The Avatar has taken on the worst foes in the physical and spirit worlds for 10,000 years since Avatar Wan long before Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, and many Avatars allied with strong fighters who could help them face the evils of the world. However, not all of the characters in the Avatar's life are up to the challenge. Some would be able to match with the master of all elements, while others would be hopelessly underpowered.
Aang and Korra both had their fair share of villains to face, from the looming threat of Fire Lord Ozai to violent agents of change like Zaheer and Kuvira to spiritual foes like Unalaq and Vaatu. The Avatars did not face these threats alone, though. They were often backed up by master benders and skilled warriors, some of whom could match the Avatar in a fight. Avatar fans got to see nearly every character in action and usually in top form, but even then only a few could ever pose a real danger to the Avatar.
Which of the Avatar's great antagonists could truly measure up to the Avatar, and which of the Avatar's allies could manage to hold their own against the Avatar? It's time to find out with these 10 Legend Of Korra And Last Airbender Characters Powerful Enough To Take On The Avatar (And 10 Way Too Weak).
20 Strong Enough: Katara
Katara may have been a kid when she first joined Aang's mission to master the four elements, but she quickly developed into a master waterbender. Katara was able to hold her own against fearsome antagonists like Azula and Zuko, sometimes even when Aang could not. She not only became a master of the advanced waterbending combat, but also developed her skills in the rare waterbending subsets of healing and bloodbending.
She thinks on her feet in a fight, quickly strategizing how to use water, snow, and ice to her advantage. She picked up bloodbending with little training, and Aang and Korra have been subdued by bloodbending before, if only briefly. The woman who trained Aang in waterbending and took down Azula once and for all could certainly give the Avatar quite a fight.
19 Way Too Weak: Unalaq
Technically, Unalaq was partially responsible for the greatest blow to the Avatar -- severing Korra's connection with Raava -- but he deserves little credit for it. Unalaq did have strength in spiritual skills since he developed spiritbending to calm dark spirits and taught the ability to Korra. However, his waterbending, though unusually advanced in its spiritual applications, was never anything that Korra could not handle.
It was only when he combined with the dark spirit Vaatu that he became truly powerful. Unalaq's understanding of the Spirit World allowed him to bind with Vaatu during the Harmonic Convergence, but that was nearly all he had to do with the fight. He was only a real threat as a vessel for Vaatu.
18 Strong Enough: Kuvira
Kuvira may have come in when Korra was at her lowest point, but that does not make her accomplishments any less impressive. She was able to take over the Earth kingdom and install herself as the military leader and dictator. She outmatched the metalbenders of Zaofu and even Suyin, the matriarch and founder who trained Kuvira. Only Toph herself managed to give her pause.
Kuvira never shrank away from one-on-one duels against the Avatar, and Korra was only able to fight her to a draw. She managed to stay ahead of her opponents with a mastery of earthbending and metalbending, incredible agility, and a great mind for military strategy. Kuvira's ruthless pursuit of power would be like to give any Avatar trouble.
17 Way Too Weak: Long Feng
Long Feng held Ba Sing Se and the Earth Kingdom in the palm of his hand, exerting almost complete control in the shadows as the head of the Dai Li. He was able to run an efficient system of secret police that brainwashed anyone who got in his way, all the while keeping any news of the war from the Earth King.
Despite his political knowledge, he was easily exposed to the Earth King and denounced as a traitor. He managed to mortally wound Jet, but he was defeated in a fight by Appa, which does not bode well for his combat prowess. The Dai Li remained loyal to him, which he leveraged to make a deal with Azula, but Azula easily outwitted him and changed the Dai Li's loyalty. Long Feng was left with nothing.
16 Strong Enough: Azula
Throughout Aang's journey, Azula was always the most immediate threat, and she always proved to be a clear danger. She was a firebending prodigy, able to overpower Zuko during an early confrontation. She easily defeated several strong opponents, such as the Kyoshi Warriors. She nearly ended Aang's life and the Avatar cycle with a well-time lightning strike while Aang was in the Avatar State.
She may have come the closest to ending the Avatar of all the villains who tried because of her merciless tactical mind. In her final fight, it took both Zuko and Katara to subdue her after a long battle, and that was after she had become mentally unhinged enough that Zuko acknowledged that she was not at top form. At her best, she could give any Avatar the fight of their life.
15 Way Too Weak: Jet
Jet was a competent fighter filled with anger, but his aggression was never enough to measure up to a bender, let alone the Avatar. He managed well in a fight with his hook swords, but Katara had no trouble taking him out of the action when she discovered his subterfuge.
He fought Zuko to a draw with swords, an impressive feat since Zuko is a highly trained Fire Nation prince, but Zuko was also unable to use his firebending in the fight. He tried to attack Aang under Long Feng's brainwashing, and Aang was able to avoid the attacks without harming Jet. Long Feng mortally wounded him with a single earthbending move, and Long Feng was the first bender he fought who was not holding back.
