Korra continued the legacy of the Avatar left by Aang, expanding the beloved universe started by Avatar: The Last Airbender. As the Avatar, Korra was almost nothing like Aang. The aggressive, confident Avatar could not have been more different from the reluctant pacifist that Aang was for most of his journey.
Korra gets a lot of criticism from fans for being different from Aang, but her differences also allowed her to accomplish feats that Aang could not. Her natural waterbending background, her drive and passion to become the Avatar, her aggression and physical strength, and her unique challenges as the Avatar gave her a number of abilities that Aang never displayed.
Korra was able to take to subsets of bending and advanced levels of bending that Aang struggled with even when he was close to his fully realized state. Although Aang seems the more spiritual Avatar, Korra was forced to become proficient in a number of spirit-related abilities when her duty as the Avatar required it of her. Her early acceptance of her role as the Avatar and her intense training up to the time she came to Republic City also put her ahead of Aang in many ways.
With that said, here are the 20 Things Korra Can Do (That Aang Can't).
Korra is the first Avatar known to metalbend. While Toph invented the subset of earthbending, Aang always had trouble with it, even expressing during one adventure that he wished he was able to do it. Earth is diametrically opposed to Aang's natural ability in air, so he struggled with any ability that related to earthbending. Even in the flashbacks to his later years, Aang is never shown metalbending, indicating he was not proficient even as a fully realized adult Avatar. Korra had no such problems, having already mastered earth before she started learning metalbending.
Korra was able to hold her own against the advanced metalbender Kuvira in the fourth season, and she displayed an ability to effortlessly blend metalbending into her attacks and defense.
19 Heal with Waterbending
As Korra was born a waterbender, she had an easier time mastering the finer skills of waterbending, including using healing abilities. She studied under Katara, who had always been a highly skilled healer, and showed at least some proficiency in healing. Aang never really used healing, perhaps because waterbending did not come as naturally for him as it did for Korra. When someone in the group needed healing, he relied on Katara's abilities rather than learning and practicing healing himself.
Korra, however, used healing several times during the run of the show, effortlessly healing her teammates' minor injuries. She likely learned healing early under Katara's tutelage, which made it second-nature for her in a way it never was for Aang.
18 Connect with Raava
As far as we know, Korra is the only Avatar since Avatar Wan who was aware of her connection with Raava. Following her discovery of Raava and the cataclysmic events of season two, Korra's connection with the ancient spirit colored her understanding of the role of the Avatar. Aang had been raised with a deep understanding of the Spirit World, but even he was unaware of the Avatar's origin in the struggle between Raava and Vaatu. After she became aware of Raava, Korra developed a more intimate understanding of the Spirit World than Aang displayed.
Once Korra developed this understanding, her connection with Raava influenced most her choices in the later season, including her decision to leave the Spirit World open to the physical world.
17 Advanced Hand-to-Hand Combat
Korra was never one to back down from a fight. She is active, agile, and very strong. Even without her bending, she was a fearsome fighter, able to take down opponents with an efficient attack or a single blow. She was able to attack and defeat Amon's strongest fighters and chi-blockers, often without resorting to her bending at all.
In contrast, Aang was never much for fighting and definitely not one for hand-to-hand combat. His fighting style was passive, never attacking when he could simply avoid. When he had to fight, he almost always relied on his bending. Korra's raw physical strength, her dexterity and agile reflexes, and her quick thinking make her a daunting opponent in a fight, Avatar or no Avatar.
16 Bend in the Spirit World
Korra's awareness of her connection of Raava give her several beneficial powers. Raava taught her more about how the Spirit World works than Aang ever knew. On one occasion, Raava taught Korra about the Avatar's connection to the Spirit World that allows her to retain her bending in the Spirit World. Since she is connected to all spiritual energy, she is able to bend with or without her physical body.
Aang was unaware of this ability and made do without his bending on all his Spirit World adventures, even though bending would have helped him on several occasions. Korra wielded this ability a few times, freeing trapped souls from the Spirit World and redirecting spirit energy when it entered the physical world.
15 Resist Bloodbending without the Avatar State
Bloodbending is perhaps the most horrifying art practiced in the Avatar universe, allowing a highly skilled waterbender to control the blood in a person's body. Once a waterbender puts a bloodbending hold on their victim, it is extremely hard to break, a feat only accomplished by a handful of people.
