Both Avatar: The Last Airbender and the sequel series The Legend Of Korra feature some of the most memorable characters in modern fantasy. While one of the best things about following the journeys of characters in any story is seeing how they change, a good first impression cannot be underestimated.
So, looking through both series, fans have enjoyed a lot of really great scenes used to introduce the new characters; the most exciting, the most atmospheric, and the most revealing of those introductions continue to be fondly remembered even long after both series have ended.
In the premiere of Avatar « The Boy on the Iceberg », the title character of the series is introduced when the disputes of Katara and Sokka unearth his ice grave. After Katara breaks the iceberg with her brother’s boomerang, the awakened Aang stumbles and looks at the face of his deliverer as if he has seen an angel.
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So, he says his first words in a hundred years: « Do you want to go penguin sledding with me? » Those seven words are Aang in a nutshell – he may be the chosen one, but he’s also a normal, rambunctious kid.
When Katara frees Aang, the iceberg’s rift sends a beam of light into the sky. From there, the scene transitions to a metal ship and the series’ antagonist makes his debut: Prince Zuko, staring at the horizon in hopes that his journey to capture the Avatar has finally come to an end.
Although Zuko is the character in Avatar who changes the most, this opening scene establishes his essential characteristics: he is determined, short-lived, and has little patience with his uncle’s eccentricities.
After a brief look at Roku’s memorial statue in « The Southern Air Temple », Aang’s predecessor appears directly at the back of the two-part episode « The Winter Solstice. » Appearing before Aang in the Spirit World, the former Avatar warns the current one about Sozin’s Comet and Aang’s tight deadline for mastering the four elements. After the exposure is over, Roku manifests himself in the physical world through Aang and drives out the troops of the Zhao Fire Nation.
The introduction of Roku is a watershed moment for the series; his presence brings seriousness, the information he imparts raises the stakes, and his lineage in the Fire Nation shows that the evil of a nation does not prevent its individual members from being good.
Introducing new characters into an established ensemble is risky, but it has paid off with Toph, who has elevated the show and group dynamics with her presence. When the Gaang attend an Earth control competition in hopes of finding a teacher for Aang, they witness how « The Blind Bandit » speaks ill and then punches his opponent, El Pebble, or as Toph calls him, to preserve your champion title.
The scene is a microcosm of the subversion at the heart of Toph’s character; the archetype of « cheeky bully » that occupies a little girl of 12 years, and also blind.
The Fire Lord’s face is hidden by flames and darkness during the first two Avatar books, building him as a monstrous and inhuman figure. Only at the Book 3 premiere, when Zuko is finally welcomed home and greets the father who marked and banished him, do viewers see Ozai face to face.
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As the Fire Lord rises from his throne of flames, the frame shifts to a close-up of his face. Finally, the form of the enemy is revealed, not a shadow from a childhood nightmare or a fire-born demon, but a normal, even pleasant-looking man. After all, the deadliest wolves are those that cover themselves with sheep’s wool.
In « Avatar Day », Kyoshi, Aang’s past life Avatar, is accused of having killed the founder of a town, Chin the Great, some 400 years ago. By manifesting as Roku did in his day, Kyoshi reveals the truth: he did kill Chin, as he was a hideous tyrant who spread fear in the Earth Kingdom and was trying to conquer Kyoshi’s homeland.
Thus, using the Avatar State and mastery of the four elements, he turned his homeland into an island, letting Chin fall from the newly created cliff into a watery grave. The scene is a display of the power of the Avatar State, and establishes Kyoshi as a tougher and more pragmatic Avatar than Aang.
After Tenzin’s initial narration in The Legend Of Korra pilot reveals that the Avatar cycle has begun again, the episode opens in the Southern Water Tribe. Three members of the White Lotus enter a house, summoned to determine the identity of the new Avatar, and Korra is in turn called by her mother.
From there, Korra walks through a wall and enthusiastically bends the three elements that she already masters. Although it is a comedy, the scene immediately shows us the difference between Korra and Aang. Aang was so desperate for a normal childhood that he ran away to find her. There is no heartache over the weight of her duties for Korra, however; she is the Avatar, and everyone is going to have to deal with it.
The Legend Of Korra’s strongest villain also easily made the best first impression. Korra’s Book 3 revealed at its premiere that the Harmonic Convergence of Book 2 had gifted random people with Air-Bending. Zaheer’s debut, the final scene of said premiere, showed that this was going to cause complications for Korra and her friends.
Imprisoned by the White Lotus, Zaheer offers his captors some philosophical reflections on change (the central theme of Book 3) before using his newfound abilities to free himself and imprison the guards in the cell that once held him. Promising that the end of the Avatar is near, Zaheer leaves, having given viewers a taste of his literacy and lethality, but no doubt wanting more.
2 Koh The Face Thief
Just before Aang ventures into the realms of Koh the Face Thief in search of the information, he witnesses a monkey devoid of his face, giving viewers an idea of the danger Aang is in when he walks a few feet away. . Koh remains in the shadows for a moment, before leaping in front of Aang to show off his massive centipede body. He surrounds the young Avatar, swapping their faces and jumping into Aang’s own face in hopes of stealing it from him.
As Aang prevents his own face from being stolen, Koh promises that they will meet again. Although his parting promise to return seems not to be fulfilled, a creepy realization strikes: Koh was not addressing Aang, but the Avatar himself, as his threat is eternal.
Appeared twice in brief cameos during Book 1, Azula’s performance at the Book 2 premiere is unbeatable. When the captain of his personal ship informs him that the tides will force them to change their course, Azula asks him if the tides rule his ship. He responds negatively. She then asks him if the tides would think twice about crashing him onto the shore if she knocks him overboard. Your answer is the same. Azula’s conclusion? « Then maybe you should worry less about the tides, which have already decided to kill you, and worry more about me, who am still pondering it. »
Unlike her brother or Admiral Zhao, the Princess of the Fire Nation is not going to be hampered by anguish or incompetence. Ruthless, cunning, and determined, it’s obvious that Gaang is in for a lot of trouble when her paths cross with Azula’s.