Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender are legion. We (well, not me, but others) cosplay as their favorite characters, write fan-fiction, and even watch the series over and over again. Some of us also love its follow-up series, The Legend of Korra. So you know that we’re all pretty pumped for the live-action show that will be coming to Netflix some time in the future.
But here’s the crazy part. As big as some fans are of ATLA, I’m always shocked to find out how few people have actually read the Dark Horse comics or the two Avatar Kyoshi novels. And while I already talked about the Kyoshi books, I now want to focus on the comics. Because there are a few stories in there that I would love to see in the upcoming TV show. Just a warning in advance, though. Spoilers for the comics and the cartoon up ahead.
Combustion Man and Aang Fight on a Train – Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Lost Adventures
Everybody’s favorite Combustion Man (the dude with the third eye on his forehead) hunts down Aang and Sokka as they board a train. Once he tracks them down, he tries blasting them to smithereens. Aang takes on the baddie himself, while Sokka tries to stop the train. Aang manages to hurl Combustion Man off of the train using waterbending, and everybody's safe. The end.
Combustion Man should definitely be on the new show just like he is on the cartoon. But it would be really cool to see this fight in live-action since it really pops on the page. Combustion Man is blowing up the train and Aang is doing all manner of tricks to stop him. For fans of the original cartoon who haven’t read the comics, this battle would blow your mind, just like Sokka did to Combustion Man with his boomerang. What? Too soon?
The Earth Kingdom Wants the Fire Nation Out – Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise
Following the events of Aang defeating Fire Lord Ozai, there’s a brief period of peace. But it doesn’t last for long, as people from the other nations are already looking for a little revenge. You see, there are Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom, and many of these Fire Nation folks grew up there, so that’s all they know. But many Earth Kingdom citizens want all traces of the Fire Nation out of their Kingdom, so they’re trying to kick them out and send them “back home,” even though the Earth Kingdom is their home. Meanwhile, the new Fire Lord, Zuko, is trying to keep peace. But peace isn’t always possible, especially when tensions are running high.
One of the biggest twists in Avatar is when Zuko turns good. But while the events of The Promise happen after the events of the cartoon, I think a story about people in the Earth Kingdom wanting to get Fire Nation people out of their Kingdom could work, at least on a small scale. And if Zuko is on Team Avatar by that point in the series, then he could have a stake in it, too. It would make for an interesting side story, just like “The Painted Lady,” which is one of the best episodes from the original cartoon.
Zuko Searches For His Mother – Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search
Following the events of The Promise, Zuko finally feels he has the time to search for his long-lost mother, Ursa, who may or may not be dead. While this is happening, we also learn about his sister, Azula’s time in a mental institution. Meanwhile, Aang and the gang do their best to give Zuko peace, since his mother’s absence has been tearing him up inside for as long as they’ve known him.
Zuko’s mother is mentioned on the show, but we don’t really learn all that much about her. The live-action show could rectify that though, and we could learn much more about his mother’s backstory this time around. There was actually a plan from the series creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, to make this into a mini-movie after the original show ended, but Nickelodeon declined the offer. It would be really cool to see that story on the live-action show, though. That said, with recent developments of the creators splitting over creative differences from the Netflix project, it probably wouldn't be the exact story that they wanted to tell. Still, even hints of learning about Zuko's mother on the live-action show would be nice.
The War Between the Water Tribes – Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South
Katara and Sokka go back home only to find that "home" isn’t what they remember it to be. Katara's humble village is now a lively city, and it’s led by her father. But not everybody’s happy, as the Northern and Southern tribes are at odds. You see, the Southern tribe wants to stick to being traditional, while the Northern tribe is pushing for modernity. Interestingly, Sokka and Katara are both at odds as one of them agrees with the North, while the other agrees with the South.
We don’t really get to see much civil unrest on ATLA with the tribes themselves, and it would be interesting to see Sokka and Katara confronting their own lineage. It would definitely create an interesting dynamic for the characters in Team Avatar to wrestle with. And if we’re talking about hypothetical stories for the live-action show, then this is one that could definitely add a lot of depth to their brother/sister relationship.
The Benders vs. the Nonbenders – Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance
The most current comics in the series, Team Avatar heads to the Earthen Fire Industries and learns that there's a silent war set to explode between benders and nonbenders alike. While this is going on, the birth of Republic City from The Legend of Korra is being laid out, and benders are upset that technology is robbing them of their work and their gifts. Toph plays a huge role in this one since her father’s factory keeps getting destroyed by benders, and she sees both sides of things. She understands why benders would be upset with technology replacing them, but she won’t be a luddite and slow down the march of progress. This is my favorite of the comics, by far!
Look, I love The Legend of Korra, but I’ll probably never get a live-action version of that show. So it would be cool if we could see the advancement of technology in the live-action version of ATLA. So if we could see little Easter eggs of TLOK’s Republic City being built, that would be awesome. And bonus points if we actually see nonbenders fighting back against the firebenders who are trying to take over the world. That would be pretty sweet.
In the end, I’d love to see any of the stories from the comics make their way into the live-action show. But what do you think? Do you just want a straight-laced, scene for scene recreation of the cartoon, or do you want to be surprised by new stuff? Let me know in the comments section down below.