Between Aftermost Airbender and Legend of Korra, Avatar has seven seasons with seven villains that run the breadth from hot debris to top quality. I’m not alike counting Zuko, who’s bluntly in a altered chic altogether. So afore Nickelodeon’s new Avatar flat expands this account by authoritative article added than a YouTube access of highlight reels, let’s attending at all the Avatar villains and ascertain what makes them accomplish or fail.
It’s alone accustomed that the franchise’s affliction division would additionally acquire its affliction villain. That’s division two of Korra, which wastes an complete adventure giving Korra absent-mindedness aback it was already abominably awkward for time. But to accord acclaim breadth acclaim is due: Unalaq doesn’t assume too bad at first. In fact, he appears to be an abashed mentor, addition who wants to advise Korra about the alcohol but additionally has goals she opposes. Specifically, Unalaq wants to occupy the south pole and force its association to beam arctic customs.
I’m a big fan of the abashed coach trope, so Unalaq absolutely had me aflame at first, but that activity doesn’t last. You see, Unalaq’s complete plan is to accessible the arctic and south spirit portals, which will let him absorb with the affronted spirit Vaatu and about become a god. He needs Korra’s cooperation to accessible the portals, and he has it until he invades her home at the south pole and puts her ancestor in prison. This is a attenuate instance of a villain acquisition himself, and I cannot appreciate what his activity is declared to be. If he merges with Vaatu, he’ll be about all-powerful, and he can accomplish the south do whatever he wants. If he doesn’t, he can consistently access a few canicule later. Launching the aggression afore Korra has opened both portals aloof makes Unalaq’s job harder.
There’s article far worse about Unalaq’s plan though: aggregate associated with him, from his monster accouchement to the ailing brash retconning of Avatar’s history. What’s that, did you balloon the monster children? His two kids, Eska and Desna, are not alone fatigued abnormally than the added characters, but they love annihilation to an about Snidely Whiplash degree. Unalaq seems to acquire aloft them adequately well, so I acquire no abstraction breadth those personality ancestry came from. It seems the writers didn’t either, as the ancestors get below and below acute the best they’re in the show. I’m academic they’re declared to be a apology of teenagers in a goth phase, but it aloof does not work.
The ambience retcons are alike worse. I apperceive you anticipation that bodies abstruse angle from belief the world’s mystical creatures like dragons and badgermoles* but no, it was absolutely a accumulation of bobcat turtles handing out basal ascendancy like candy. Well, that’s a lot below cool. Maybe in the abutting series, we can acknowledge that angle absolutely comes from midichlorians. Unalaq’s affronted plan additionally reveals that aback bodies and alcohol originally came into conflict, the aboriginal Avatar’s band-aid was to banish all alcohol from the complete apple forever. And we’re declared to like the aboriginal Avatar. Gross.
The apogee of this abominable pyramid is that acknowledgment to Unalaq, we now apperceive that the Avatar ambience is disconnected into a good/evil binary. Remember Vaatu? Turns out he’s the abundant spirit of black and chaos. His opposite, Raava, is the abundant spirit of ablaze and peace. Now, it’s accessible to present black and anarchy afterwards moral judgment, but that’s not what Legend of Korra does. Instead, it’s complete bright that if Vaatu anytime wins his activity with Raava, the apple will anon go to crap. That’s aloof our accepted angel of God and Satan repackaged as East Asian–sounding spirits.
To be clear: good/evil binaries are not inherently bad. You can acquire a abundant adventure about banishing the aphotic god aback from beginning they came. The botheration is that Avatar has consistently taken a added counterbalanced approach, and I beggarly that literally. None of the armament in Avatar, be they aspect types or nation states, are inherently evil. In Aftermost Airbender, the botheration wasn’t that blaze was supernaturally bad; it’s that the Blaze Nation was advancing anybody else. The apple was out of balance.
Vaatu and Raava don’t fit with the setting’s accustomed themes, and bluntly they’re a lot below interesting. Fortunately, they all but abandon afterwards this season, but they’re about continued abundant to annoyance Unalaq bottomward with them. Also, it’s absolutely cryptic what Unalaq thinks he’s gonna get from amalgamation with Vaatu. Unalaq’s declared appetite is to accompany alcohol aback into the world, but Vaatu is acutely cool evil, and it doesn’t assume like Unalaq had a plan for ambidextrous with that.
Hey look, it’s Zaheer, baton of the Red Lotus Society! The Red Lotus has consistently been around, and if you’ve never heard of them, it’s alone because they’re so acceptable at hiding. Okay, I ability still be a little affronted that Legend of Korra’s third division alien a big anti-Avatar cabal afterwards any accretion in the antecedent seasons. Aloof a little.
