By Sarah Brill Science & Technology Editor
Avatar the Last Airbender (ATLA) aired in 2005 on Nickelodeon, and became an instant hit for the children of our generation. The show follows a young boy named Aang (Zachary Eisen) on his journey to master the art of bending all four elements; water, earth, fire, and air. The story not only tackles themes such as bravery, heart, and hope, but it also embodies the female power, and it does so in an elegant way.
Katara (Mae Whitman), for example, has grown up in the Southern Water Tribe with her bordering-on-sexist brother Sokka (Jack De Sena). We view Sokka initially as a sexist mansplainer. But, as the story progresses, we see him grow into a compassionate and caring man not only towards his sister but also for his friends. He develops into the kind of man that respects women and never underestimates their power.
Toph (Michaela Jill Murphy) is an embodiment of a female warrior. She shows power unlike any other male character in the show, and she does it with ease in confidence. When Toph is captured, we see her use bending never seen before, metal bending, to escape from a metal prison. While she may seem closed to criticism, she takes any critiques she is given and applies them, making her the best earth bender in the Avatar universe. When Toph is kidnapped, the capturer states, “You might think you are the greatest earthbender, but you are nothing more than a kid.” Later on, when Toph escapes and imprisons her capturers, she states, “I am the greatest earthbender; and don’t you two dunderheads ever forget it.” She shows physical strength and she proves anyone who doubts her wrong.
Other characters such as Suki (Jennine Kwan) prove that one should be careful not to underestimate a woman. When she captured Sokka on Kyoshi Island, not only did Sokka think that men ambushed him, but he was in disbelief when he learned it was Suki. Suki, like Katara, taught Sokka that women are capable of anything. We see this again when Sokka and Zuko (Dante Basco) are arrested and taken to a fire nation prison, and it is Suki that defeats the Warden (Wayne Duvall) without breaking a sweat; followed by a panting Zuko and Sokka.
If anything, this show depicts female characters in a light previously unseen in film or television, it is quite beautiful how the integration of the femine power is embodied through the women in the Avatar franchise. Recently it was announced on ATLA’s Instagram account that Avatar Studios will soon be established with the hope of releasing new content relating to the universe. I am excited to see what masterpieces they come up with; the future of Avatar is looking bright.