Geometeer: "Perhaps the most wonderful thing in Avatar is that the hero when human has a hand-rolled wheelchair -- two-century-old tech at the story's date, in a tech-worshipping culture! -- just to have him seem more sad and pitiful."
The movie explained this with the reverence to how cheap the government was when it came to veterans' benefits. (Xrandadu Hutman, response to post, “What the news big can learn from ‘Avatar,’” Salon, 4 Jan. 2010)
It did that. But it also worked to set him up as sad and pitiful -- to the rest of the "core." The point is also made, in the way the other (let's call them) marines reacted to his disability, that they're now much more paid grunts (the fallen) than they are military men: military men may have teased him, but would have more readily appreciated his I-can-do-what-you-can-do attitude. That the colonel looks past this, baiting him with new legs but focussing entirely on his mental-makeup, makes him a bit apart from the rest of the rangy crew. That is, the colonel is never in the end the military man who went corporate soft, but an old-style patriarch -- the devil? -- whose formidableness can't match that of awakening Mother Ewya. In a way, the last fight is a replay of what we saw in Aliens -- with a mother and her colony against a lone, independent, let's-dance warrior (Signourney, in Aliens) -- but with a reversed outcome. Felt that way to me.
Right-wingers who complain about the film, see it as leftist, should note that Cameron takes extra care to make the military grunts seem like ill-groomed anarchists. That is, when people see them, they may as quickly think anarchist street-youth -- or even, disspoiled tree-huggers -- as they do military men. Got the Olympics coming to Vancouver, and the public seems in mind to imagine its leftie protestors as this kind of foul. The mountain-loving folk who just can't wait, can't imagine why anyone would want to spoil their outdoor, innocent, sporty fun.