When Yakone attacked an adult Aang with bloodbending, it rendered him unconscious. Aang was only able to defeat him with the use of the Avatar State. However, when Korra was imprisoned in Amon's expert bloodbending hold, she was able to break the hold without the Avatar State. It's unclear why Korra had an easier time counteracting bloodbending, but her waterbending background likely gave her more control over this dangerous subset of bending.
The sport of Pro-Bending did not exist until Korra's day, but she proved exceptionally adept at playing it. With minimal training, she picked up the Pro-Bending waterbending style and became a valuable member of her team. Her natural aggression served her well in the arena, as she was able to channel it into her performance.
Although it's possible Aang would have been good at Pro-Bending if it had existed in his time, it's unlikely he would have proved as useful a player as Korra given his mostly passive fighting style. Korra was able to use passive airbending to tire out her opponents, but she also employed more aggressive and versatile tactics to attack the other teams.
13 Propel Herself with Firebending
Korra never had the benefit of a natural affinity for air, but she made up for it with her firebending abilities. She is one of only a few people in either series who can propel herself with firebending, as Aang was never known to employ the tactic, defaulting to using his airbender glider instead of elemental flight in most situations.
Korra uses this firebending skill frequently, likely because she is more comfortable with firebending than Aang was. In the past, propulsion using firebending was only done by advanced firebenders, such as Iroh, Azula, Jeong Jeong, and Ozai. Even Zuko never used his firebending for flight in this way. Her firebending flight skills show an advanced mastery of firebending.
12 Collect Water from Air
The Legend of Korra games added to the abilities that Korra displayed, with one of the most important being her ability to collect water from air. Her advanced waterbending makes sense, as she is a natural waterbender trained under master waterbender Katara, but this ability is rare in the series. The only other character to show it was the bloodbender Hama, who could collect and manipulate water from the world around her.
Since Katara learned bloodbending from Hama, she could have picked up the ability to collect water from air in the same way and may have passed the knowledge on to Korra. As this is rare and advanced waterbending, it's unlikely Aang ever learned how to do it.
When Korra faced dark spirits attacking in the physical world, she quickly picked up the art of spiritbending from Unalaq, who had developed the unique subset of waterbending. Spiritbending is a form of healing where a waterbender can turn a dark spirit's negative energy into positive energy. As an advanced waterbender and an adept healer, Korra took to spiritbending in no time and frequently used the tactic to calm spirits throughout the rest of the series.
Aang did once calm an angered spirit, Hei Bai, but only by reasoning with it, which likely would have had no effect on the dark spirits Korra fought. Korra's natural waterbending skill and deep connection to Raava and the Spirit World helped her face an uncommonly difficult foe with healing and understanding.
10 Early Mastery of Water, Fire, and Earth
Korra always wanted to be the Avatar, and she embraced her role from childhood. Her ability in water, earth, and fire manifested at a young age, and she spent her entire youth training to be the Avatar. By the time she left for Republic City at seventeen years old, she had completed her training in waterbending, earthbending, and firebending, leaving only her airbending training ahead of her.
By contrast, when Aang faced Ozai at the age of fourteen, all of his teachers admitted he was far from proficient with any element except for air. Even as an adult Avatar, he tended to rely mainly on airbending. Korra regularly uses a combination of all four elements while fighting, indicating she is far more comfortable with her proficiency.
9 Connect with Avatar Wan
In Korra's time of upheaval in the Spirit World, she had to discover the origins of the Avatar. While she was recovering from a dark spirit's attack on her, she connected with her past lives deeply enough to find the first Avatar, Wan, who explained the origins of the Avatar's power and role in the world.
Aang often connected with past Avatars, especially Roku, but he never went further back than Yangchen, the previous airbender Avatar. It's unlikely Aang knew of Avatar Wan, as Korra had to hear the story of the Harmonic Convergence from the first Avatar himself. Korra's connection to Wan allowed her to connect with Raava and understand her place as the Avatar in a deeper sense.
8 Astral Projection
Aang learned about energybending from the lion turtle and passed that knowledge to Korra, but only Korra harnessed that energy to create an astral projection of herself. During the Harmonic Convergence, she tapped into the spirit energy of the Tree of Time, giving her greater energybending abilities than usual.
Unlike spirit projection, Korra's astral projection could fight for her, as it retained the abilities of her physical body. Korra also managed to do this after her connection to Raava was severed, whereas previous energybending has only been possible for connected Avatars. This was a previously unknown form of energybending, as Aang was only shown removing and restoring bending, and this ability made it possible for Korra to restore her connection to Raava.
