no:
    Sam Houston: (speaking shortly before the US Civil War) Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming....Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet....You may after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence...but I doubt it. I tell you that...the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction...they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.
    Mark Twain: History teaches us that whenever a weak and ignorant people possess a thing which a strong and enlightened people want, it must be yielded up peaceably.
    • Good luck teaching the Na'vi how to read English when they don't have a written language of their own.
      • Telling them orally could be effective enough...or even showing a few good movies on such subjects (dubbed in Na'vi of course). If humans follow historical precedent (provided by the Boxer Rebellion and the Zulu Wars), they WILL be back, they WILL come in force, and they WON'T ask nicely this time. This is a James Cameron film we're talking about, after all, so that could be exactly what he has in mind (Illustrated rather humorously here). How else could they top the first one?
      • I have faith in Cameron that he'll deliver a good movie without stretching the "They're back, but BETTER!" theme too far. He did mention something about undersea exploration anyways.
      • I doubt the Na'vi would even listen to the humans since the conflict is already going. And besides that, they always have Gaia's Vengeance on their side, so the Na'vi will win in almost all situations. I don't think the ISV has enough cargo/passenger space to hold enough people and equipment for a proper strike force that would overcome the superfauna bum-rush.
      • Ultimately, human endeavor on Pandora, aggressive or not, is limited by the room allowed on an ISV or Valkyrie shuttle. You can't bring in a whole division of marines, simply because the ISV doesn't fit that many people. Each Valkyrie only holds 60 passengers max, and there are only two per ISV. And building a new ISV to accomidate more travellers would be obscenely expensive (an off-shoot comment in the Avatar game mentions each Avatar is about 5 billion dollars, so god knows how much those IS Vs cost). And if the humans some how do bring in an army (while spending an assload of money), they'll also bring tons of equipment (tanks, artillery, guns/ammo, etc.), which will result in no mining equipment being brought over either. So really, a military offensive can't be done at the same time as a mining operation, which results in the RDA bleeding trillions (or dare I say, quadrillions) of dollars with no profit in sight for years or decades. And no company would ever do that.
      • Er, I would think that it is possible to set up factories on Pandora, and churn out the war equipment on-planet, instead of transporting the finished products to Pandora. And the war can be short and very brutal. Seriously, if you want the planet so badly, it is prudent for you to use overwhelming force the first time round and be done with it.
      • So instead of bringing military equipment to Pandora, they should bring materials to build factories that churn out said military equipment...yeah, that's pretty much the same thing: takes up space on the shuttle, resulting in no progress on mining unobtanium due to a lack of mining equipment, and thus no profit. And even then, you have to bring different mining equipment to gather raw materials you need to make tanks/artillery/whatever on-site, which isn't being used to mine unobtanium. Still not very viable economically. The point is that the RDA can't commit to a military operation and a mining project at the same time.
      • Point taken, but still, it looks better than what actually happened in the movie. In any case, how much mining was RDA actually doing before the attack? Didn't see that many miners around.
      • There's that one brief shot during the Valkyrie's descent to Hell's Gate where you see a massive strip mine, complete with monstrous loaders and the biggest Bucket Wheel Excavator I've seen. So there's obviously been some progress over the years.

