Azula Always Deserved the Same Grace Zuko Got in Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Azula Always Deserved the Same Grace Zuko Got in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action reignited the fandom and brought interesting characters like Fire Lord Ozai’s children, Prince Zuko, and Princess Azula back to the small screen. While these two characters were born on the enemy’s side, Prince Zuko ended up in the good guy’s team after redeeming himself and reclaiming his honor. This begs the question, why wasn’t Azula given the same grace?

Zuko’s redemption arc works in Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series because his character goes through several challenges in his journey from bad to good and earns forgiveness for all his wrongdoings. It’s exciting and a relief when he finally joins the good side. Unfortunately, Princess Azula wasn’t allowed to be good and was set out to be the show’s villain from the beginning.

Zuko’s Character Arc in Avatar the Last Airbender

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Redemption is a powerful tool that writers use to change viewers’ perceptions of a character. In Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series, the writers successfully turned Prince Zuko from the son of the enemy to the reluctant best friend of the savior of the four nations. In Season 1, Zuko is banished by his father, and the only way for him to return home and take his rightful place on the Fire Nation throne is to capture Avatar, who hasn’t been seen for 100 years. With such a demanding responsibility on his shoulders and a strict and abusive upbringing with his father, Zuko was bound to grow up angry at the world.

In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko follows Aang worldwide, trying to capture him, but fails at each turn. He becomes a fugitive and traitor running from Princess Azula. On the run, viewers see a better side of him and how Uncle Iroh’s influence on him during their time together affected his choices. Zuko betrays his Uncle and sides with Azula to capture the Avatar, but this moment of false victory and adoration from his sister and father doesn’t satisfy him as he thought it would. With Uncle Iroh arrested, Zuko grapples with his decision and the idea of honor, which helps him realize that he should help Aang in his mission to stop Fire Lord Ozai’s deadly plan.

By the final season, Zuko is one of the good guys, even having a close relationship with Katara and teaching Aang more about fire bending. Fans end up rooting for him, and he earns a place in the gang. His character starts as a bad guy, but by Season 3, his character has learned hard lessons and paid for his wrongdoings. Katara and the gang even forgive him for all the things he put them through.

In the live-action’s first season, it’s clear that Prince Zuko has had it rough being raised by his father, but the writers show early on how caring he is of his people by saving the men of the 41st Division who end up on his crew. The time he spends with Aang shows that he has a heart and is only hurting others because he was hurt very badly as a child. The live-action writers are setting up Zuko’s redemption arc, and it’s clear to see.Unfortunately, while the animated series portrayed him as a character who deserved redemption, the same can’t be said  for her sister, Princess Azula.

Princess Azula’s Story Arc in Avatar the Last Airbender

Azula Always Deserved the Same Grace Zuko Got in Avatar: The Last Airbender 

Princess Azula has always been set up as the villain in Avatar: The Last Airbender so a redemption has never been part of her story. In the live-action series, she is introduced as the feisty and powerful sister of Prince Zuko. She has trained with the best under the supervision of Fire Lord Ozai, who seems to favor her over her brother, and now that she’s done with games, she has succeeded in conquering Omashu. From the beginning, Azula wants Zuko dead because she wants the throne. Obviously, she also wants her father’s approval; that’s why she goes to great lengths to prove to him that she is worthy of being his successor.

But while she is portrayed as the villain who will be trouble for Avatar and his gang in the live-action Season 2, she has also gone through a lot of abuse in their family dynamic that made her turn out this way. In the animated series, Princess Azula is a perfectionist obsessed with pleasing her father because she never got her mother’s love like Zuko did. Her mother would often scold her for things she did, so she has always been jealous of her brother, which led to their troubled dynamic with their father after their mother died. Having Fire Lord Ozai as her only parent made her think she needed to prove herself to receive love from the people she craved.

Her father also shapes her view of the world. She is a perfectionist and, with her power and strength as a firebender, has been taught not to show any signs of weakness. Which Fire Lord Ozai hints at in the live-action after teaching Prince Zuko a lesson he will never forget. She doesn’t want to be seen as weak if she is to become a Fire Lord one day, so it’s engraved in her mind that to fail is weakness, and the last thing she wants to do is disappoint her father.

Princess Azula Deserved the Same Grace as Prince Zuko

Azula Always Deserved the Same Grace Zuko Got in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Azula meets a tragic end in the animated Avatar the Last Airbender series, which, while fitting for her cruel and heartless character, is mostly sad. Why didn’t she get the same grace as Prince Zuko if they were products of the same messed-up household? All she ever wanted was love from the people she cared about, even though she was willing to use fear to make them loyal to her. While these methods weren’t the best to convey her feelings, her descent into madness was sad for viewers to see because she is as insecure as any other girl seeking her father’s approval.

With her fragile mental state, she should have been treated better, and with the final betrayal from her father, she is lost forever. After the coronation, there are hints that Azula could regret her past actions because she realizes she was cruel even to her friends. This could have been the best opportunity to give her a redemption arc because, just like Zuko, she still feels empty inside after getting what she always wanted. All she ever wanted was love and acceptance from the people closest to her and the fire nation, but she never got it, which drove her to madness. If Azula had someone by her side who showed her unconditional love like Uncle Iroh did to Zuko, she could have turned out differently. Here is a review of Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender live action.

Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action on Netflix

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