14 Strong Enough: Zuko
Prince Zuko had a long journey of discovery and redemption, and he came out of it a master firebender who taught the Avatar almost everything he knew about firebending. He was trained in firebending, swordsmanship, and combat from a young age by the best teachers the Fire Nation had to offer, and he continued his training with the original firebenders, the last dragons.
Even in his youth, he could defeat Aang and Katara if he got the drop on them, and he defeated Admiral Zhao in an Agni Kai. He stood up to Fire Lord Ozai and redirected his lightning attack, and he might have defeated Azula if not for her underhanded attack on Katara. Zuko was always a worthy opponent for Aang, but he would have been a force of nature as he advanced as a firebender.
13 Way Too Weak: Combustion Man
Combustion Man seemed unstoppable throughout most of his appearances in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Katara and Toph had no defense except avoidance when he attacked their campsite with his combustion ability. He put together a nearly effective ambush on Aang, but was foiled by Aang, Katara, and Toph.
In their second fight, Toph's earthbending revealed one of his greatest weaknesses: anything striking his third eye, the source of his combustion ability, would turn the explosion back on him. In his last fight, he held off Zuko while attacking Aang with long-range blasts until Sokka hit his third eye again, causing an explosion that ended his life. While Aang and his friends had several close encounters, his third eye is an obvious weakness that any Avatar could easily exploit. The same tactic was proven effective against P'Li, who had the same ability.
12 Strong Enough: Toph
In a world of many skilled earthbenders, Toph Beifong stands above them all. At the age of 12, she already had an advanced proficiency in earthbending that she learned from the original earthbenders, the badger moles. She relied on her earthbending every day to sense her surroundings, fostering a deep connection with her element.
She was also the first to discover metalbending and taught it to other earthbenders. After that, she quickly picked up sandbending. As long as she and her opponent are connected to the ground, she is almost unstoppable. Even in her old age, she was able to defeat a weakened Korra in a fight and make a large area of earth roll to disable Kuvira and her soldiers. The Avatar has been lucky to have Toph as an ally instead of as an opponent.
11 Way Too Weak: Varrick
Varrick was always a stronger opponent than he seemed at first. He came off as bumbling, ineffectual, and ridiculous, but much of that was veneer hiding a shrewd mind. Varrick wielded his money and influence with the precision of a mastermind. He plotted against Unalaq in the shadows to start a civil war between the Southern and Northern Water Tribes.
When he found out that Mako was investigating him, he ensured that Mako was framed for corruption and robbery. Korra and her allies were able to unravel and expose his plans, sending him to jail, but he didn't stay there for long. Any Avatar would be able to take Varrick down, but it's also likely that he would pop up somewhere else and continue to cause trouble after every defeat.
10 Strong Enough: Amon
Amon was the first real threat that Korra faced, and his ability to remove bending made him a formidable first antagonist. He was a bloodbender of the highest order, which allowed him to subdue and manipulate his opponents without any real effort. While most bloodbenders require the use of the full moon, Amon could use his bloodbending at any time.
He was able to restrain Korra and Mako at the same time, and he restrained and removed the bending of advanced benders like Lin Beifong. Bloodbending had little effect on him, as he quickly broke free of his brother Tarrlok's hold while both Aang and Korra found it difficult to break a bloodbending hold. Amon was also skilled with hand-to-hand combat and knew the value of allying with chi blockers. Amon was a perfect storm to undermine the Avatar.
9 Way Too Weak: Tarrlok
Tarrlok had all of the ambition of Amon, but in the end, he could not measure up to his brother. Tarrlok was a powerful bloodbender in his own right. He subdued Korra, Tenzin, Lin, and several other skilled benders with his bloodbending hold, and later he incapacitated several Equalist opponents the same way. Like Amon, he was able to bloodbend without a full moon, an uncommon skill specific to his family.
Tarrlok also amassed legitimate political power on the Council, and he used to to ruthlessly pursue the Equalists. Despite his talents, he never developed the advanced bloodbending skills that Amon did, which allowed Amon to remove his bending. Tarrlok was also too quick to attack and give away his secrets, leading to his fall from power. He was only a significant obstacle for young, inexperienced Avatar taken by surprise.
8 Strong Enough: King Bumi
King Bumi was the surprise antagonist who not even Aang saw coming. The King of Omashu lulled everyone into a false sense of security, certain that he was a crazy, infirm old man. Bumi would bide his time, not revealing his upper hand until it worked to his advantage. When Aang's challenge prompted Bumi to reveal himself as a highly trained earthbending master, he fought Aang to a technical draw, which was honestly more of a win for Bumi than a draw.
As a prisoner of the Fire Nation, he waited until the eclipse to escape his prison by earthbending with only his face. Later, he was revealed to be a master within the Order of the White Lotus. The powers Bumi displayed were enough to overwhelm an Avatar, and they were likely just the beginning of Bumi's true power.
