The Legend of Korra was the first step in LGBTQ+ representation in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe. Will the new movies continue the legacy?
Paramount and Nickelodeon have announced that three new animated movies set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender are in development, and this could be great news for LGBTQ+ representation. The three new Avatar movies will be part of Avatar Studios, a division of Nickelodeon Animation announced in February 2021 that is tasked with creating original content based in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Producing the three movies will be the original creators themselves, Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, who fought for LGBTQ+ representation and established an important milestone in the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters in animated shows.
The three movies in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe are thought to be following Avatar Kiyoshi, Zuko, and Korra (via Avatar News). Though the details have not been confirmed by Avatar Studios, the popularity of these three characters makes them likely to contend to head their own movies. With Avatar Kiyoshi’s popularity from her de ella solo novels and Korra’s series ending on a cliffhanger about the future relationship between her and Asami before being continued in graphic novel form, Avatar Studios are likely to explore their stories de ella, which would mean an expansion of LGBTQ+ stories in the Avatar universe.
The Legend of Korra altered the landscape of LGBTQ+ representation in animated shows by ending with an implied relationship between Korra and Asami, so the announcement of new Avatar: The Last Airbender movies could mean more fleshed-out important LGBTQ+ representation in the new movies. Korra and Asami’s relationship at the end of the finale was a subtle reveal, but in the years since The Legend of Korra ended, shows like Adventure Time and Steven Universe have all featured LGBTQ+ relationships, including kisses and a wedding. More representation helps to normalize diversity for everyone and validates younger audiences on their path to self-discovery.
As they were at the forefront of LGBTQ+ representation with The Legend of Korrait’s likely Konietzko and DiMartino will continue this trend in the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender movies. After Korra and Asami’s romantic ending, Konietzko took to his personal blog to confirm that their relationship is canon and that the creators did not want to regret not taking a stand against a “paradigm that marginalizes non-heterosexual people,” by realizing that they could have “fought harder,” (via Tumblr). in the Avatar universe media content they have created since the finale of The Legend of KorraKonietzko and DiMartino have challenged heteronormative assumptions that characters are straight by default.
the Avatar universe comic books and novels include significant LGBTQ+ representation, but until the finale of The Legend of Korra the shows lacked clear LGBTQ+ representation. Konietzko took the time in the same blog post to apologize that it “took [them] so long to have this kind of representation in one of [their] stories“The comic books and novels definitely have much more overt representation, with Korra and Asami finally having their kiss in the comic”Turf Wars.” Similarly, Avatar Kyoshi and Rangi have a close friendship that develops into romance in the book “Rise of Kyoshi.” The comics and novels contain many LGBTQ+ relationships, so it’s time for the onscreen media in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe to fully catch up.
The Legend of Korra and the comics and novels that followed were rich with LGBTQ+ representation. Konietzko and DiMartino have made it clear that they feel this representation is important and has a place in the Avatar universe. LGBTQ+ characters are still drastically underrepresented in media, but with Konietzko and DiMartino at the producing helm, the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender movies will hopefully fit into the new landscape that they helped create and has been solidified by shows like The Owl House.
Next: Why The Owl House Season 2 Is The Next Step For LGBTQ+ Animation
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