The Legend of Korra is a good show and a more than worthy addition to the Avatar canon. I said it. This is just like the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit trilogies debacle. Just because it’s not the original doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s different and if it were exactly the same than all of you whiners would be complaining about how unoriginal it is, what a rip off it is, and you’d still be in exactly the same place. Don’t try to deny it, I saw you all do it when The Force Awakens came out and for the rest of that franchise too. And I’m tired of your whining, which I know is an unpopular statement to make on internet but oh my god my patience only goes so far.
Anyway back to Korra.
The Legend of Korra is set to make its debut on Netflix on August 14th and there were immediately two reactions to the news. Either you were excited or you weren’t to put it mildly. Being a fan, I was in the excited camp and I’m ready to dive back into that world. Not that I’e left since I’ve been sitting with the comics, novels, and The Last Airbender since its release back in May.
What’s the point of this then? It’s to give you my hot take on The Legend of Korra and why you shouldn’t dismiss it. DEAL WITH IT.
Avatar Korra v. Avatar Aang
First off, there shouldn’t even be a comparison in the first place. People seem to dislike Korra because in their minds Aang was the epitome of what an Avatar should be. However, they’re both people with flaws, or need I remind you that Aang really avoided having to be the Avatar? So much that it ended up in a 100 year war that saw the decimation of one nation, the colonization of another, and a bombardment of the third? Aang’s fear over suddenly having so much responsibility and change thrust on him is justified, he’s just a kid after all, but that doesn’t change the fact that even if he didn’t mean for it to happen, his disappearance put the world out of balance.
In Korra we see the opposite problem. We see an Avatar that fully embraces the role. Being the Avatar is who Korra is , and by the time we get to her the audience understands what that means. So when she makes a decision that backfires, or seems not to think things through, the audience refuses to cut her anymore slack than the people of Republic City do. The sympathy that was afforded Aang is not afforded to Korra. Where the audience was in an outcry that Aang was not being allowed his identity away from the Avatar, Korra is only allowed to be the Avatar. The double standard here is glaring. Why can’t Korra be allowed her journey for personal identity the way that Aang was allowed a journey to being the Avatar?
Korra is neither a better nor worse Avatar than Aang, she’s just different. The same way that Aang was different from Roku who was different from Kyoshi and so on. Each Avatar is met with their own unique set of challenges during their tenure that they do their best to meet. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t because at the end of the day as all powerful as the Avatar is, they’re still just people.
Political Villains vs One Big Bad
As awesome as Azula is, the villains in The Legend of Korra are far more complex and interesting than Fire Lord Ozai, who was the ‘official big bad’ in Avatar the Last Airbender. Ozai was a name and an idea for most of the series, only appearing in a handful of episodes in the final season. The villains in The Legend of Korra however, are always clear and present threats. Amon, Unalaaq, Zaheer, and Kuvira all had unique and thought out approaches for the evil deeds they were bent on enacting. Time is of the essence to defeat them, and Korra has to act and make decisions accordingly. Unlike Aang, she doesn’t have a timeframe for when her villains will attack. She has to be quick and decisive as Avatars Roku and Yangchen had once counseled Aang to be. She has to deliver justice to bring peace to Republic City as Kyoshi advised. Where one might have been frustrated that Aang wouldn’t follow the advice given to him, they also look down on Korra for following it.
Each villain in The Legend of Korra forces her to confront a part of herself that she had ignored or need to cultivate to become a more fullfilled person, not just Avatar. Each villain forced Korra to consider the ways in which they systems of Republic City and the world were lacking and try to fix them. She had to be the bridge between benders and non-benders when facing Amon and the in-equalities both groups of people faced. She had to reckon with the past and learn from it to restore balance between the physical and spiritual worlds when facing Unalaq. She had to face the anarchy being supported by Zaheer and the Red Lotus that threatened the stability of the entire world. Against Kuvira, Korra had to come face to face with a facist leader whose overconfidence and self-righteousness was a mirror into who she had been before her struggles with the Red Lotus.
Each villain forces Korra to rethink and re-evaluate herself and the world around her. She grows as a person and as an Avatar as a result of her endeavors.
Progress vs Tradition
Personally, I loved the aesthetic of The Legend of Korra which borrowed heavily from the 1920s in America. It really shows the progress the world has made since the end of the 100 year war. It didn’t feel out pf place or too fast when you consider how the same amount of progress more or less occurred in or actual world as well.
I can understand why some people might have been put off by it, since some of the charm of Avatar was that it felt like a fairy tale in that it happened long ago, once upon a time. But Avatar had already slowly started to move towards progress on its own, at least where the Fire Nation was concerned. They had machinery and technology that was more reminiscent of today than not, so the progress seen in Korra is really just a natural progression.
In the Avatar the Last Airbender comic North and South Sokka and Katara contend with the same dilemma upon their return to the Southern Water Tribe after the war. Where Katara is resistent, Sokka is enthusiastic and I feel like that makes a great parallel in the way people regard The Legend of Korra. There’s a longing for the way things were but nostalgia shouldn’t get in the way of enjoyment of the new.
The Legend of Korra
I can only hope that I’ve convinced you all with my stream of consciousness rambles to think twice before dismissing The Legend of Korra. It has the same great storytelling and characters that were aplenty in Avatar just in new packaging. And if you’re still pining for the old, well there are some Easter eggs and appearances that would be worth your while….
Will you be watching The Legend of Korra on Netflix? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image via Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/797981627717633035/
I'm a writer based in California. I received my Bachelor's and Master's in Literature from San Francisco State University. I dream of one day writing books of my own and maybe even being part of a writer's room for a show! I love to talk about pop culture, books, and travel to anyone willing to listen. Some of my favorite topics in those categories are "Avatar the Last Airbender", "Gilmore Girls", the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mexico, and Paris. My favorite thing in the world though is my dog, he's just the cutest!