Aang vs Korra – Which character and which series is better?
For some reason, I decided to binge watch all of Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) on the weekend, because procrastination, am I right? And after not having seen the show in a bit over four years, I was happy to see that it still holds up.
So obviously as I finish I hit up the group chat, getting my friends talking about the series. Naturally we ended up with the question, which was better, ATLA or Avatar: The Legend of Korra (LoK)?
Obviously, the shows are very different, with a five year difference between each other. We can all say with a lot of clarity that ATLA is clouded in childhood nostalgia, while LoK had the impossible task of topping the unrealistically high standards left by its predecessor.
So today I’m going to be dividing this debate into four elements (see what I did there?), focusing on: The Avatar, Team Avatar, The Villains, and The World-Building, in order to determine which was the superior series.
So the first straight-forward question is, who was the better Avatar?
If you take a look back to ATLA, you could say that Aang was definitely a master of Airbending, arguably as well for Water and Earthbending, but his Firebending was only passable. In his defence though he only had a year to master the elements so a lot of his training was really rushed.
Korra on the other hand had completely mastered all of the elements, even metal-bending. Aang didn’t even accomplish that, but, she also had a lot longer to get them under her belt.
Now taking a look back to the most epic fights in each series, Aang vs Ozai and Korra vs Zaheer, it’s hard to tell who’s more powerful. Don’t believe me? Watch them again. Not only do they both have very similar scenery, they’re both battles which are mountain-shattering. And to all the haters saying that Korra didn’t really beat Zaheer, just remember that she was also fighting off a poison which was slowly killing her.
Another point to consider is that while Aang’s fighting style has always been more evasive and defensive, Korra is A LOT MORE AGGRESSIVE… at first.
If they were to fight, let’s say when both were first introduced, I reckon that Aang, even with only one element would be able to beat Korra, just because Aang is slippery af, and would use Korra’s own ferociousness against her. But by the time the series ends, Korra is more tempered and Aang is more determined and decisive in how he needs to fight, which would eventually lead to an almost even fight.
It’s important to remember that the complaints fans have against Korra – that she’s more volatile and brutish – are resolved by the end of the series. She becomes calm, collected, patient and looks to solutions other than violence to bring balance to the world, which is something Aang had straight away.
Aang was also very flawed at first. A lot of his character development came from him dealing with the fact that he ran away from his responsibilities and the immense pressure he was under to kill the Fire Lord. Aang learnt to be more resilient, stronger, and braver – he grew up, and then became the Avatar that everyone loves.
And let me remind you, both Avatars were whiny as fuck, and very (I mean very) angsty.
I’m going to take the easy way out and say that by the time the series ends, Aang was the better Avatar. Aang vs Korra are so evenly matched on all fronts, and that’s just because the writers did such an amazing job, providing us with some flawed characters who grew up and developed into stronger, better people.
The only way to really differentiate between these two stars is by addressing the fact that everyone liked Aang – even the people on camp Korra. But boy, do a lot of people not like Korra.
So next up in Aang vs Korra: Who had a better team of supporting benders and non-benders?
Starting off in the Aang corner, we have Katara, an expert healer, a master Waterbender, and also a Bloodbender.
Sokka is the team’s pun-loving strategist and weapons expert, having no bending abilities whatsoever.
Toph, the greatest Earthbender of all time, the Blind Bandit who can see by sensing the vibrations of the world from the ground, was the inventor of Metalbending – that’s so metal… right?
Then there’s Prince Zuko, the Firebender of the team. He’s destined to reclaim his HONOUR and is by far one of the most complex and well-written characters in this entire series – and that’s in a show where even a flying air-bison has amazing character development.
To top off the list, we have Suki, a warrior from the island of Kyoshi, trained in espionage and warfare, and is pretty damned cool.
On the other end, we have the power-brothers Mako and Bolin! Detective Mako is the team’s Firebender, who is the first person on an Avatar team to be able to control lightning – not even Zuko could pull that off.
Then we have Nuktuk, Hero of the South! By which I mean Bolin, the comedic humour of Team Avatar who, while not being able to bend metal, was discovered to everyone’s bloody delight to be a Lavabender!
