Legend of Korra Was Better Than the Last Airbender

Disclaimer: If you have yet to see one or both of these shows, there are many possible spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk!

We’re all familiar with the gleaming blue arrows and eyes of the Avatar who is supposed to be the master of all elements. The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender each have differences that make them unique in their own right. However, I find myself leaning more towards the Legend of Korra series rather than Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA). Here’s why.

Story Line and Character Development

Throughout the two shows, each Avatar, be it Aang or Korra, came across a fascist villain with genocide on the brain. An obvious difference between the two Avatars is that Aang is 12 years old (technically 112) and Korra is about 16 years old.

I don’t know about you, but if I faced a genocidal, egotistical tyrant at Aang or Korra’s age, I would be pretty traumatized. This doesn’t appear to be an issue with Aang in the series despite him being a child. At such an impressionable age, he has the responsibility of saving the world on his shoulders. Yet, we didn’t quite get the whole “journey to find myself” experience as we did with Korra.

Yes, Aang needed some advice from his previous lives about whether or not he should kill the Fire Lord, but we don’t see much of an emotional side to a child of this age. Aang has been through some traumatizing stuff.

He was stuck in an iceberg for a century, his mentor and people were wiped out from the face of the Earth during his time in the iceberg AND he was supposed to save the world. There are so many things throughout ATLA that should have provoked a more realistic response from the Aang.

Korra, on the other hand, lives through her trauma and takes us on her journey to bettering herself. Korra’s story is much more relatable in my mind because it’s so much more realistic for someone to go through what she did and react in the ways that Korra did. Korra teaches the audience that a true hero isn’t one who doesn’t fear but rather one who confronts their fear.

Lack of Common Tropes

In the original comics, KorrAsami is a real thing but Nickelodeon was too cowardly to represent the LGBTQ+ community like that. Korra didn’t need to run to Mako or Bolin every time she faced a difficult hurdle. Mako and Bolin played the same role that Katara played for Aang – a support system.

This is also something that draws me more towards Korra than the Last Airbender. Korra isn’t reduced to a helpless woman who needs a man to help solve her problems. Mako just ends up being a dumbass instead.

Unlike in ATLA, women of the Legend of Korra stood up to those who attempted to overshadow or belittle them. Asami was also a smart character rather than just being the beauty of the show. Similar to Asami, Zhu Li shows the audience she is more than just an assistant to a wealthy man.

Pacing of the Show

For some reason, ATLA being centred around kids but still having an end goal to defeat an entire army of Firebenders is just ridiculous. It would have suited Aang better to be introduced to villains that changed every season. Similar to children, the show should have given Aang villains that changed every so often.

Korra faced many villains that lead her to the final event of the show. Although some had a different goal than Unalaq, each villain strengthened her. I can’t say the same for Aang. He learned all four types of bending, sure, but he was still afraid of using firebending all due to one incident. There wasn’t any real development coming from Aang nor did the structure of the first show really help him grow.

Korra is Just More Powerful

Last but not least, Korra was definitely a more powerful Avatar than Aang. She barely used the Avatar State to defeat the villains in her show. She was also mentally stronger than Aang. Korra overcame her trauma and dealt with the consequences of her actions. Unlike Korra, Aang didn’t have to face the music after his major fights, moves or behaviour. Aang was revered regardless. Korra didn’t get similar treatment which makes her all the more powerful.

Korra didn’t need validation from people around her and was confident within herself as the Avatar. She learned to be true to herself and fought for what she believed in. Korra is simply the better Avatar.