7 Way Too Weak: June
June was a highly effective bounty hunter, but she had a specific set of skills. With the aid of her shirshu, she could track down any quarry no matter how far away they might be -- except, of course, if they are on the back of a lion turtle. In addition to tracking, she was experienced in hand-to-hand combat, able to overpower multiple opponents larger than her in quick succession.
Her shirshu ended up being a weak point in combat, though, as Katara was able to confuse its sense of smell so it lashed out and temporarily paralyzed June and Zuko. While she is unmatched as a bounty hunter and would have no problem taking an average fighter, she demonstrated no skills that could put her on equal footing with an Avatar.
6 Strong Enough: Ozai
Fire Lord Ozai was Aang's ultimate villain, the antagonist he prepared for three seasons to face. Ozai was considered one of the world's most powerful firebenders, as he was so advanced in the art of firebending that only the Avatar could provide a definite even match for him.
In their final fight, Aang could barely manage to defeat Ozai, only gaining the upper hand when he entered the Avatar State. When Aang locked them in energybending, Ozai's unbreakable spirit nearly overpowered and corrupted Aang. Ozai was also the royalty of the Fire Nation, trained from birth for combat and backed up by a world-conquering army. Only Aang was able to stop him from ripping the world apart. Because of this, Ozai would have been a threat for any Avatar.
5 Way Too Weak: Suki
Suki was the leader of the all-female Kyoshi Warriors. At a young age, she had already advanced through the ranks to lead the training of her fellow warriors. Her combat skills allowed her to best Sokka without any trouble upon their first meeting. She was the most advanced of the Kyoshi Warriors, as she was the last warrior left standing when her warriors took on Azula. She was able to challenge Ty Lee at an equal level, but Azula could overpower her.
After the conclusion of the Hundred Years War, Suki and her warriors were considered accomplished enough to serve as palace guards to ensure Fire Lord Zuko's safety. While Suki is a formidable warrior, she would not be able to hold her own against an advanced bender like Azula and certainly not against the Avatar.
4 Strong Enough: Zaheer
Zaheer was the strongest antagonist Korra faced in her early life as a fully realized Avatar. Even though he gained his airbending late in life and never received any training, he was proficient enough in airbending to give Korra and evenly matched fight. He was the first airbender since the legendary Guru Laghima to unlock the secret to unassisted airbender fight, a feat that Tenzin did not even think was possible.
He was imprisoned for attempting to abduct Korra as a child, and at the time, it took Tenzin, Tonraq, Zuko, and Sokka to stop Zaheer and his allies. He fatally attacked the Earth Queen, using his airbending to take the air from her lungs. Korra was able to defeat him, but only at such a severe toll that she had not recovered three years later.
3 Way Too Weak: Zhao
Admiral Zhao was a lot of talk without the talent to back it up. When Zhao confronted Aang for the first time, Aang was able to use his tendency toward wanton destruction to trick him into firing on his own ships. As a young teenager, Zuko was able to defeat Zhao in an Agni Kai, demonstrating his form and firebending could not measure up to a well-trained 16-year-old.
He was a competent strategist who could mastermind the Siege of the North and gain a promotion to admiral, but military strategy alone was not enough to pose a threat that Aang could not handle. Zhao was fuelled only by anger and ambition, making him a weaker firebender opponent than those who understood restraint and the true nature of firebending.
2 Strong Enough: Iroh
The Avatar is lucky that Iroh was never a true antagonist. Whenever Iroh found himself in a fight, he finished off his opponents with a frightening ease. Everyone acknowledged that aside from the Avatar, Iroh was the only one who stood a chance in a fight against Ozai. He knew rare firebending techniques, such as breathing fire, and he had learned the secrets of firebending from the last dragons.
When he fought against Azula and Zuko to give Aang and Katara time to escape, he was only captured because he peacefully surrendered. He broke out of a heavily guarded prison single-handedly without the use of his firebending. In most conflicts, he used his considerable power so sparingly that it's hard to say how much more he could do, but he could undoubtedly give the Avatar a good fight.
1 Way Too Weak: Mai and Ty Lee
Mai and Ty Lee were chosen as Azula's allies for a reason. They were exceptional fighters with unique skills. Azula would not waste her time on warriors who could not hold their own against the Avatar's team. Ty Lee's chi blocking caused problems for Aang's allies on more than one occasion, and Mai could give Katara a good fight.
However, they became much less effective as Aang's allies learned their tactics. Mai was incredibly accurate and agile with her knives, often incapacitating her opponents with precision, but her strategies became less effective against familiar opponents. Katara, Sokka, and Suki were able to stop Ty Lee's chi blocking technique once they knew her. Ty Lee incapacitated Azula, but only through a surprise attack. On their own, they would have a difficult time besting the Avatar.
Are there any other Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra characters who could easily defeat the Avatar or don't stand a chance? Sound off in the comments!