Enter Asami, the Avatar universe’s version of Batman, Iron Man and the Arrow. Which means she’s rich and has access to equipment to take down benders and non-benders alike.
All these characters are really complex, inherently likeable, and are just so god damn cool! The advantage here definitely goes to Team Aang, mainly because of the fact that they are all individually legendary. Team Korra definitely has some powerhouses but they don’t necessarily compare with the originals. So that’s another point for ATLA.
Okay this is easy.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the villains are localised to one family, and spread semi evenly over three seasons. The first season introduces Zuko as the villain, slowly progressing to an anti-hero then an actual hero in the following seasons.
As a villain, he was and wasn’t threatening. He was powerful, but stupid as hell, with his failures in capturing the Avatar making him seem utterly incompetent. Surprisingly, the more he lays off his hunt for the Avatar, the more formidable he becomes.
The second season introduces Princess Azula along with her partners Mai and Ty-Lee. The three of them together are a force to be reckoned with, taking down Team Avatar more easily than Anakin being denied the rank of Jedi Master. Regardless, Azula was ruthless, cruel, calculating and manipulative… and also crazy. She was the perfect villain in so many ways, doing real justice for the series.
And then we have Fire-Lord Ozai, the never-seen always present arch-villain, like the Emperor in Star Wars (the joke here is that Ozai is played by Mark Hamil, who was Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Not a relevant point, but I just love Mark Hamil). We only ever saw how bad-ass he was at the series finale, but damn if he didn’t make a hell of an impression.
For LoK, there are four main villains, Amon, Unalaq/Vaatu, Zaheer and Kuvira.
Amon was a good way to reintroduce the series. He was original, and threatening to any bender out there eradicating their bending, their source of power. Having said that, he was a pretty nothing villain.
Unalaq and Vaatu… Well without them, there wouldn’t have been a reunification with both human and spirit worlds. So while they also felt like a generic throwaway villain, they helped the Avatar’s real purpose in bringing back balance to the world – take that Aang!
Then there’s Kuvira who was going to reunify the Earth Kingdom, and maybe even the rest of the world, fusing elements eerily reminiscent of the Second World War.
BUT. Let me tell you. Zaheer. Wow. Just, wow. Zaheer is the best villain. It’s not a competition at all. He took everything that made Azula great, then add in his team of P’Li (combustion lady), Ming-Hua (water for arms), and Ghazan (Lavabender) and you have the most formidable team in the Avatar Universe. Team Zaheer could have wiped the floor with Team Aang, did with Team Korra on multiple occassions, and I’m sure all of them could have taken out Ozai during Sozin’s comet.
So this round goes to Korra. Moving on!
Now I want to talk about the world-building in these series’, enriching the lore and history which made the ‘Avatarverse’.
ATLA showed us the history and genocide of the Airbenders, the rise of the Fire Nation, the Wars against the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom, the Fascist Utopia of Ba Sing Se, General Iroh and so much more.
Avatar: The Legend of Korra went so much deeper. We have the introduction of the first Avatar, Avatar Wan, The Eternal Battle between Raava and Vaatu, the Expansion of the Spirit World, General Iroh’s return to the Spirit World, the Rise of The Beifong family, the creation of Zaofu, the incompetency of Republic City, and the rebuilding of the Air-Nation.
Much like dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, LoK did not lack on building on the foundations which was Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both had amazing storytelling, and both series’ felt full and complete. However, I think this round goes to Korra, because they had the unfair advantage of exploring its own world, and building onto the remnants which were left from ATLA – which just means fans get to gush when they see Zuko or Toff or Katara or Iroh again.
So far we’re at two for two in the Aang vs Korra contest, and I honestly can’t decide what was better, because these are both just excellent shows. My own personal belief is that Korra had the better series, but after this review, I can’t make up my mind anymore.
Yeah I’m chickening out. Avatar Wan was the best Avatar.
#TheBestWan #WanWithTheWorld #DoTheThingZhuLi #ThatsRoughBuddy.