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Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender Is Introducing Two Major Characters One Season Early, And The Reason Behind It Is Genius

 Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Kiawentiio as Katara, Gordon Cormier as Aang, Ian Ousley as Sokka in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023.
Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Kiawentiio as Katara, Gordon Cormier as Aang, Ian Ousley as Sokka in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023.

For a while now we’ve been aware that Season 1 of Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender would feature two primary characters who aren’t fully introduced until Season 2 of the animated series. Of course, I’m talking about Prince Zuko’s sister Azula and his father Fire Lord Ozai. Played by Elizabeth Yu and Daniel Dae Kim, respectively, in the live-action The Last Airbender cast, we’ve now learned why these characters will come into the story earlier than they did in the Nickelodeon show, and I think it’s pretty genius.

While the disdain and competition between Zuko and Azula is felt throughout all three seasons of the animated Avatar: The Last Airbender, in the Netflix series the origins of their rivalry will become clearer. Elizabeth Yu explained that as she told EW what her princess of the Fire Nation will be up to in Season 1:

A lot of the O.G. series was through the eyes of Zuko. I feel like our show lets [Azula and Ozai] have their own start to their story before all the stuff that we know them to do later on.… We get to see her origin story, which is really cool.

In the animated series, Azula appears in 23 of the 60 episodes, and when it comes to Season 1 she’s only briefly in two of them, and they’re uncredited appearances. At the end of the first book though, it becomes clear that Zuko’s sister will be a formidable foe in the upcoming seasons.

Read More About The Upcoming Live-Action Adaptation

Aang landing and posing with glider in Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Aang landing and posing with glider in Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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When it comes to Fire Lord Ozai, he briefly appears in three episodes in Season 1 – once in a vision where he has no lines, once in a flashback and then fully in the finale. So, we don’t really see him in the present until Season 2. Overall, Mark Hamill voiced Aang’s biggest adversary in 11 episodes, and based on these comments, it sounds like Daniel Dae Kim’s Fire Lord will actively be in a lot more of the show.

As Yu stated, in the Netflix series on the 2024 TV schedule, we’ll get to know more about what drives Azula, and why she has such a rivalry with her brother. In the animated series, we learn about the Fire Nation royal family through the eyes of the banished prince Zuko, which is a big reason why we don’t see much of Azula and Ozai in Season 1. However, with this new series, changes will be made to ATLA, and many of them are seemingly for the better, including this one.

Personally, I think this is genius. Azula’s rivalry is Zuko is passionate, she’s willing to do just about anything to show their father that she’s the sibling most deserving of being the next Fire Lord. That’s all implied and eventually shown in the OG series, however, getting to see the origins of it in this new series will make this sibling rivalry even better. It will also give us more of a chance to see and understand Ozai's relationships with both his children.

We’ve seen hints of Ozai and Azula in the trailer for Avatar: The Last Airbender, and they’re both featured prominently on the poster. So, we know their stories will deeply impact Season 1. Getting this insight into how they will be involved in this first installment makes me oh so excited for this adaptation, and it gives me even more faith in the cast and crew behind this show.

To see how these two royal Fire Nation family members impact Season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender in a way that wasn’t shown in the Nickelodeon series, you’ll be able to stream the live-action adaptation with a Netflix subscription on February 22.