Avatar Series Builds Characters (Cool Girl Ones Too)

If you’ve never seen the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, you might be missing out.  It’s honestly an amazing show for kids (and adults).  Forget the movie, it was a bust, but the animated series is truly awesome.  One of the things I like most about it, is the eclectic mix of female character personalities.  The girls in the show don’t only play love interests, or side-kicks, they play main good-guys, they play evil characters, they play warriors, they play heros and there’s lots of them; recognized for their uniqueness, and character rather than just being a token female.

It honestly baffles me that in so many action movies – like the Marvel superhero films- there is literally one female character whose only characteristics seem to  be looking beautiful and exuding sexuality.  Low on personality, she could literally be substituted for anyone young and beautiful.  It’s so incredibly boring.  Or, there may be a tough girl who kicks some ass…but she is always sexy.  Always.  In the new Avengers movie, for example, it looks like Scarlet Johansson is going to kick butt, but she is also wearing either tight black leather, or cleavage-revealing attire, and the ultimate unoriginal symbol of seduction: dark red lipstick.  I want more than these two options (victim-sidekick or tough-seductress) for female characters.  I want more for myself and more for my daughter when she gets older, and I think something that offers that is a sign of true uniqueness and creativity, which in my opinion, is what true art and storytelling is all about.  Avatar: TLA offers it with female characters presented as unquestionably equal to the male characters.  They have dreams, and they have ambitions.  Some are good, some are evil.  There is no division between male and female heros, fighters, and warriors.  All characters have strengths, weaknesses and distinct personalitites that are not defined by their gender.  This is the way it should be.

The Legend of Korra, is a new series, written by the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it takes place in the same universe.  It’s set to air on April 14th, but the first two episodes have been released online and can be downloaded free on iTunes.   I’ve watched them, and so far the trend of awesomeness continues.  Korra is the main character, and already her distinct personality is very apparent.  She is completely opposite of Aang the male main character of the first series.  She is tough, aggressive, abrasive, sometimes obnoxious, and acts on instinct without thinking things through.  Aang was very thoughtful, peaceful, non-confrontational, and friendly.  If we got caught up in engendering these characteristics, Korra’s would be male and Aang’s female.  She’s also, big, strong and muscular, and probably wouldn’t be considered beautiful.  In fact, according to one posting on Bad Reputation, many of the comments about the first picture of her released online were about how much she looked like a guy.   I’m not saying we have to go completely opposite and not let female characters have any typically ‘female’ qualities, I’m just saying we can be a little more inclusive, and creative in the creation of characters, so that viewers can really identify with them, and love them like we love people in real life:  for who they are, which is not a race, colour or gender – it’s something distinct and unique that makes them them.  Though she is clearly flawed and has a lot to learn (hey, we need room for character development), I think I’m really going to like Korra.

What do you think of the Avatar Series? Have you seen Korra yet?

Ozai’s Angels image source: Avatar Wiki

The Legend of Korra image source: Nickelodeon.

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