Zaheer’s aboriginal botheration is aloof that: he and the draft of the Red Lotus are abundantly rushed. Unalaq was alien out of nowhere, too, but he was aloof Korra’s uncle and arch of the Arctic Baptize Tribe. That doesn’t booty a lot of explanation. In division three, we acquire to explain the abstraction of an anti-Avatar abstruse society, afresh get into the backstory of Zaheer and his appropriate aggregation of affronted PCs. All in a 13-episode season.
Zaheer’s additional botheration is that he’s a harbinger anarchist. And I don’t aloof beggarly he wants to account chaos. His abounding speeches accomplish it bright that he subscribes to agitator political philosophy. The harbinger allotment is that his aesthetics seems to alone go as far as killing political leaders, afresh acquisitive the draft will array itself out. Historically, there acquire been anarchists who took that view, but the all-inclusive majority of agitator political activity has consistently focused on acclimation workers. Best anarchists apperceive and acquire accepted that afterwards banal unity, abolition kings and presidents will aloof account anarchy and destruction.
Not Zaheer though. He wants to jump beeline to the fun annihilation bit. This is annoying for two reasons. The aboriginal is that if you apperceive annihilation about agitator political thought, Zaheer looks abundantly incompetent. What acceptable does it do for him to asphyxiate the Earth Queen if there are no artisan collectives to booty her place? The additional is that complete anarchists about face acrid bigotry accurately because so abounding bodies anticipate their credo is annihilation but abandon and chaos.
Even already we acquire Zaheer’s backward politics, his plan to annihilate Korra and end the Avatar aeon doesn’t accomplish sense. Anarchists argue those who ascendancy political power: rulers and the like. The Avatar doesn’t fit that description. The Avatar’s complete job is to accumulate the accord amid four nations, not to accomplish those nations’ political systems. In fairness, Korra also enforces the law, but Zaheer was absorbed on killing her continued afore that. Also, the plan itself requires Korra to go into the Avatar State, but alone afterwards Zaheer has berserk her. If she enters the Avatar State earlier, conceivably to abstain actuality poisoned, he’s up a brook afterwards a paddle. Fortunately, Korra mostly forgets about the Avatar State in division three.
Finally, Zaheer aloof isn’t that aggressive as a bad guy. He’s a accomplished airbender, but his big abode is acquirements how to fly. That’s article all added airbenders could already do application their gliders. How intimidating. Still, he array college than Unalaq because none of Zaheer’s applesauce undermines the complete apple of Avatar.
From the moment Amon and his Equalists aboriginal appear in division one, it’s bright there’s a problem: Legend of Korra has created a activity of systemic oppression, afresh fabricated the afflicted accumulation into villains. That activity is amid benders and non-benders, with Amon affronted on the non-bender side. I won’t say it’s absurd to do this well, as actuality a advocate does not automatically accomplish you a acceptable person, but it’s complete difficult. Sadly, Legend of Korra is not up to the task.
To the show’s acclaim though, it does get the ability dynamics right. We see that benders with their bewitched aggressive arts anatomy a advantaged class, while non-benders are about abject or neglected. There are bright grievances here, which is bigger than assuming that bodies abutment an insurgence for no reason, but it turns into a botheration aback the actualization can’t chase through. Afterwards acquisition Amon, our heroes do annihilation to allay the problems that acquired his insurgence in the aboriginal place. The abutting we get is some account answer that Republic City is now complete by an adopted admiral instead of a board formed by the added nations.
At best, that’s a crabbed step. The alone change we see is that Republic City now has political independence, which was never article the Equalists or their supporters cared about. While the new admiral is a non-bender, there’s annihilation to announce he has any absorption in alleviative the systemic issues we saw earlier. The abridgement of chase through ability axis from the writers not animate how abounding episodes they’d absolutely acquire to assignment with aback planning the series, but that doesn’t fix the problem.
What about Amon himself though? Here’s breadth he draws advanced of Zaheer and Unalaq, as Amon is one alarming customer. Both his accomplishments and his actualization are mysterious, as he wears a chilling affectation at all times. Somehow, he can booty people’s angle away, or at atomic abolish it. That’s article alone the Avatar could do before. Questions arena in the air as anniversary adventure of the aboriginal division unfolds: Who is Amon? Why does he appetite to rid the apple of benders? Breadth did he get his powers? Mystery is a aloft agency in befitting a villain scary, and Amon has endless of it.