     How is preemptively destroying a core religious site a good idea? 
Quaritch's plan, was it in any way a good idea? What made Quaritch think preemptively destroying 'the tree of souls' would kill the Na'vi's will to fight? Wouldn't a planet-wide eternal jihad of Na'vi against humanity be an equally probable outcome?
  • Na'vi can't be bribed or hired and don't yield to intimidation. Bombing their most sacred place is a way to say "Brace yourself, we can deal pain. Surrender!". Sure, it could backfire, but then, what was the option? Trying to bribe them harder?
  • This bugged me a little too, but for different reasons. After the RDA destroys the Omaticaya Hometree, they've won. Now they can pop in and mine all of the unobtanium they want from the ruins of Hometree. Going after the Tree of Souls was completely unneccessary. Of course, the storytelling reason is to show Quaritch's descent into madness, but I'd like to believe a competent commander wouldn't endanger nigh irreplaceable personnel and materiel (including one of their shuttles) for what seems to be a revenge attack.
    • "Revenge attack"? The Na'vi were mounting for a massive assault on the humans. Like Quaritch said, their only security lay in pre-emptive strike. It's much easier to attack the Tree of Souls than the Na'vi forces, because...it's a tree. It's not going anywhere. In the end, attacking the Tree of Souls was the quickest and most effective course of actions for the humans to end the Na'vi resistance.
    • First of all, the generals didn't believe the tree was a communication with the afterlife, but just served as a druglike feeling. This was pretty much the central drugnode to them. Second, they were still not trying to kill all the natives, but force them into coercion.
      • The dialoged indicates that they thought of the tree as a religious sight; they just decided to bomb it anyway because of the massing army
      • Q seemed to assume that the attack on Hometree would end hostilities (in so far as they'd loose the will to fight and go somewhere else). This didn't happen and he's now instigated a war (Jake starts uniting tribes). Q needs to stop this before it becomes an army he can't handle so he attacks the only other target of opportunity he knows about that would possibly cause demoralization (Tree of Souls). He can't attack the army because while he knows where they are, they can move faster than his forces can with less limitation (gas for starters, and magic mountains). To be fair, attacking a core religious site is still a silly idea since it's as likely to increase hostilities as it is to defuse them.

     Why are there no representatives from other countries aboard this mission? 
Everybody's American in some way. By 2154, shouldn't the world be slightly more internationalised?
  • I supposed the RDA was an American company and felt more comfortable working with Americans. Foreign employees are not as reliable as volunteers from the home turf.
  • Or American cultural dominance succeded beyond anyone's wildest fears/expectations/hopes.
  • All this can be inferred from the few people with actual speaking parts?
    • Its not just that there are no asian appearing people nor anyone who is clearly of any ethnicity other than a few tokens.
      • Based on the few non-main characters that actually DO appear? Not to mention that they are the ones employed by an AMERICAN company.
    • We don't know that for sure. However, seeing as how in the Avatar-verse most of Earth's nations are bankrupt and run by mega-corporations like the RDA, and that the US historically has been a leader in commerce and space exploration, it's likely that most of the humans on Pandora could have been American.

     Quaritch's unchecked power 
Why would any corporation entrust a multi-trillion dollar investment to one man, who is obviously insane, with no council or bureaucracy to prevent stupid decisions? Enron wouldn't have done something that stupid.
  • Without getting too political, America has spent millions (possibly billions) hiring and training the Blackwater mercenaries to fight in Iraq. Their leader is a man who was allegedly convinced that the war was strictly religious, and a continuation of 10th century "Crusades." He has since been accused of many, many intentional civilian deaths in Iraq, plus the murder of several Blackwater employees, likely over financial concerns, and their methods went unchecked for quite some time. I'm not sure if James Cameron had Blackwater in mind when creating a vision of an evil mercenary squad, but there are many similarities.
    • I'm not trying to justify Blackwater's alleged crimes, but their decisions saved money. These guys are just evil for the sake of being evil. Furthermore, whenever mercenaries or American troops are accused of wrongdoing, there are hearings and investigations. In the army, you have to ignore illegal orders.
    • Hearings and investigations? They're six years' travel from Earth, and there's no indication that Quaritch intends to return to Earth any time soon. Obsessed as he was, he probably figured he could complete his operations against the Na'Vi, then dress up his assaults as "resisting native terrorism", secure in the knowledge that any hypothetical war crimes tribunal would only hear what he sees fit to tell them over the Subspace Ansible.
  • Please remember that Quaritch asks Selfridge's permission to launch the attack on Hometree, and Selfridge authorizes that attack. And preemptive strike on Eywa tree also had Selfridge's (admittedly reluctant) approval. Yes, Quaritch was off his rocker, but what would you expect from A Father to His Men who's men are getting killed in "patrol accidents" and who isn't allowed to strike back?
    • Uh, not totally true. Quaritch seizes total control of Hell's Gate after he finds out Jake is amassing forces for an attack on the humans. Selfridge gets detained when he gets pissed about losing his seat of power, in one of the deleted scenes.
      • That' how it was? That explains why Selfridge got to be deported from Pandora instead of... something more radical. Waiting for director's cut to see that.

