Let’s compare the movie Agni Kai with the animated version.
The animated version is much more in detail, showing Zuko’s age, how terrified he is and how he is kowtowing and crying for mercy in front of an audience of hundreds of people and the menacing figure of his father.Then we see a grinning Zhao, a smirking Azula and Uncle closing his eyes.
The movie version barely spends any time on the Agni Kai at all. All we see are three scenes: A clothed Zuko standing there looking confused, Ozai and his guard walking towards him and then a direct shot to Azula’s and Uncle’s reaction.
No crying, no kowtowing, no menacing faceless Fire Lord and Azula looks like she’s not getting it and looks like there’s going to be free ice cream.
The question I asked myself here is: Why the changes? Why be less menacing than a cartoon? What is the purpose in keeping what Ozai did vague and non threatening?
It makes more sense if you look at it from a Fire Nation/Ozai fanboy apologist perspective. Take a look at the movie. The Fire Nation is portrayed as technologically advanced and civilized and not just that, Shyamalan has more than once superimposed it with India (see casting). He most certainly did not do that because he thinks they are the villains, quite the contrary, he seems to fanboy them a lot.
Which explains why he took pains to make them seem less evil, especially Ozai and Ozai actions in the Agni Kai. Notice how much less severe Zuko’s scar is? And by less severe I mean barely noticeable.
While I think that most adaptations would be better if the director/writer did know and love the material, Shyamalan went too far and retold the story how he thought it should have been i.e. with an Indian Fire Nation and Ozai as the misunderstood villain who’s not so bad after all. That no one but him wanted to see that, who cares…
Argh, argh, argh! I am an Ozai fangirl, so I say this with authority: if you don’t accept the man as a fucking psychopath who was willing to kill his son on his father’s orders, who horribly scarred his son for disagreeing with him, and who thought blasting the Earth Kingdom to ashes was a great idea, then DON’T FUCKING WRITE HIM!
When you’re a fan of a villain, don’t try to nice them up. In fact, watch yourself carefully with how you treat them. You are their fan, so you will be trying to make them sympathetic. But there’s a thin line between sympathetic monster and misunderstood antagonist. Do your damnedest not to cross that line.
Reblogged for commentary!
I like villains the way they are— monstrous. Flawed. Not good people. It’s their appeal. To me at least. Why change it? It just… nonsensical. *cuddles with Zhao plush toy*