Azula’s arc remained unfinished in Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, a certain character in Legend of Korra may hold a clue as to his eventual fate.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is celebrated for its nuanced writing and intricate characters, with much praise for the skillful execution of Zuko’s Redemption Arc series. Her sister Azula has captured the imaginations of fans to an equal degree, and she is often praised for being a truly terrifying yet compelling villain. The show ends with Azula completely defeated by Katara and Zuko and in the throes of total mental collapse. While it’s clear his glory days are over, his ultimate fate remains undecided.
The sequel comics released by Dark Horse expand on Azula’s arc, introducing a new storyline in which Zuko sets her free so they can search for their mother Ursa. As she cooperates with the team for a while, Azula quickly reverts to her naughty ways, engaging in various ploys to regain power. These ultimately end in failure, but she manages to disappear and escape justice, again leaving her next moves open.
However, a theory has been circulating for some time that may contain the answer to the long-considered question of Azula’s possible future path, as detailed in this video from Screen Rant. A Certain Firebender Appears at Key Point in the Sequel Series The legend of Korra, and some have wondered if this character could in fact be Azula after many years of growth and change.
The legend of Korra is fixed decades later Avatar: The Last Airbender and features appearances from older versions of some of the original cast. These returning characters include Aang, Toph, Zuko, and Katara, but the older version of Azula is never explicitly displayed. However, the unnamed firebending shaman who heals Korra in book two looks more than fleetingly like the former Fire Nation princess. She seems to be about the same age as the other Avatar characters who reappear in Legend of Korra, and she even sports a hairstyle remarkably similar to Azula’s. Thus, some have speculated that this person is an older and wiser Azula who has had time to develop spiritually and learn to use her gifts for others.
This shaman is very gifted with firebending and specializes in a kind of healing art similar to Reiki, allowing her to read the energy of her patients and exorcise dark spirits. These techniques are highly specialized and demonstrate a deep spiritual understanding of flexion. Considering that Azula was a supernatural firebending master who mastered the art from a young age, it is no exaggeration to imagine her acquiring this level of expertise and pushing the limits of firebending in this way. It’s certainly interesting that such a powerful, important, and unique character never even says her name to Korra. Could it be that Azula was ashamed of her past, abandoning her old identity and hiding her dark reputation?
The question of Azula’s future and whether she could ever find peace or redemption has been a frequent topic of discussion in fandom in the years since the original series ended. Series writer Aaron Ehasz once tweeted that he always wanted to write a redemption arc for her, though the fact that he posted it on April Fool’s Day means it may be. – just be a joke.
Yet many find the idea compelling. Like Zuko, Azula is a tragic character with issues related to childhood trauma and abusive parenting. Her deep belief that her mother disliked her, combined with her father’s narcissism and unyielding expectations of perfection, gave Azula mental complexes and warped her development. Although her actions are heinous, it’s hard not to feel empathy for her mental and emotional suffering. Moreover, the extreme nature of his wickedness would make a potential redemption all the more satisfying.
There are holes in this theory, of course. One obvious catch is that Azula’s eyes are brown, while the shaman character’s eyes are gray, although this could be explained by the effects of aging or even just artistic inconsistencies. More damning is the shaman’s claim that she has been raising celestial bison “since the Hundred Years’ War” which would conflict with the canonical events shown in the comics. It’s unlikely the creators intended this character to be literally Azula, but it’s a nice idea, especially for fans who yearned for a more meaningful closure for this singularly magnetic and unforgettable character.
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