     Why didn't the mercs Macross Missile Massacre attack the Tree of Souls with loads and loads of dumb rockets? 
Just gather a bunch of gunships right outside the rockets' maximum distance, fire away and watch as those little yellow dots fall on the valley. Even if they couldn't score a direct hit, the canyon would collapse on the tree. It worked on the Hometree, which is the size of a skyscraper, so there's no reason it wouldn't work on the Tree of Souls.
  • Rockets cost money. Mining explosives also cost money, but obviously a lot less than a Macross Missile Massacre. Also, it's likely they didn't have enough missiles to do something like that. It's highly likely the Colonel had an ammo budget and would likely blow the roof off of that if he had another missile overkill attack.
  • Don't forget about all the pesky floating islands getting in the way of your rockets. By the time you get close enough to get a clear shot, you're probably close enough to bomb it anyway.
  • Plus, using the shuttle as a bomber allows more gunships to be used for air defense. Quatrich was capitalizing on his resources.
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     RDA in general. Warning: This is a big one. 
The films evil capitalist villains, the RDA, have proven themselves to be unbelievably incompetent. There are so many things wrong with them, I decided to start from the ground up and create a list of solutions.

  • 1: Privately run corporations are usually very effecient.
    • Despite this, the RDA acts more illogically than congress. The avatar project was a terrible idea from the start because the participants will inevitably go native. By the year 2154, there will be so many movies, books and TV shows about this sort of thing that the RDA should be savvy to it. But they follow every cliche in the book. This is why Genre Blindness is becoming a discredited trope.

  • 3: Why do they need the Na'vi alive?
    • The RDA doesn't want to kill the Na'vi, but they have no use for them if they're alive. Sure, they could enslave them, but if a single Na'vi escaped, it would link up to the internet tree and tell any other races on the planet to come to their aid. It's madness. They would be better off with them dead.

  • 3: Why bother with giant smurfs when there are so many other options?
    • The supplementary material states that there are giant amniotic tanks that grow whales, akin to the ones that the Avatars are grown in. But since the Avatar project was destined to be a total failure, here is what they should have done:

    • 3A: Build a big, nasty, monster.
      • Pandora has plenty of scary beasties. And if RDA is so enamored with biotechnology, they could have mixed together all the DNA from the giant dragons and hammerhead hippos into a big, horrible Godzilla-type monster. Best of all, if they keep the USB port thingies, it can use it to transmit nasty diseases to the fauna of Pandora.

    • 3B: Augment the monster with cybernetic implants.
      • There are all sorts of advantages to this. By ripping out part of it's brain and replacing it with machinery, they could maintain complete control over it. And they could give it built-in weaponry. Railguns, nukes, giant chainsaws, you name it, they can put it on him. Best of all, if it has a small nuclear reactor to power all these components, it would have a horrific self-destruct sequence that would be great for suicide missions.

    • 3C: Build at least three of these.
      • Self-explanatory. With at least three of these you'll be unstoppable. They also have an advantage over Avatars; since they register with the god-planet as a Pandoran life-form, and at the same time have all these deliciously evil weapons and stuff, it would scare the crap out of the Na'vi to the point that they might think it was a demon or something.

    • 3D: If that fails...
      • Start terraforming the atmosphere. It will be both suitable for humans toxic to Na'vi. They suffocate, and you can take in all that nice, clean air. Not to mention if Pandora is terraformed, it can be tunred into a giant national park of sorts. Earth's wildlife can be restored and roam free without having to worry about big blue smurfs.

  • 4: Mine the barren moons nearby.
    • Someone else brought this up. Apparently, Pandora's solar system is rich with unobtainium, so you don't have to go through all the trouble of having to wipe out a race of mary-sues.

  • 5: Any questions?

