Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender Star Defends Controversial Sokka Change

By Rachel Ulatowski Published 2 days ago

Sokka actor Ian Ousley addresses the fan backlash over one fundamental change the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender made to his character.

Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender Star Defends Controversial Sokka Change


  • Ian Ousley acknowledges the changes to Sokka's character in the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender , but insists he's still the Sokka fans love.
  • Removing Sokka's sexism is seen as controversial, as it was key to his growth and rethinking views on women.
  • Ousley says Sokka's attitude has shifted from being outwardly sexist to focusing more on his leadership position.


Sokka actor Ian Ousley addresses the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender's controversial decision to erase one of his character's story arcs. The TV series marks the second time the beloved animated show of the same name has been adapted to live-action. Given that the first went down in infamy, many hoped Netflix would give the show the faithful adaptation it deserved. The new Avatar received mixed reviews, especially given how many liberties it takes with the source material. However, the change that drew the most ire even before the premiere was in relation to Sokka.

In an interview with GamesRadar+, Ousley addressed the controversial changes to Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender. He noted that the show did tone down the character's sexism but that some of his "I’m the leader and you’re the follower" attitude remained. Ousley maintained that the changes didn't take away from Sokka's story and that he was still the character "we know and love from the cartoon." Check out his statement below:

The animated show really is the heart and soul of what our live-action show is. We were not trying to take out anything. Obviously we took out that element, but he still has that attitude. Not a sexist attitude, but it’s morphed into more of &- in Sokka and Katara’s relationship &- ‘I’m the leader and you’re the follower’ situation. Stuff like that. He’s still the Sokka we know and love from the cartoon. I don’t even think fans would notice some of those things, honestly, [when] watching our show… He definitely still has his arcs and his lessons in the show,

Why Is Sokka’s Character Change So Controversial?

Sokka's Sexism Had A Purpose


The controversy started in the weeks leading up to the premiere of Avatar: The Last Airbender. During an interview, Ousley revealed that the show was removing Sokka's sexism. According to him, some questionable moments could've translated poorly into live-action. It's not uncommon when adapting anime or manga into live-action for sexist or womanizing behaviors to be removed. For example, the One Piece live-action series tamped down Sanji's womanizing behavior, recognizing that cartoonish depictions of a man's eyes turning into hearts and jaw dropping at the sight of every woman wouldn't translate appropriately.

However, Sokka's sexism in Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1 differs from Sanji's situation. Sanji is an example of the perverted character trope in anime, which only serves the purpose of comic relief. In the original animated series, Sokka expresses sexist attitudes. He's dismissive of female benders and warriors, and thinks it's the "natural order of things" that men are better at hunting and fighting than women. The reason why Sokka's initial beliefs are important is because he actually changes later in the series. After meeting Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors, he gains a new respect for women.

When sexism and womanizing are depicted as a character trait and constantly ignored or excused, it's understandable they would be erased in adaptations. However, in Sokka's case, viewers felt he underwent growth, and his story encourages men to rethink their views of women. While some viewers feel a crucial piece of Sokka is missing, it is worth noting that his sexism was not a key trait and was only seldom expressed. Avatar: The Last Airbender may have missed an opportunity to subtly encourage doing away with sexist views, but Ousley suggests it didn't detract from Sokka's new characterization.

Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1 is now available to stream on Netflix.

Source: GamesRadar+

Cast Gordon Cormier , Dallas Liu , Kiawentiio , Ian Ousley , Daniel Dae Kim , Paul Sun-Hyung Lee Release Date February 22, 2024 Seasons 1 Franchise(s) Avatar: The Last Airbender Writers Albert Kim , michael dante dimartino , bryan konietzko Directors Michael Goi , Roseanne Liang , Jabbar Raisani , Jet Wilkinson Creator(s) Albert Kim Where To Watch Netflix

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