Whenever I look back on the early episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender, I realize that Iroh was probably acting a little ridiculous on purpose. He knows that Zuko still has fresh emotional wounds from his cruel, uncompromising father and sadistic sister, and the one source of softness and warmth in his life, his mother, is long gone. Iroh always tried to be a friend to Zuko, but now that his nephew has been scarred and banished, he tries to be goofy and funny and carefree so desperately hard because all he wants is for Zuko to smile and relax again. If making a fool out of himself is what he has to do, he’d do it a hundred times over.
Robert Moscoe: I have to ask. Anything you can say about Iroh's experiences after Lu Ten's death and before he returned home to the Fire Nation capitol?
Michael Dante DiMartino: He definitely had a 'walkabout', if you will, where he left the battlefield and had some sort of journey throughout the world after Lu Ten's death and before he returned to the Fire Nation.
Bryan Konietzko: We're seeing Iroh in his golden years, when he's been softened by loss which has changed his perspective on what's important to him and what's important in life. As we've shown and had talked about, he was once a serious military giant, a very capable general, and he was very fierce. To me he's such an interesting character because a lot of times people find themselves in situations which they happen to be very good at. He was born into this very powerful, aggressive family and just so happened to have a gift and the strength for it. But not all people are just one way, and he certainly had this gentle, kind side which appreciated life, all forms of life, and he could appreciate all cultures. If you look back on the great swordmasters of Asian history, a lot of them were artists, poets, masters of tea ceremony, actors, and the like. So I think when he lost something really near and dear, he went on a spiritual journey. He was lost and that other part of him was calmed. It's not gone, it's just not the most important thing to him anymore.
Robert Moscoe: So he was a very different man before the death of Lu Ten.
Bryan Konietzko: Yeah. He was never a cruel man. But he was very good at what he did, and it was the role he was supposed to play. He went along with it, very successfully.
“I look forward to winning back Republic City. Together.”
I’ve always loved the idea of Korra joining the United Forces as General Iroh’s Lieutenant, since one of her main duties as the Avatar is maintaining the peace of the United Republic. I think General Iroh and Korra would have become best friends and powerful battle buddies. Korra would do her best to bring peace to the world while General Iroh would use his military rank and political ties as Prince of the Fire Nation to support her as much as he can, and I believe she would have appreciated his help very much since she already does in canon.
This was drawn for the prompt, “Together”, of Irorra Week which starts December 29th of 2013 - January 4th of 2014. The prompts are now out for those who have been waiting.