  • No, only comments.
    • 1 and 2 - The Avatar project was conceived out of PR, and started as a mission to create mining supervisors for the Na'vi in which the RDA assumed the Na'vi would give in and mine the unobtanium for them. Having a human supervising instead of an avatar wouldn't be as effective since that human doesn't look anything like a Na'vi, and the miners would more likely trust someone who looked like them. Problem is that the Na'vi didn't want to mine and Avatars cost billions of dollars (probably trillions if inflation was adjusted to 2154). The RDA aren't complete idiots: they were certain that the program would be a success (at the very least, it'd be good PR)
    • 3 - There has only been twenty Avatars created, and each Avatar costs a ton. The Avatar program was never destined to be a failure; the RDA thought the Na'vi would be compliant. And this pretty much nulls 3A to 3D.
    • 4 - Never mentioned that other planets have unobtanium, both in the film and the book tie-ins. Unless you can prove otherwise, there isn't any unobtainium in the other planets.
      • Or they're too far away to make mining viable.

      • The RDA didn't "need" the Na'vi alive. The reason they didn't want to kill them?

        Because they weren't immoral bastards, and didn't want to wipe out an entirely innocent species just for profit. They say this repeatedly in the film, and there's that big note at the top of this very page. Sweet merciful Zeus, why the hell is it so godsdamn hard to understand that an antagonist in a film might not be wholly and unapologetically evil?
  • There's also the fact that wiping out the Na'vi is ...um...what's that important word that generates a huge social taboo among humans? I think it's "genocide"? You know, a war crime? Except the RDA isn't a state or a military, it's a private corporation. Wiping out the Na'vi would be the quickest way to bring down the governments of the world on their heads, destroy the company, and probably get hundreds of people arrested and imprisoned. Regardless of whether the genocide is of humans or aliens, it is a bad idea.
    • I think the whole problem alot of people have with this movie is that they(and I) think that killing sapient extraterrestrials(or them killing us) is not bad. If it was not for the anthropomorphism forced on the fictional navi they would have been starfish aliens. Aliens and humans are probably so different that cooperation is impossilbe. Not only may extraterrestrials be smarter or dumber, weaker or stronger, and gentler or more vicious by nature, but because thier brains are acctually different in structure from ours they may not be able to have human-like thoughts. So there should be no taboo about killing aliens. And given humanity's imperialistic nature, it seems naive to say that we would be nice to them when we've never been nor will probably ever been nice to ourselves.
      • See, it doesn't matter what you think should or should not happen between aliens. What matters is that the movie clearly shows that cooperation is not impossible between us. It clearly shows that the Na'vi are as capable of moral agency as humans and have human-like thoughts. In short, your argument is based on things that are not part of the movie. You may not find the world that Avatar presents you with as believable, but reading in your own opinions of how it should be and characterizing the actions of the people involved based on those opinions is simply unfair.
      • Of course, this brings up a huge philosophical discussion about what is morality and what makes a 'person'. One that's been going for decades already, in fact.
      • In the real world, attempting to deliberately exterminate an entire species because they inconvenience your mining operation is a) illegal, and b) really, really bad PR. The fact that they are sapient with human-level intelligence just makes it worse.
      • Note that equating human-like with sentient and sapient is a fallacy. You can be sentient and sapient without being human. The actual question would be the non-human question not a question of intelligence. And it can be debated on the humans are douches to each other (obviously, that's not the case all the time and it's actually evolutionarily advantageous to be nice to people on occasion). It can also be debated that the only reason we're as douche-y as we are is because we lack perspective - yes, cultures can be imperialistic, but culture have also evolved to be more altruistic.
  • Gonna bring up the fact that's getting ignored by the comments here. The RDA are friggin' moustache twirler villains. They are utterly immoral bastards. And besides, who's going to cause the bad PR? You develop your monsters in a secret lab. Then you drop them and use it to wipe the locals out. Then you use those implants to shut down it's brain. After that you just drop the whole thing in a vat of hydrofluoric acid. No evidence left behind. You simply deny any knowledge of what wiped them out. Problem solved. There are no reportsers on Pandora (what news corporation is going to spend all that money for a story they won't get for at least 12 years and that will be six years out of date when they get it?) so that's one security risk dealt with. You just load your monsters onto crates with a life support system for the trip over and drop them off on the opposite side of the planet. Nobody outside your little project even knows they exist. Innocent until proven guilty. No evidence means no problem.
    • No, you're the one ignoring facts. To start, the RDA are not "friggin' moustache twirler villains". Did you not notice that Selfridge didn't want to just wipe them out? And that he showed regret and when told that there were families and children at Hometree, he let Jake go back in and try and get them to move? Yeah, they're all clearly Card Carrying Villains