Then the acknowledge arrives and aggregate comes aerobatics down. Amon turns out to be… the son of a mob bang-up that Aang fought aback in the day. He alone covered his face so a ancillary appearance wouldn’t accept him. That’s what we alarm a Some Guy reveal. Who was Amon? You know, some guy. Acquirements Amon’s accurate appearance doesn’t change the adventure in any way, nor does it afford ablaze on his motivation. We apprentice that his ancestor abused him, but his ancestor wasn’t alike a bender by then, acknowledgment to Aang. That makes Amon’s abhorrence of benders cool arbitrary. He ability as able-bodied abhorrence all macho ascendancy abstracts or anybody from the Baptize Tribe, as that’s breadth his ancestor aloft him.
As to how Amon did what he did: it was claret angle all the way down. Admitting ahead accustomed limits, Amon can claret angle at any time, and he doesn’t alike acquire to use aggressive arts moves like every added bender. And his claret admiral can booty abroad his victim’s bending, somehow. I assumption angle absolutely depends on unclogged arteries.
When you carefully adumbrate article about an important character, abnormally the basic villain, you actualize expectations that charge to be fulfilled. If you don’t acquire a appropriately absorbing reveal, afresh don’t burrow those things in the aboriginal place! Political issues aside, Amon could acquire been abundant if his secrets had ashore the landing. Instead, he’s yet addition archetype of writers able way added than they can deliver.
Admit it: you’re abashed to see Aftermost Airbender’s final bang-up at the beggarly of this list. Aftermost Airbender is a abundant show, and its third division is decidedly good, so how can its villain possibly be annihilation but top shelf? Mainly because he’s boring, and not alike Mark Hamill’s articulation acting can fix that.
For the aboriginal and additional season, Ozai is kept complete mysterious. We never see his face or apprehend him talk, alike aback he appears in Zuko’s flashbacks. This creates a bearings agnate to Amon’s, admitting not as intense. By befitting Ozai carefully mysterious, the actualization raises expectations of what he’ll be already he’s assuredly present.
That moment comes in division three, and he’s aloof a guy. A beggarly guy to be sure, but about what you’d apprehend from the adjudicator of an expansionist authority at war. There’s annihilation hasty about him, which makes admirers admiration why he was kept so abstruse in antecedent seasons. It additionally agency he doesn’t angle out. Compared to some of the franchise’s added baroque villains, Ozai is kinda bland.
What about his blackmail level? He could accomplish up for a abridgement of personality by actuality cool scary. Unfortunately, he’s already afresh average. The characters say he’s complete powerful, and as addition accompanying to able firebenders like Zuko, Iroh, and Azula, that’s absolutely plausible. But we’ve never absolutely apparent him do anything. Instead, he’s been cloistral in the administrative alcazar aback the actualization started. His alone activity that we apperceive about is aback he burns a 13-year-old Zuko in a flashback, and Zuko doesn’t alike activity back.
Nor does he get any blackmail as baton of the Blaze Nation. We apperceive he goes to war meetings, but whenever we see his army in action, its leaders assume to be acting on their own initiative, with little or no charge from the capital. Maybe he’s abundant at acclimation logistics, but if so we never see it. The one time we see one of his affairs in action, it doesn’t accomplish any sense, as he orders his aeroplane agile to bake bottomward all of the baffled Earth Kingdom application the ability addition from Sozin’s Comet.
It’s anon accessible this plan won’t assignment because the comet’s ability alone lasts a abbreviate while. Given the fleet’s starting location, they’d acquire run out of time afore they accomplished a busy area, alike if Aang hadn’t apparent up. Added fundamentally, this doesn’t serve the Blaze Nation’s interest. Alike the best barbarous conquistador doesn’t appetite to bake bottomward all the actuality they aloof conquered. That’s why Nazi Germany would abate or deport bodies from acreage it basic rather than ambience aggregate on fire.
With a black addition and little activity to his name, Ozai feels added like a video bold bang-up than annihilation else, patiently cat-and-mouse for the heroes to ability their ancillary quests afore they activity him. That all said, he doesn’t acquire any of the absolutely black mistakes of antecedent entries; he’s aloof not that interesting. The complete average.
Admiral Zhao is an abnormal villain: in a actualization about basal aggressive arts, complete little of Zhao’s blackmail comes from his concrete prowess. Afore the aboriginal division is over, it’s bright that both Aang and Zuko can exhausted him in a fight, and it seems acceptable Katara could do the aforementioned already she finishes leveling up at the arctic pole. And yet, he maintains a appropriate blackmail akin for his complete run on the show. How does he do it? Minions.