7 Remove Poison from Her Body
Korra advanced in metalbending at an incredible rate after studying under Suyin to the point where she could use it to remove the mercury poison from her own body. After the Red Lotus poisoned her to induce the Avatar State, Korra lived with horrible physical and metal after-effects of the poison. Korra thought Suyin had removed the poison completely, but Toph informed her that some poison remained.
With Toph's guidance, she was able to use metalbending to eradicate the poison, allowing her to heal more completely from her trauma at the hands of the Red Lotus. Since Korra was able to remove poison that Suyin, a highly advanced metalbender, could not remove, Korra proved herself one of the most skilled benders of a bending subset that Aang could not pick up at all.
6 Advanced Firebending
Since Korra completed her training in firebending by seventeen, she had mastered advanced firebending techniques. Firebending should have been a difficult element for her, as it is the opposite of her natural water, but she uses it almost as regularly as she uses waterbending. Aang's known skill at firebending was fairly basic, though it likely did advance after further training, but he still did not use it commonly in known confrontations.
Korra is experienced enough with firebending to show expert control. She can create daggers of fire or small, contained flames for cutting through metal. She consistently proved herself equally competent as her group's firebender, Mako. Tenzin attributed Korra's unusual skill to her aggression and intensity, qualities that translate well into firebending.
5 Face Vaatu
Korra's time as the Avatar coincided with the Harmonic Convergence, when the spirit portals opened into the physical world and Raava must fight Vaatu. Korra had a long and arduous preparation for her role in the Harmonic Convergence, as she was the first Avatar since Wan that had to face Vaatu. She learned Wan's story, discovered her connection with Raava, and gained rare knowledge of the Spirit World, all leading up to the climactic confrontation.
Korra was uniquely prepared for the Harmonic Convergence. Her understanding allowed her to navigate the previously unknown and nebulous rules of spiritual confrontation, and she was able to defeat Vaatu because of that same understanding of the Spirit World and the Avatar's place within it.
4 Acts of Extreme Physical Strength
Korra's incredible physical strength is formidable no matter what situation she is in. Her effortless ability to apply her strength often gets glossed over, but she is easily one of the strongest characters in the Avatar universe. She can lift grown adults with one arm, dent metal, and perform many other acts of extreme physical strength. Her strength is an excellent asset in a fight and even better when her bending is restricted or unavailable.
In physical strength, Aang is not even close to her equal, as even adult Aang never showed the effortless strength that Korra does on a regular basis. The creators actually based her design on female MMA fighters, which explains why she has the toned, muscular physique that is the envy of many real-life women.
3 Reunite the Spirit and Physical Worlds
After the Harmonic Convergence, Korra decided to leave the spirit portals open, reuniting the spirit and physical worlds. The Avatar was meant to be the bridge between worlds, and Korra ended the role of the Avatar as the only true medium to the Spirit World. Her decision was bold. It affected the entire world, allowing spirits to move into the physical realm and average people to enter the Spirit World.
As far as Korra knew directly, her only job was to defeat Vaatu and separate the two worlds again, the same as it had been for 10,000 years. Only her newfound understanding of the Spirit World and her fearlessness in the face of change led her to shake up the millenia-long order and create a new world.
2 Revive the Airbenders
As Tenzin said, there would be no Air Nation without Korra. Korra's decision to reunite the Spirit World with the physical world had the unintentional effect of reviving the Airbenders. Aang had thought his people were lost after the Fire Nation wiped them out, with Tenzin and his descendants being the last of the Air Nomads.
The unique challenges Korra overcame during the Harmonic Convergence and her reaction to them brought about an event the world thought would never happen. When Korra left the spirit portals opened, a spiritual balance was restored that created new Airbenders. Through her willingness to create change, Korra resolved Aang's greatest regret - the disappearance of the Airbenders - and brought Airbenders from every nation into the Air Nomads.
1 Restart the Avatar Cycle
Korra's connection to Raava severing, costing her the connection to her past lives, is undoubtedly the most heart-wrenching moment of the entire series. She could no longer look back on Aang, Wan, or any of the previous Avatars for guidance.
In the end, however, she did not need them. Korra knew enough of Raava to pull her from Vaatu and reconnect with her. She restarted the Avatar cycle that had begun with the last Harmonic Convergence, a natural closure to the 10,000 year cycle and the beginning of another. Korra had usually done things her own way, but the beginning of a new Avatar cycle allowed her to strike out in a bold new direction and create a world very different from the one her past lives knew.
Are there any other things that Korra can do that Aang can't? Let us know in the comments!