Just as no one was surprised to learn that Avatar: The Last Airbender had become the most-watched show on Netflix, so too did no one bat an eye when fans of the show resumed debating over on Twitter whether the universally acclaimed story of Aang was better, worse or just as great as that of his ugly duckling reincarnation.
The behind-the-scenes story of that reincarnation, otherwise known as The Legend of Korra, is rather tragic. Following one of the most beloved shows of all time, it failed to escape the shadow of its predecessor, and languished in development hell as a result. Ironically, though, the series’ ultimate downfall wasn’t due to the fact that it lacked originality, but that it was frankly too original for people’s liking.
Desperate to distance themselves from their previous work and eager to explore new territory, the creators of the series consciously turned Korra into the polar opposite of Aang: while one hated being the chosen one, the other loved it; while one could bend air but not the other elements, the other knew her way with every element except air; while one was always cool and level headed, the other was impulsive and easily agitated. The list goes on.
But the differences between the two shows are not restricted to individual characters. On the macro level, Korra’s story opposes Aang’s, too. Indeed, whereas the latter faced off against a single, Hitler-like, irredeemably evil Fire Lord, the former had to go toe to toe with a variety of enemies, each of whom had valid motivations for their actions.
In the end, the question of which show reigns supreme over the other depends purely on subjective taste. That said, the greatness of Avatar: The Last Airbender ought not to diminish the worth of The Legend of Korra. And to that end, can we not, like the Avatar, aim to create a world in which both legends can coexist in peace?