We Lost out on an Azula Redemption Storyline Because of The Last Airbender Movie
Former Avatar: The Last Airbender head writer Aaron Ehasz shared a thread on Twitter, as i09’s Beth Elderkin noted, where he shared that one of the writer’s biggest regrets is not continuing the Avatar saga on television. Which, agreed. But Ehasz really wanted the opportunity to spend more time with Azula, Zuko’s badass sister, who suffers a mental breakdown after being a serious villain for the previous two seasons, due to the expectations of her father and perceived lack of love from her mother.
Despite it all, her brother Zuko would be there for her. Believing in her, sticking by her, doing his best to understand and help her hold her pain that she can no longer hold alone. Zuko — patient, forgiving, and unconditionally loving – all strengths he gained from Uncle Iroh.
— aaron ehasz (@aaronehasz) April 1, 2019
Aaron Ehasz says that he always intended for Azula to have a redemption arc and that “despite it all, her brother Zuko would be there for her” because of all the “patient, forgiving, and unconditionally loving” traits he learned from Uncle Iroh.
These plans were disrupted because of the M. Night Shyamalan movie. According to Ehasz, despite the fact that the show has been said to always have been three seasons, they discussed a fourth, and it seemed like that was the plan—until the Shyamalan film came on the table and that became the focus.
They originally planned on 3. We discussed a 4th and seemed like we were going to do it. Then M Night came and they reverted to original plan. That’s what happened!
— aaron ehasz (@aaronehasz) April 2, 2019
Personally, I am heartbroken about this because I am, and have been since Book Two, an Azula fangirl. The evil character that you turn into a more complex creation and fawn over the tragedy of their backstory? For me, that’s Azula (and Callisto and Demona). Since she appeared, I was always impressed by how the show allowed her to be a fully capable villain while having notes of sympathy. Book Three kind of went into the messy “she’s emotionally unstable and therefore needs to be taken down” territory with Azula, which frustrated me, but I get it she’d been raised too high to be brought down easily.
Still, when Azula’s story continued in the comics I was really disappointed. I think the ATLA comic series, while beautiful and daring in what it tries to do, fell short for me in a lot of their major storylines—and that was especially the case with the “Searching for Ursa” storyline. Not only did it do a problematic job of illustrating Azula’s generic “mental illnessTM,” they essentially gave Zuko a new little sister in Kiyi, who is pretty much Azula’s emotional replacement for both Ursa and Zuko. Kiyi even calls Zuko, “ZuZu.” It’s basura.
That being said, I think the show was right to end on the high that was the majority of Book Three. It has some of the best episodes of the series (and some duds) and I think it told Aang’s story in a powerful way. Fanfiction and fanart and the official comics have all allowed the series to continue and expand beyond anything that I’m sure the creators could image. It still is something I return to frequently and I grew to love Korra in its 3rd and 4th seasons.
Hell, I don’t even think Azula “needs” a redemption arc, but I’d be interested to see what her fate could have been if it had continued under the same writing and director as the show. That it was derailed by Shyamalan’s widely loathed Avatar film is a huge shame.
What would you guys have wanted to see in a season 4 of Avatar: The Last Airbender?
(via i09, image: Nick)
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