As his rank implies, Zhao is a aggressive leader. He has both fleets and armies at his disposal, acceptation the best our heroes can do is run abroad aback he shows up, alike if they can calmly booty him in a one-on-one fight. In fact, some of Zhao’s minions are absolutely too able for their own good. The Yuyan Archers in accurate accomplish abbreviate assignment of Aggregation Avatar afterwards breaking a sweat, and afresh we never see them again. Seems like article the Blaze Nation would use added often.
Other than issues with dematerialization archers, Zhao about puts his minions to acceptable use. He captures Aang a few times, and while the Avatar consistently escapes, it’s a difficult matter. Zhao additionally deals Zuko a draft by alarming up the adopted prince’s ship, giving Zuko some aloft injuries by animation standards. You can acquaint things are austere aback a character’s abrasion takes two accomplished episodes to achromatize away!
But Zhao’s consummate celebrity is the afterpiece of division one, aback he brings an unstoppable agile to beat the Arctic Baptize Tribe. We see his armament relentlessly advance through the Baptize Tribe’s defenses, but there’s added to it than that: Zhao has a plan to end waterbending consistently by annihilation the moon. Never apperception all the accident that will account to the draft of the world, including the Blaze Nation; Zhao’s got a activity to win. And he does it, too, authoritative it assume like all is lost. That’s a austere ability for a villain, alike if the heroes do acquisition a way to win later.
Personality wise, Zhao is annihilation to abode home about. He’s got your standard-issue affronted conquistador ancestry like appetite and ruthlessness, but annihilation that absolutely makes him angle out. That’s accept though, as Zuko is the season-one adversary with affecting depth. Zhao gets the army instead, because if Zuko had it, he’d be too able to ache with.
All told, Zhao is a acceptable anterior villain. He’s threatening, but not so aggressive that the fresh-faced heroes acquire no adventitious adjoin him. His activity is realistic, but not decidedly complex, which is accessible aback admirers are still acquirements the ins and outs of a world. Best importantly, Zhao doesn’t overstay his welcome.
Attacking the arctic pole is acutely Zhao’s aerial baptize mark. Already he fails there, he’ll never be a austere blackmail again, no amount how abounding tanks and battleships the Blaze Lord gives him. Fortunately, the writers knew bigger than to leave a defeated villain abnormality about to account trouble, and so Zhao is pulled below the after-effects by an affronted ocean spirit, never to be apparent again. Well, never to be apparent afresh until Korra’s airbending abecedary meets him abnormality about a accursed fog coffer in the spirit world, but we’ll let that slide.
Zhao’s abandonment opens allowance for a new villain to booty his place, added than abundant to acquire him a third abode slot. And what about his replacement? Don’t worry, we get to her, but aboriginal we acquire to birr aback over to Legend of Korra for a moment.
Hey look, it’s a Legend of Korra villain who isn’t a harbinger leftist. Things are attractive up! They’re attractive up alike added because clashing the added entries from her show, Kuvira is a abundant villain. The best actual acumen is that she doesn’t bounce absolutely formed from the arch of Zeus. Afore her season-four villainhood, Kuvira is a accessory accessory on aggregation good. We see her active about in the accomplishments absolutely a bit afore she assuredly takes off her helmet and gives us a name.
In complete fairness, I’ll accept this isn’t the best villain bureaucracy I’ve anytime seen. Alike with the three-year time jump, it’s a bit arrant to see this able soldier adapted into a accepted who can booty bottomward the Avatar. However, it’s still afar bigger than the accretion that any of Korra’s added villains get, which is none. It’s abundant that I’m at atomic not larboard apprehensive breadth the heck she came from. It additionally agency that Kuvira’s lieutenants are mostly characters we’ve already seen, as she recruited them from Aggregation Acceptable rather than inventing an absolutely new beloved squad. You won’t accept the time savings!
But Kuvira’s cachet as a aloft acceptable guy helps her in another, added basal way: it gives her an affecting affiliation to the heroes. This time they’re not affronted some rando they’ve never heard of. Kuvira is a associate in arms. Some on Aggregation Avatar alike owe her their lives. This affiliation helps accomplish Kuvira the best affectionate villain in the Avatar authorization aback Zuko. Legend of Korra approved and flopped with all three of its antecedent villains, but fourth time’s the agreeableness I guess.
The added agency that makes Kuvira affectionate is her motivation: she doesn’t appetite to see the Earth Kingdom angry aback over to an amateur monarch. That’s what created the country’s problems in the aboriginal place! Naturally, things would be bigger if she had complete ability instead by ambrosial to Earth Kingdom bellicism and casting the added nations as enemies to be defeated. You can see how a reasonable actuality would appear at Kuvira’s abstracts alike admitting it’s bright that she’s wrong.
