There is a lot of controversy in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom about The Legend of Korra. What do you think?
by Tara Prem
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most popular and beloved kid shows ever made. Its perfect mixture of humor, adventure, and reality makes it an amazing show to watch. So, naturally, the creators of Avatar would want to make a sequel. That sequel came in the form of The Legend of Korra, airing on Nickelodeon in 2012. However, this sequel to Avatar has sparked controversy among the fan base about whether it is a good show to watch. That’s where the Trilemma is presented: Is The Legend of Korra a good show to watch, is it a bad show to watch, or is there a neutral perspective?
The Legend of Korra is a Good Show:
One of the main reasons why people believe Korra is such a good show is the clear contrast between Korra, the protagonist of The Legend of Korra, and Aang, the protagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender. While Aang is humble and shy at first and must learn to become confident and powerful, Korra is completely different. She starts off as overconfident and naive, and learns humility as the show progresses. This provides an interesting contrast between character growth, which clears the way for different hero’s journeys. Korra also has a complex storyline in which she must recover from losing her control over the elements, being poisoned by the sinister Red Lotus, losing the Avatar Spirit and her past lives, and more.
Another reason why people believe Korra is good is because of the modern, more relatable setting that the show takes place in. While Avatar: The Last Airbender was revealed to have taken place in the late 1800s, The Legend of Korra took place in the 1900s, a time when industrialization was booming. Because of the technological improvements that occurred between both shows, The Legend of Korra takes place in Republic City, which seems to be more of a relatable atmosphere for most.
The final reason why people like The Legend of Korra is the villains. While the villains from Avatar: The Last Airbender are dangerous, they usually have a sole cliche goal: To take over the world. However, the villains from The Legend of Korra have more sinister, complex goals. In Season 1 of The Legend of Korra, Amon and the Equalists seek to rid the world of all Airbenders, Waterbenders, Earthbenders, and Firebenders forever, and their largest goal is to take the Avatar’s bending away forever. In the second season, the villain Unalaq’s mission is to free and merge with Vaatu, the Spirit of Darkness, to start 10,000 years of darkness and to make spirits live with humans. In the third season, The Red Lotus organization attempts to assassinate the leaders of each of the Four Nations and finally destroy the Avatar by ending the Avatar Cycle. Finally, in the fourth season, mad dictator Kuvira tries to take over the United Republic of Nations and claim the land for the Earth Empire.
What is interesting is that all of these villains had what they thought were good intentions. Amon wanted to rid the world of benders because he thought that they destroyed the idea of equality for non-benders. Unalaq, who was always close to the spirits, believed that the only way to restore balance into the world was by allowing spirits and humans to coexist, which he believed could only be done by freeing Vaatu. The Red Lotus wanted a new, better, world order, which they tried to do by destroying the Avatar and killing world leaders. Finally, Kuvira attempted to take over the United Republic of Nations because she wished to reclaim the land that she believed was stolen from the Earth Kingdom. She also became a dictator over the Earth Empire because she wanted to create order after the chaos following the death of the Earth Queen. Almost all of the villains were shown to be human too. The scene of Amon’s death is wonderfully made and shows that he still loves his brother, councilman Tarrlok. Also, right before he dies, Amon sheds one final tear of happiness in response to his brother Tarrlok saying, “It will be just like the good old days.” In Season 3, Zaheer, the leader of the Red Lotus, shows his humanity after having a conversation with P’Li, another group member: he tells her that he loves her, and she responds that she loves him too. Finally, in Season 4, something similar happens. Kuvira and her fiancé Bataar express their love for each other. Overall, one of the things that makes this show so great is its unique ability to show the softer sides of most of its villains.
The Legend of Korra is a Bad Show:
Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons that people dislike The Legend of Korra is Korra losing her past lives. In the finale of Season 2, the light spirit Raava is destroyed by the dark spirit Vaatu. Because of the death of Raava, whom Avatar Korra is merged with, all of Korra’s past lives cease to exist, even in the Spirit World. After a lot of buildup on the former avatars throughout both shows, it seems wrong and unthinkable to kill them off in a matter of seconds. After one whole show on Avatar Aang, he is suddenly killed with Avatar Roku and Avatar Wan.
Another main reason why people might dislike The Legend of Korra is that, unlike Avatar: The Last Airbender, it has a different plot for each season. In the original show, Avatar Aang’s one goal is to defeat the evil Fire Lord Ozai. Since the show is stretched over three seasons with one main plotline, more time is left for character development and other minor but important plot lines. However, in The Legend of Korra, Avatar Korra is constantly facing some villain or the other, resulting in less character development and rushed minor plot lines.
A third reason why Avatar: The Last Airbender fans might dislike The Legend of Korra is because of details that are noticeably not in line with those from the original show, messing up our perceptions of the show and characters. For example, The Legend of Korra constantly paints Aang in a bad light, repeatedly making him seem like a bad and partial father. Also, we barely see any of his trademark goofiness and humor the few times we see him in the show.
The final reason why people might hate the show is that the show makes large ideas and abilities from the original show seem unimportant. For example, in Avatar: The Last Airbender, we join Avatar Aang on his journey to master the four elements. We learn of the beautiful forms and significance of all four bending styles. However, in The Legend of Korra, bending seems like a common and humdrum ability. A sport is even made out of it - Pro Bending. Pro Bending, in the Legend of Korra character Tenzin’s own words, is “A mockery of the ancient art of bending”. Pro-Bending makes bending seem like an incredibly common, everyday art and takes away its beautiful style. Also, the Avatar State is revealed in the original show to be an incredibly powerful and dangerous force that allows Avatars to use the power of their past lives. Aang fears this power, afraid of what he is capable of doing to his friends with that much power. What's frustrating is that Korra seems to not care about this and even uses her dangerous power to win a race with her friends in Season 2. Additionally, though she uses her power to win something as small as a race, she is only seen using it in a few fight scenes.
Overall, those who think The Legend of Korra is a good show and those who think it is a bad show both have very valid points. However, my opinion is that The Legend of Korra is a good show, but it is definitely not as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the original show, and what can be better than that? But that’s only what I think! What’s your perspective?