      As for the "no reporters" thing, they've apparently got FTL communications between Earth and Pandora, so no, it wouldn't be them waiting 12 years for a story, they'd have it as soon as it happened.

      And there's always evidence, no matter how "secret" a project is or how "secure" the company is.
  • Dude... Did you really just suggest genocide agains't the Na'vi? First of all, even if an alien is completely different, they are still sapient and don't deserve to die for no reason. Second, the Na'vi in this movie could communicate with humans and thought and spoke the exact same way. As for making Godzilla, that's a really stupid idea. Why not just make a tank? It isn't any less durable and is much less expensive. I agree with you on your first point though, the Avatar project does seem like a pretty bad idea.
    • It happens here a lot. People who can't bear to be seen as even indifferent to something via It's Popular, Now It Sucks! or they'd lose their hipster cred forever, so jump in with such things.

     Why not strip mine one of the planets or moons closer to the star? 
Okay, assuming unobtainium was made from one specific supernova that only bathed this particular star system with unobtainium, and no more supernovas have ever made that element, why is it only Pandora has it? Heavy metals settle closer to the star itself in developing star systems. Wouldn't it have made more sense to find a closer planet and strip mine the hell out of it? I mean, there'd be more unobtainium in the same amount of area, and no one would live there.http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Unobtanium "Researchers theorize that billions of years ago, when the planets and satellites of the Alpha Centauri System were condensing from the primordial stellar nebula, a Mars-sized stellar body may have crashed into the still molten Pandora. " It was made from a planet crashing into Pandora.

  • Assuming there are any other bodies in the system containing unobtainium... that's a big assumption. If it was from an impact, then that would preclude finding it on every rock in the system. Even if for some reason there was some on many planets/moons/asteroids, then it may not be in useful amounts. Anyway, many planets, moons and asteroids are airless, radiation-blasted rocks with little to no natural resources, which are a LOT harder to survive on in the short or long term.

     Combat? 
I read through this page but it longer than I would have guessed so sorry if I missed anything.

Why did the colonel grab the idiot ball in the final attack? I can understand going through the floating mountains if they surround the tree of souls but why did he go under the mountains instead of over them? He left himself completely open to an ambush. Why did he feel the need to use huge ass "daisy cutters" when a single salvo of gunfire, missiles or rockets could blow up the tree of souls?

