Many people have just gotten around to seeing Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time on Netflix when it was released on July 14. One of the greatest animated shows of all time, this Nickelodeon original is known for it’s amazing Asian-based fantasy worldbuilding, it’s inclusivity and representation, and it’s serious look at hard topics, that is shown in a way to help younger audiences understand topics like war, propaganda, genocide, sexism, xenophobia, and more.
However, if you have just watched it for the first time, or you’ve seen it before, but not it’s spinoff show The Legend of Korra, you’ll be interested to know that the latter releases on Netflix today, August 14. This show follows the Avatar after Aang, set roughly 70 years later. However, a lot has changed in the world of Avatar in those 70 years. To prepare myself, I thought I would take a look at some of what’s happened, so I can focus on the story, which I’ve heard is a fantastic follow-up, and is worthy of being in the same sentence.
I haven’t actually seen any of Legend of Korra yet, so I’m not sure if anything that I’ve found is technically a spoiler. I do know the dates of the two shows, and I’ve only listed things that happen in between those dates below, so hopefully this will just be a way to help you move into the future.
Most of this information is from the various comic books that are set between the series’.
The dates of the world are divided up into two categories, like how in the real world we have Before the Common Era (BC, sometimes referred to as Before Christ), and the Common Era (CE, sometimes referred to as AD, Anno Domini). Before Air Nomad Genocide (BG) and After the Genocide (AG). 0 AG is the year Fire Lord Sozin used the power from Sozin’s Comet to begin the Hundred Year War. Aang emerged from the iceberg during the winter of 99 AG. He defeated Ozai in the eighth month of 100 AG. The Legend of Korra begins in 170 AG. Everything listed below is between those 70 years.
Fun fact: The first noted (human) event is c. 9,850 BG, when humans first begin building cities on top of lion turtles.
What happened to our favorite characters from the first series?
Aang continues to be the Avatar, and helps foster peace after the fall of Fire Lord Ozai. He and Katara do marry, and have three children, Bumi, a nonbender, Kya, a waterbender, and Tenzin, an airbender. Aang eventually dies 153 AG, which means he’s technically only the age of 65, but those 100 years in the iceberg, though he didn’t age physically, did take a toll on his lifespan. It is in the same year that the new Avatar is born, and next in the cycle is a waterbender, who is from the Southern Water Tribe. Katara is still alive when Legend of Korra begins.
Sokka becomes the Chief of Southern Water Tribe. He passes after Aang, but sometime before the story of Legend of Korra begins (thanks rjwriting.ink). Not much is known about his life as an adult, whether or not he marries Suki, but it is implied that he has kids.
Zuko goes on to become the Fire Lord. The first thing he attempted to do was to remove Fire Nation citizens from the Earth Kingdom colonizers, in the “Harmony Restoration Movement.” However, this sparked what was called the Yu Dao Resistance, where citizens from the colony Yu Dao didn’t want to be forced to leave their home. They were so against the idea, an assassination attempt was made on Fire Lord Zuko. He hired Suki and the rest of the Kyoshi Warriors to be his personal guard after this assassination attempt, to protect him from further problems. His anger from this attempt sparked his anger management issues, and he almost restarted the war himself. However, Aang helped him work through it. This, however, only sparked another movement from the New Ozai Society, who wanted to reinstate Ozai as the Fire Lord, in order to bring glory back to the Fire Nation, as Zuko was, in essence, apologizing for their history of violence. Zuko has a daughter, Izumi, and later passes the title of Fire Lord onto her, so he can become an ambassador of peace. He is still alive when Legend of Korra begins, and has a grandchild name Iroh.
Toph founds the “Beifong Metalbending Academy” and travels the world to teach earthbenders how to metalbend. She has two kids, Lin and Suyin. In her later years she becomes the Chief of Police in Republic City (more on that below). She is still alive in Legend of Korra.
Iroh returned to Ba Sing Se, and continued working at the Jasmine Dragon, and playing Pai Sho. Eventually, the day came where he realized he had done all he wanted to in the material world, and ascended to the Spirit World, because if you remember, the only other person that Aang new that ever went to the Spirit World was Iroh, where he realized that all the bending styles were meant to work in tandem. He now runs a new tea shop, in the Spirit World.
As I said before, Suki and the Kyoshi warriors served as Zuko’s personal guard, specifically against the New Ozai Society. As time went on, there became a rise in the idea of Bender Supremacy (more on that below). Ty Lee teaches Suki how to Chi Block, so that they, as non-benders, could protect themselves better.
The Cabbage Merchant founds Cabbage Corp., which later creates automobiles and airships, and is a plot point in Legend of Korra, so I won’t continue.
The Four Nations
What happens to the nations themselves?
As I said, the Fire Nation leads the Harmony Restoration Movement, which has multiple forms of resistance, as people were unprepared for such drastic change. In the end, many Fire Nation Colonies, such as Yu Dao, where the first resistance is sparked, and Cranefish Town, is no longer a part of the Fire Nation. They all instead become the United Republic of Nations (more below).
Not much changes in the Earth Kingdom itself, besides the Fire Nation colonies on Earth Kingdom land become the United Republic of Nations. Otherwise, the only thing of note is the advancement of earthbending, specifically with metalbending, thanks to Toph, and lavabending.
In the Water Tribes, Master Pakku founds a waterbending school in Southern Water Tribe, as a part of the Southern Reconstruction Project that is led by some Northern Water Tribe members. Essentially the Northern Water Tribe realizes that they have abandoned their sister tribe, and do what they can to help.
Lastly with the Air Nomads gone, Aang creates the Air Acolytes, who are not necessarily airbenders, but follow the teachings of the Air Nomads. They live in the Air Temples.
Lastly, as I mentioned above, there is a new, fifth nation in the world. The United Republic of Nations. During the Harmony Restoration Movement, Zuko tried to remove Fire Nation Colonies from Earth Kingdom land, however the citizens of these colonies felt that they should be able to live together, and coexist, as opposed to being separated by nationality. So these colonies, that were half Fire Nation, half Earth Kingdom joined together to create a place for all people to live together in harmony. The capital, Republic City, was originally Cranefish Town, and became a boom in industry when the Earthen Fire Refinery was created, and they were able to mine a large crystal deposit below the city. This also created an economic boom, and the city quickly grew.
Unfortunately, as technology grew, some benders felt obsolete, as technology was able to do certain tasks without the use of benders. This caused a rise in Bender Supremacy, as certain benders believed that they are, genetically, better than non-benders. This leads to a major storyline in the first season of Legend of Korra.
Lastly, and probably the most noticeable, is the difference in technology between the two shows. In Avatar, we see that the Fire Nation has started to perfect steam based technology, and parts of the show get a little Steampunky. Steampunk, in the real world, is based largely on Victorian era technology, and that is about where the technology in the first show reflects. Candlelight, animal transportation, etc. However, in the 70 years that pass, in the real world that brings you to about the 1920s, which was known for a large boom in technology. This show echoes that change.
In Republic City, we see that lightning generation is used as a source of energy for power plants. Throughout the show we see amazing technology:
- Phonographs (sound recording)
- Printing Press
Some fans think this is too much in such a short time, but again this is based on the real world rise in technology in that same amount of time. To further the point, in the Roaring ’20s, there was a rise in popularity around the sport of boxing. In Legend of Korra, a form of competitive martial arts exists, called Pro Bending.
So much has happened in those 70 years, but hopefully this will help you understand more what’s happening, and how the world has changed for this new story. I’m excited to watch it for the first time, and I hope you are too.