How do you see relationships between the Gaang progressing throughout adulthood? Bryke obviously did a bad job portraying them in general, and seeing how the other avatar writers felt the same, I imagined so much more for our favorite characters than what Bryke lazily did. Any thoughts on other characters like June?
First of all, there would be NO leaving Zuko completely on his own to govern the Fire Nation. That is just a stupid move politically, militarily,
Jack: Spiritually, ecumenically, dramatically …
You name it. This means that Iroh stays in the Fire Nation with Zuko, so that rather than backsliding by chatting with Ozai, Zuko would gain ground in his mission to redeem himself and the Fire Nation. The first few years would be extremely volatile, and there would be a lot of challenges ahead. He would have to search for his mother and reconcile, somehow, with Azula. But you know who would have been there to help him?
Aang. No, not the Aang who decided “A promise is a promise!” and went into the Avatar State twice to attack Zuko. No, this Aang has complete control of the Avatar State, as he should have by the end of the show, since that was one of the main goals of his character. Aang would have gone to the Fire Nation first, since he spent the least amount of time there out in the open and would have major trust rebuilding to do after what happened with Ozai.
During his time in the Fire Nation, he would have discovered Ty Lee as an untrained airbender. This would give him the impetus to start looking for other airbenders, who might not even know about their gifts. He would have difficulty with a work-life balance, but he would eventually find a way with the help of:
Toph. Toph’s metalbending academy is something I wholeheartedly approve of. I think she should eventually become a businesswoman and use her family’s vast wealth to make Gaoling (and their new ally, Omashu) alternate power centers, so Ba Sing Se wouldn’t have such a stranglehold on the rest of the Earth Kingdom, with metalbenders initially acting as private security, and later, a police force in the city. But while I understand that Toph has the attitude of a beat cop, she hates the city, walls, and rules, and there would be a bunch of all three if she became Chief of Police. (P.S. She would have many more tea times with Uncle, and get that life-changing field trip with Zuko we all wanted to see.)
Toph would also have issues to sort through with her parents, and she would probably never see eye to eye with her family. But one person would help coach her through it:
Katara. At first, Katara would bury herself in her work at the South Pole, helping her father, brother, and Pakku rebuild the Southern Water Tribe. She would be at the heart of social justice issues, especially for Water Tribe women, and would challenge more than one antiquated idea that the Northerners would bring with them. She would get many marriage offers once she turned sixteen, and to take a break from it, she would answer Zuko’s request help find his mother. This leads to her realizing how stifled she feels at home, where everyone expects her to cater to them, in addition to helping lead their tribe. She would apply for a diplomatic post to the Fire Nation and eventually create her own cross-bending school, adapting her school from Toph’s metalbending academy. At first, she would worry about not being at home enough to help the women’s rights movement in the Water Tribe, but someone else has the situation under control:
Suki. Suki would be an asset as the head of the Kyoshi Warriors, and also as a partner for Sokka. Her island’s location and the fact that the villagers wear blue all point to Water Tribe influence on Kyoshi anyway, and once the war is over and trade begins booming again, she would work to make Kyoshi less of a spectator in the world and more of a participant. She would be an excellent role model for Southern Water Tribe girls who don’t want to be pigeonholed into the homemaker ideal, and could also play a part in Republic City eventually. As the leader of an island that was neutral during the war, Suki would be an ideal person to have on the Republic City Council. (P.S. Why it’s a Council of Five when there are no nonbending representatives in LOK is a mystery to me. This would fix that oversight.) But who would lead the Kyoshi Warriors if she took up such a position?
Ty Lee. Ty Lee didn’t get a real explanation for why she joined the Kyoshi Warriors, especially considering her misgivings about spending the rest of her life as a matched set. She could turn the tables on the idea, lending individuality to the Warriors and teaching them chi blocking techniques while learning some of their fighting styles as well. These nonbenders could eventually form the Equalist movement, but a different one than in LOK—a morally ambiguous movement, instead of a villainous cadre led by a demagogue.
In the end, though, Ty Lee is a wanderer, and I’m inclined to believe that she is, in fact, an untrained Air Nomad. Eventually she would discover this, and that not only is she not part of a matched set; she is possibly one of the rarest human beings in the world. This would interfere with her “aura” for sure, because she’s not necessarily cut out for the ascetic Air Nomad lifestyle. So while she would be happy for Aang to train her, she might also butt heads with him about how to best secure the Air Nomad legacy for the future. Of course, since the Air Acolytes in Korra treated Kya and Bumi so abysmally, in my opinion this could only be a good thing. Through it all, she would still keep in touch with:
Mai. I have a
different character path planned for Mai than what other fans might suggest. Mai
becoming a bounty hunter is a popular fanon idea, which makes sense, since she
did seem to enjoy tracking down Zuko and Iroh
so that Azula could imprison
them for life, as anyone would enjoy doing to a person they supposedly had a
cruch on. To me, Mai’s poker face and cool-under-fire attitude screams
“White Lotus”, of which there are no female members that we know at the end
of A:TLA. The main obstacle to inducting her into the Order would be that the
White Lotus is based on principles of interconnection and understanding other
cultures, which Mai categorically does not have. But this is one of the places
she could thus grow the most, without having such character development tied to
a specific person. The fact that she fooled the Fire Princess means she can
play both sides skillfully, which she’ll need to, considering a rival to the
idea of a balanced world is going to be:
Azula. With Ozai imprisoned and without his bending, Azula is the most creditable foe the franchise still has. Patchy though her sanity might be, she is still extremely dangerous (as we saw during the Agni Kai). In an ideal world, she would use her almost preternatural instincts for personal weakness and manipulation to be a ruler, but the very confidence she exudes is based on her rigid mindset and a false sense of Fire Nation superiority. As natural as leadership might be for her, she burned all her bridges when she banished or imprisoned every follower she had. I like the idea of her relearning the meaning of firebending from the dragons and bringing the Sun Warriors into the modern era, but it would be a very painful character path for her when just being mentally stable is a huge hurdle. I think she would need to stay in the Fire Nation for several years, slowly healing with Zuko’s help, before even attempting it.
There is one other path that I would consider for Azula, and that is: the Spirit World. Azula is not a terribly spiritual person, but a spiritual journey such as Iroh underwent might actually help her. It could train her mind to separate illusion and self-deception from reality, and give her a better sense of where she belongs in the world. Not to mention, the Spirit World is dangerous and full of tricksters such as Koh; I think she would enjoy the challenge.
And what about Sokka?
Well, Sokka’s character got shoved to the side in the comics, but honestly, him being on the Republic City council, helping the White Lotus, and likely being chief one day is just fine! Legend of Korra didn’t really do him the disservice that it did the other characters. However, there is one thing that he will never, EVER be, and that is the possible deadbeat dad of Suyin. For my reasons why, please look at this post.
I don’t have ideas for anyone else, really, but we can’t leave out our most important character:
The GAang. In the comics and LOK, the GAang all seem to have gone their separate ways, especially with Zuko being so isolated from everyone except Aang. Katara, too, seems very cut off from current events, which is unacceptable. The GAang remained lifelong friends, regardless of any romantic relationships or lack thereof. Busy and hazardous as their lives might have been, they would always make the time to write, visit, plan projects, and attend reunions together.
(P.S. I don’t know that June needs to develop as a character; she’s one of those tertiary personalities that’s just fine with the amount of screentime she has.)