Open Channel: Where Do You Stand in the Avatar Wars?

Open Channel: Where Do You Stand in the Avatar Wars?
Korra, the Avatar. Deal with it. Or... don't? (Image: Nickelodeon)

Is Aang the Avatar for you? Or is Korra the Avatar and do you, in fact, just have to deal with it?

A friend of mine recently published an interesting essay over on Polygon in which he argues that, despite Aang being a wonderful and beloved protagonist, Korra is, in the fiction of the Avatar: the Last Airbender universe, a more significant Avatar, one who leaves a more complex legacy and presided over a more challenging time for the role. As he writes:

While Aang fought a prolific and necessary battle of good vs. evil against an unrelenting tyrant on behalf of the world, Korra’s battle is more nuanced, more about fighting embedded systems of oppression, disenfranchisement, and well-intentioned totalitarianism played out via the proxy of the series’ antagonists.

In essence, he argues that Korra’s role in the history of her world, as a leader forced to deal with a strange sort of modernity and the implications of social systems that Aang could never have predicted, deals with and ends up maturing alongside more complex, more real-world resonant problems than those tackled in Avatar: the Last Airbender, and that Korra, perhaps, is a more nuanced character as a result.

It’s an interesting argument, and one I’m sympathetic to. While I love Aang, Korra is the Avatar I find myself thinking about more, many years after having watched both shows. (I still need to revisit them now that Netflix has that covered.) I adore Korra and her complicated flaws, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s bisexual with a girlfriend, either, frankly. I can’t deny that appeals to my interests.

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What about you, dear reader? Looking for a space to (politely!) debate the relative virtues and vices of the two protagonists of the Avatar series? Are you Team Aang or Team Korra? Let’s get some discourse going!

Again: politely, and constructively.