  • There actually used to be an entry like this, and it spanned about 25 lines and over 1500 words. It was deleted because the page reached its maximum length and some extensively long/duplicate entries had to be pruned. Primary point is that you'd still have to be pretty close for a missile salvo (no missile tracking, obstacles in missile flight path, Na'vi would attack anyways and you might hit a passing banshee instead). Also, Quaritch would have to be dealing with a munitions budget; mining explosives are cheaper than missiles. His "daisy cutter" plan was actually working pretty well: The Dragon gunship and the Valkryie was impervious to banshees, and Scorpions (despite some losses) would render Jake incapable of attacking the Valkyrie or Dragon until the bombing run was completed. It wasn't until Eywa intervened and wiped out all the escorts that Jake was able to do his grenade run.
  • Close, aye but you would have slightly more range. Plus you could do a high speed attack run instead of escorting a bomber that has to fly slow to bomb. Plus I think Quarich can spare some missiles for an all or nothing attack. That also doesn't explain why they don't fly over the mountains, as while they did fight off the navi they took significant casualties. Had they gone over the mountains the navi couldn't have gotten the drop on them and they would have the advantage of height.
  • The entire escort was flying by VFR (visual flight rules) because all their navigation equipment was screwy due to the flux vortex. Which means they had to use their eyes to navigate and to keep their craft stable. It's not the best idea to go really high up when you're using VFR, because the only scenery you can use to gauge your craft's position/angle all the way up there are clouds. Anyone who has experience with helicopters will tell you that. A high-speed attack run wouldn't make much of a difference since all the Scorpions would have to slow down to fire, and would be sitting ducks to the attacking banshees. Hell, the Valkryie bombing run was a better idea simply because it's impervious to banshees (save them getting sucked into the Valkryie's engine intakes or Jake tossing a few grenades). And not sure where you got 'significant casualties', since there were at least half of the original number of Scorpions left and the entire Na'vi airforce was retreating. The primary point is that The Valkyrie bombing run was working until Eywa intervened (something either faction couldn't have anticipated).
  • ... How is flying higher more difficult VFR than navigating a mess of floating rocks and flora? I'm not saying they would fly THAT high (i.e. above the clouds), just about as high (or perhaps a bit higher) as the relocated AVATAR program base. High enough to avoid passing under higher rocks low enough to use the landscape as a navigational aid. Plus I'm not suggesting that the scorpions would do the attack run (why would they need to slow down anyway?), I would leave that to the dragon gunship which proved equally impervious. The Valkyrie bombing run was indeed working but it could have been done in a fashion that left them with more men afterworld and a possibility to, even if temporarily, fight off Eywa's forces. There was much room for improvement.
    • So now you're suggesting an Dragon + Scorpion attack run is better than a Valkyrie + Dragon + Scorpion attack run. I don't see your logic there, considering the Dragon would have to be ostensibly close for the missiles to hit (even closer than the Valkyrie was in terms of altitude. That thing was pretty up there). The Valkyrie and Dragon were equally impervious and could only be brought down by the efforts of Jake, so why only bring one of the two? And VFR at high altitudes is difficult because in the situation presented to the Scorpion pilots, their only point of reference for level flight was the ground. The farther away you are from the ground, the harder it gets.
  • To sum up. Attack force approaches tree of souls from high altitude. Navi can't drop down from them above rocks, if they approach from rocks below RDA has height advantage and the Navi's attack carries less speed, which reduces the chance the can "grab" the aircraft or shoot arrows trough windshields. Even if they approach from above, they will be detected before they engage and can be eliminated with minimal casualties. When the task force reaches the airspace above the tree of souls, the dragon peels off and dives. This is presumably were Eywa freaks out and sends backup. The banshees and toruk and such would probably inflict many casualties but the dragon is impervious to them, and going too fast for jake and co to board it the dragon makes it into the range where they can hit the tree unguided and hits it with an incendiary. The taskforce then tries to get back to base. Even if eywa's forces/jake manage to destroy the rest of the air force after this, the undeployed ground forces and AMP suits can easily defend hell's gate (There is presumably no-man's land around it and the fluff states there are AA defences for hostile flying fauna.
    • The Dragon is a VTOL. VTOLs don't just dive like that. They have to lower altitude at a controlled rate or they face the risk of screwing themselves over. And Eywa intervened due to Na'vi casualties, not so much the proximity of the Valkyrie to the Tree of Souls; it's not like she herself was in any danger - the Tree of Souls was a (very direct) terminal, not a server. The Omaticaya + other Na'vi clans may lose, but this was an unwinnable fight for the RDA.
    • Plus the forest goes right up to the edge, and the Na'vi are far, far better than any human. The marines wouldn't know what had happened until they were dying, if the Na'vi needed to attack Hell's Gate - the first thing they'd know is when arrows fired from diving ikran go straight through them, followed by hundreds of Na'vi appearing from the forest. Anyway, there isn't any space for the marines and AM Psuits to do much outside Hell's Gate, with only a couple of exceptions on main access routes.