Kuvira’s awful plan is additionally refreshingly coherent: afterwards chain the Earth Kingdom beneath her rule, she sets her architect on Republic City. She feels justified because Republic City is congenital on acreage originally taken from the Earth Kingdom by the Blaze Nation in its hundred-year war. Again, you can see breadth she’s advancing from here. Her nation was a victim in that war, and aback it was over, they had to accord up rights to a block of area in the name of peace? Alike if xenophobic acquisition isn’t the solution, that’s a accepted grievance.
And in addition aboriginal for Legend of Korra, some of Kurvira’s grievances are absolutely addressed already she’s defeated. The Earth King isn’t adequate to power, and instead abdicates in favor of a alteration to democracy. That’s a huge footfall up from Amon and Zaheer, whose issues were aloof abandoned already the division ended. Granted, Republic City is still congenital on acreage baseborn from the Earth Kingdom, and it doesn’t assume like anyone is in a bustle to abode that barbed problem. Alike so, I’ll booty what I can get.
Finally, Kuvira has an accomplished blackmail akin throughout the fourth season. She has Zhao’s able army but is additionally a badass in her own right, besting the heroes several times through both animal backbone and able tactics. It’s a amusement to watch her work.
In additional place, Kuvira showed us how able-bodied a affectionate villain can work. Now, Azula is actuality in aboriginal abode to actualization us that a villain doesn’t acquire to be affectionate at all. She’s atrocious and vindictive, affronted bottomward to her core, and she basks in it. For best villains, such ancestry would appear off as cartoonish, but Azula makes them work, and there are two affidavit why.
The aboriginal is that we get abundant ambience from Azula’s accomplishments to accept why she acts like this. She was aloft as the advantaged adolescent of a genocidal conqueror. Her father, Ozai, got his appellation through patricide, and it’s bright that he absolute an inherent faculty of ahead in Azula. From there, Azula’s unparalleled aptitude did the rest. Acutely she absolutely is aloft to anybody else. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be so abundant bigger at firebending!
Perhaps added importantly, Azula turns her animality into an asset. Too often, writers anticipate that accidental acts of acerbity will accomplish their villains added threatening, aback it absolutely makes the villain attending incompetent. Azula’s acerbity is annihilation but random. She uses it to burden allies into her cause, as they’re abashed of what she ability do to them. We aboriginal see this aback she recruits Ty Lee from the bazaar via adumbrated threats of afire the accomplished abode down, and afresh afresh aback she wins over the Dai Li* abstruse badge by acceptable them that alone she is adamant abundant to win the day. We additionally see Azula cleverly about-face accusation for Aang actuality animate assimilate Zuko, which secures her political position and messes with her brother’s arch at the aforementioned time. It’s a win-win!
Beyond her alarming manner, Azula is a cut aloft aback it comes to blackmail level. Aback she aboriginal appears, she runs the heroes ragged aloof to get abroad from her. The alone way the acceptable guys can defeat her is by ganging up on her six to one, and alike afresh she manages to escape with some quick thinking. Added importantly, she’s the alone Avatar villain to accomplish at her division afterpiece goal: she captures the Earth Kingdom basic admitting all our heroes’ efforts to stop her. Naturally, she does this both by actuality a about unstoppable firebender and by recruiting key allies at absolutely the appropriate moment. As addition who thinks we should abode villains cerebration on their anxiety added often, I adulation to see it.
Azula’s alone complete downside is that Aftermost Airbender doesn’t let her alive up to her abounding potential. At the end of division two, she is able-bodied positioned to be the final bang-up of division three. She has a claimed affiliation with our heroes afterwards affronted them for an complete season, not to acknowledgment actuality Zuko’s sister, and she’s already defeated them once. That would accomplish aftereffect so abundant added satisfying. Instead, Azula is pushed abreast in favor of Ozai, who is not about as interesting. Zuko and Katara’s final activity adjoin Azula is still one of the best fights to anytime adroitness our screen, but it leaves me apprehensive what could acquire been if alone the adult of dejected blaze had been accustomed to booty her applicable place.
With that bit of cornball theorizing, we draw this baronial to a close. My alone affliction is that there are a bald seven Avatar villains to rank. Alike admitting I was about aghast with Legend of Korra, I’d still adulation to see added from the Avatar franchise. I aloof achievement our abutting villain is added like Kuvira than Unalaq.
How To Write A Good Villain – How To Write A Good Villain
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