The Last Airbender change Sokka’s story?

Netflix‘s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is due for release on Thursday (February 22), but how will the new version change the Sokka character?

The series will run for eight episodes and will follow Aang, the last survivor of the airbender tribe as he trains to become the Avatar after he is discovered frozen in a block of ice. Once he’s freed, he has to learn and master all four elements – Air, Water, Earth and Fire – in order to defeat Firelord Ozai and, with the help of Katara and Sokka, liberate the world from his authoritarian rule. 

This adaptation stars Gordon Cormier (Lost In Space, The Stand) in the lead role as Aang, while Kiawentiio (Anne with an E) will play Katara. Sokka will be portrayed by Ian Ousley (13 Reasons WhyYoung Sheldon) and Prince Zuko will be played by Dallas Liu (Marvel’s Shang Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings). 

Last month, Netflix shared a new trailer for the show, which sees Aang get acquainted with young waterbender Katara and her brother Sokka, who he later begins his adventures with. We also get a better look at element bending, action scenes, Prince Zuko, Firelord Ozai and more. 

This is the streamer’s latest live-action take on a hit anime series following the wildly successful and acclaimed One Piece, and the more recent Yu Yu Hakusho. All eight episodes will be available to stream from Thursday. 

How will this live-action version change the Sokka character?

It has been reported that the new version of Avatar: The Last Airbender will dramatically tone down Sokka’s “sexist” characteristics. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender opened up about the changes, including rendering Sokka as a more grounded and realistic figure. 

Ian Ousley, who plays the character, said: “There’s more weight with realism in every way,” adding that he wanted to make sure Sokka remained funny despite the changes. 

Ousely’s co-star Kiawentiio, who plays Katara, explained: “I feel like we also took out the element of how sexist [Sokka] was. I feel like there were a lot of moments in the original show that were iffy.”

“Yeah, totally,” Ousley added in agreement. “There are things that were redirected just because it might play a little differently [in live action].” 

One example of Sokka’s sexist tendencies in the anime would see the character joke that women are better at sewing, while men are better at fighting. Additionally, there are several Reddit threads dedicated to highlighting the character’s instances of sexism

Many fans of the original series have pointed out that Sokka’s character arc involved him learning to overcome his prejudices, complaining that ironing out his initial problematic tendencies may render him a less compelling character. 

Addressing this issue, Ousley told “I think that the essence of the character that Sokka is, is 100% the character that is portrayed in the live-action version of the show. I think the fans are a little worried that there’s going to be changes in who Sokka is, and I don’t really think that’s been the case at all in our show.” 

“I think that we’ve turned those in different directions in the way that… we can’t fit every single arc of every single thing from the animated show. But the essence of him is still there.” 

“He’s an overprotective older brother, and that’s kind of shown in the way that he doesn’t really trust Katara maybe at the beginning, feeling like he’s the in-charge guy of Southern Water Tribe. He definitely still gets humbled in ways and learns that women can be powerful. I’m just excited for people to watch it and get their own take on that particular thing that I know that people are worried about.” 

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