    • Also, navigating purely on VFR is a pain in the ass. Look up how often B-17 missions in World War II were lucky to find the right city to bomb. Remember, once they enter the distortion zone, the GPS stops working too. So they have to stay low enough to see ground landmarks at all times... which means low enough to be reachable by the Na'vi, as the Na'vi's only altitude limit is 'is there still enough air to breathe'.
    • Many of you seem to be discounting one (or perhaps several) very important facts. The Valkyrie Shuttle is a space capable aircraft, ludicrously fast atmospheric flyer, and a stable VTOL with nigh infinite fuel. There is no reason why it couldn't have flown over the banshee's fight ceiling, used hardened GPS systems to fly directly over the tree, came to a hover, descended vertically, and then had the munitions tossed out of the back. If that failed, the scorpions could certainly launch a dumb-fire missile attack, and without a massive shuttle to wait for, they would be free to fly at top speed towards to objective and evade the banshees, which are shown to fly either as fast, or slightly slower than, the aircraft during the final battle. Ammo costs are irrelevant, as the RDA clearly has enough funding to procure a private army, massive mining equipment, AVATA Rs, space craft, and destroy Home Tree with a hilariously excessive amount of HE/incendiary Missiles.
  • Another thing that confuses me, why is Quarich so concerned the navi will overrun Hell's gate? Granted, they will face more forces than they did at the tree of souls but they have automatic weapons and the navi will have to face them on the human's terms. They can't close distance easily thanks to the jungle since they will have to charge through huge swaths of no-mans lands with overlapping fields of fire. The banshee riders will have to contend with both the air defense system of the base, and aircraft with fully operational instruments and weapons. Not to mention that eywa was only spurred into action due to the attack on the tree of souls, had the navi attacked hells gate, she likely wouldn't have helped. Judging by the charge at tree of souls the navi will retreat well before all 20k of them are dead.
    • Technically, the Na'vi have "home field advantage" on the whole planet, so the RDA are always fighting on Na'vi terms. The flux vortex surrounding the Tree of Souls was just the kicker. Hell's Gate has 5 primary turret systems on each corner of its pentagonal perimeter (designed for defense against attacks from major predators) and 4 secondary turrets (for more minor threats) on each side. All turrets are designed to be both anti-air and ground defense. If you factor in about 10,000 mountain banshees, another 10,000 direhorses, and hundreds of Hammerhead Titanotheres, Sturmbeest, and Thanators (courtesy of Eywa; numbers may vary), it's pretty much guaranteed that the defenses are going to be overwhelmed. Once the 5 main turrets are destroyed, the superfauna Zerg Rush turns into an absolute curbstomp since there's nothing else on the base that can penetrate titanothere armor. Hell's Gate is a relatively small base (9 square km), so there wouldn't be as much munitions or men as you think there would be.
      • Not to mention how it actually fell, to Max ripping the control room open with mining equipment and the avatars running in and securing it - all in all, a real Moment of Awesome that should have been included in the full theatrical cut.
    • One of the serious issues that the RDA has to deal with is not only simply defending their perimeter, but the fact that they're out there for a reason: to mine the unobtanium. If they pull everyone back, circle the wagons, and go into full-on siege mode, they're going to be faced with the fact that they're not bringing in any more ore, which means dramatically reduced profit margins and increased costs. They won't be able to make a profit and the entire mining operation falls apart once the investors realize they can't secure their mining convoys. If the Na'vi place Hell's Gate under siege, then it's game over, even if they don't set a single step within the firing range of the RDA's guns.
    • In addition to all of the above, Quaritch is thinking about his logistics. Remember, he's stuck on an alien planet and they have to send him everything by supply ship, which only arrives once every year at best. So Quaritch cannot replace any lost men. He can't replace any lost equipment. He can't even replace any used ammunition. All of the troops, weapons, vehicles, and bullets he has stockpiled right now are the only ones he will ever see for the next few years. The one thing he absolutely cannot afford to do is get caught in a prolonged siege situation; as soon as things turn into attrition warfare, he's doomed. Even if he's entirely willing to forgo the continued mining income in the name of sheer survival. Even if he manages to kill 100 Na'vi for every trooper he loses. Even with the static defenses available at the base. (After all, the ammo supply for those guns is a finite # too.) It all comes down to that the Na'vi can replace their casualties and replenish their stocks and Quaritch can't. Provided that they're determined enough to keep coming in the face of the first few waves being slaughtered (and the Na'vi blatantly being Proud Warrior Race Guys, Quaritch has every reason to assume they will), they literally can beat him to death with rocks and sticks. Quaritch's only hope of winning this war is if the Na'vi lose heart and stop fighting, and that's why he bets all his marbles on a massive psychological warfare attack on their most sacred site — to try and break their national will. Didn't work, of course, but its not like the man was overburdened with options at that point.

