Courage: Jake from Avatar

Jake Sully from Avatar is not always heroic, but he is always courageous. He chooses to move to Pandora, to take his brother’s place in a program he knows very little about. He travels light years away for a change, something to get him out of the grief of losing the use of his legs, and the grief of losing his brother. He adapts quickly to the avatar body, and he’s barely on the planet before he’s on a mission into the jungle, where he’s then separated from EVERYTHING he knows and is forced to live on his training. Part of his drive is to prove he can. The scene where he’s first in his avatar body, where he can run and feel free again, is my favorite in the whole movie. This drive carries over to his determination to learn how to ride that horse-like creature, and then the Banshee.

What makes him courageous is his choices. He chooses to learn more about the Na’vi, though he doesn’t speak their language or know anything about the planet. That he chooses to share this information with the headcase mercenary is a problem, but one motivated by the desire for the surgery to give him back the use of his legs. When he realizes the extent of his mistake, he takes every chance to make it right, starting with telling the truth to the Na’vi , which isn’t received well. (Who can blame them?) Then he risks his life to stop the mercenaries from getting what they want. Despite the rejection of the Na’vi, he does everything in his power, including leaping onto the back of the Taruk, the biggest, baddest Banshee, because he knows he has to have some power behind him when he unites the tribes against the humans.

Sometimes his courage makes him think before he acts, so he follows his heart. Sometimes it gets him in trouble, but in the end, it leads him to do the right thing.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leslie Garcia
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 05:56:33

    An interesting look at courage. I’m not nearly analytic enough when I watch movies, so seeing heroes like Jake from another perspective is good food for thought.



    • mjfredrick
      Mar 24, 2011 @ 17:24:34

      When Natalie and I were coming up with heroes, I looked at my DVD shelf and kinda had to force the analytical to come. It was hard (except for Raylan. I can analyze him all week long!)


  2. Emmanuelle
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:39:51

    The scene where he uses his avatar body for the first time is one of my favorite scenes too, though for different reasons. I love how almost boyish he appears and I fall easily for a strong man with a boyish charm !! I never thaught much about Jake’s courage though but I can definitely see your point. I love his faith and his very masuline posture. He’s in charge and he’s not afraid to take the commend if he thinks it’s worth it. Most of all I’m impressed by how easily he let himself fall in love. I didn’t feel too much of a struggle in him and it was refreshing. Gosh I really loved this movie, you made me want to watch it again !!


    • mjfredrick
      Mar 24, 2011 @ 17:23:39

      Yes! I love how giddy he gets!

      I guess, since I’m such a chicken (I live less than 10 minutes away from where I grew up), I can’t imagine people taking chances like that, no matter how bad life sucks.


  3. Norah Wilson
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 12:29:02

    Mmmm, Jake…. Yes, he made lots of mistakes and did everything wrong, but he made up for it in the end. This is one of my favorite plot devices, to see the protagonist screw it all up, then fix it with a herculean effort. 🙂 I truly loved the spectacle of Avatar and enjoyed Jake’s character arc. I have to confess to a little squirminess about the movie as a whole (the white messiah thing), but it doesn’t detract from my admiration for Jake.


    • mjfredrick
      Mar 24, 2011 @ 17:22:30

      See, I didn’t think of the white messiah thing. Interesting. In Hot Shot, I wanted my hero to screw up, bad, but was told, no, not heroic. Yet I LOVE books and movies that show the hero screwing up!


  4. Natalie J. Damschroder
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 19:19:01

    I love that what motivated Jake to find that courage was love. A lot of the heroes we’ve talked about aren’t necessarily heroic in the romantic sense, but Jake became worthy for her, and would never have had the perspective on the Na’vi that he grew to have without loving her.


  5. Jen B.
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 21:12:59

    I thought the movie was a little weak but the Jake character was very good. I wish more time had been spent on character development. In the end I think Jake was a true hero.


  6. Natalie
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 21:13:54

    I thought the plot was pretty standard and predictable, but that everything else was well done.


  7. Jessica Meade
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 02:05:25

    Jake is one of my favorite protagonists from the last couple of years because of the very thing you’re talking about here. 🙂


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