    Ground forces 
What was the purpose of the ground forces of troopers and AMP suits in the final battle? They didn't seem to be any assist to their air forces above and the Na'vi on the ground didn't post any threat to the air forces anyway.
  • Every Na'vi fighting on the ground is a Na'vi not riding a banshee to try and attack the Dragon. Since Quaritch has more ground troops than he has flyers to carry them all at once, he's busy using his surplus ground troops to present a second threat so the enemy splits his own forces into two groups to meet both threats, instead of being free to concentrate all their force against the one group of his that's actually essential to his plan. Or in short, Quaritch is making a diversionary attack on the ground to help the air mission's odds. Also, the Na'vi being a tribal warrior society its reasonable to assume that that the chiefs will lead their men from the front, and so a ground battle of Na'vi vs. modern weapons might give him a chance to kill as many Na'vi tribal leaders as will charge at his guns, which if he pulls it off will improve the odds of his 'Break the Na'vi's will to resist' strategy that's his fundamental reason for bombing Hometree in the first place. Its not exactly Sun Tzu but neither is it the Idiot Ball; his ground tactics are actually serving his overall strategy to at least some degree instead of being wasted effort.
    • Makes sense from Quaritch's standpoint, then, but what about the Na'vi's? Presumably they've gotten alerted about the ground attack by Dr. Patel, since he told them about the air attack. But if Patel overheard about the ground attack, why wouldn't he also inform the natives that the ground RDA forces are just a diversion and just to have every warrior up in the air?
      • A lot of the ground troops were Horse Clan, who couldn't have been up in the air even if they wanted to. And the reason it's a diversion and works as such is because it is threatening—unchecked and left to roam, those ground troops could do damage themselves.
      • Also, the entire point is to take advantage of the Navi's Proud Warrior Race Guy tendencies — given any not-blatantly-obviously-a-deathtrap chance to attack the enemy the Na'vi are going to take it, whether it ultimately serves a larger strategy or not. One of the best things you can do as a general is take advantage of any consistent habits your enemy is known to have, and Quaritch was doing exactly that.
    • In short Quaritch intended the ground force to be both a diversion and a backup plan: If the Na'vi send a force to repel the ground assault, it's less Na'vi against the RDA airforce. If the Na'vi concentrate on the air assault, the ground forces can still do damage to the Tree of Souls, which means the Na'vi have no choice but to split their force to repel the assault entirely, which is a sound strategy.

     Invisible Bad Press 
  • So, the stated reason by Selfridge about the RDA's 'gentle' treatment of the Na'Vi are due to not wanting to have bad PR. However, never in the film do we see a reporter embedded on Pandora, and the humans don't have the technology to broadcast from Pandora to Earth. With everyone who works there being under the employment of the RDA, which could be quickly silenced by signed NDA agreements. The RDA controlling the information flow to and from Earth via ships that take five years. It's nonsensical, as no one from Earth can find out what you're doing unless you decide to tell them. Why worry about press at all, unless Selfridge is imagining that there are press there?
    • Just because we don't see any reporters at Hell's Gate, doesn't mean they aren't there. And even if there aren't any reporters at Hell's Gate, all it takes is one slip up or one person's guilty conscience to tell people back on Earth about any atrocities they committed. It may take a while, but the truth will inevitably come out and the people back on Earth will be pissed when they learn about it.
    • An NDA in which the signatory agrees not to disclose illegal activities (murder and genocide being the most applicable here) is not legally enforceable, and abiding to such terms would constitute obstruction of justice.

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