Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Sozin’s Comet History & Live-Action Changes Explained

Summary

  • Netflix’s live-action
    Avatar: The Last Airbender
    makes key changes to Sozin’s Comet, adapting the celestial event in a new way.
  • Sozin’s Comet is a driving force in the backstory of the Hundred-Year War, with Fire Lord Sozin using its power to launch a devastating attack on the Air Nomads.
  • The live-action series remains faithful to elements of the original while tweaking the future importance of Sozin’s Comet.



Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series teases Sozin’s Comet in its premiere episode, but it also makes some massive changes to the plot device. The fantasy drama adapts Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s animated Nickelodeon series of the same name, though Netflix’s ATLA has received backlash for its worst changes to the source material. With fewer episodes to work with, Avatar: The Last Airbenderseason 1 cuts and condenses plot points in order to make the over-arching narrative work. Of course, not all the changes were made in service of the story’s new medium.


Like the animated series, Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender centers on Aang (Gordon Cormier), the titular being who’s meant to bring balance back to the world by ending the Fire Nation’s Hundred-Year War. Aang is joined by Water Tribe siblings Sokka (Ian Ousley) and Katara (Kiawentiio), and he’s pursued pretty relentlessly by the banished Prince Zuko (Dallas Liu). The would-be heir to the Fire Nation throne, Zuko is tasked by his father, Fire Lord Ozai, to capture the Avatar and, in doing so, to restore his honor. Of course, everything links back to the Fire Nation’s initial attack.

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Sozin’s Comet Can Be Seen Every 100 Years In Avatar: The Last Airbender

Sozin using his firebending in Netflix's Avatar The Last Airbender

In the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, the celestial phenomenon known as the Great Comet occurs every 100 years. Taking inspiration from its source material, Netflix’s ATLA opens by teasing the Great Comet’s future importance. Instead of opening in the present, the live-action series transports viewers to 100 years before Aang wakes up in the ice — to the night Monk Gyatso tells him about his Avatar destiny. The coming of the Great Comet is an important spiritual occurrence for the Air Nomads too, prompting all of them to gather at the Southern Air Temple to celebrate.

Fire Lord Sozin planned his attack on the Air Nomads to coincide with the coming of the Great Comet.


After learning about his destiny, Avatar Aang and his pet sky bison, Appa, run away from the Southern Air Temple. Shortly after their departure, Fire Lord Sozin (Hiro Kanagawa) — Zuko and Azula’s (Elizabeth Yu) great-grandfather — seizes upon the opportunity to launch his all-out war against the other nations. With his firebending army, Sozin storms the Southern Air Temple, massacring all the Air Nomads and, for a time, ending the practice of airbending. Ever the strategist, Fire Lord Sozin planned his attack on the Air Nomads to coincide with the coming of the Great Comet.

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Sozin’s Comet Is Named After Fire Lord Sozin

Fire Lord Sozin looking over his shoulder in Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender

Fire Lord Sozin’s devastating attack on the Southern Air Temple marks the extinction of the Air Nomads and the end of airbending — at least until Aang reemerges from the ice a century later. Hoping to take the other nations by surprise, the Fire Nation military also launched attacks on Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe territories on the eve of the Great Comet. As a result of the Fire Lord’s history-altering victories, the Fire Nation renamed the celestial event “Sozin’s Comet” in honor of their leader. Soon after, Sozin’s Comet became the phenomenon’s colloquial name.

Fire Lord Sozin died at 102 years old, with some sources claiming that harnessing the comet’s energy aided his longevity.


How Sozin’s Comet Is Tied To The Firebenders’ Powers In ATLA

Sozin’s Comet grants firebenders untold strength- that is, “the power of a hundred suns”.

When Sozin’s Comet appears in the sky once every century, it just skims the surface of the planet’s upper atmosphere. When the comet tracks so close to the planet, firebenders are able to harness its energy. This allows firebenders to greatly increase their own powers, hence why Sozin waited until the comet appeared to strike; the Fire Lord knew the added strength would make his forces nearly unstoppable. According to ATLA, Sozin’s Comet grants firebenders untold strength — that is, “the power of a hundred suns,” making its appearance a huge event for the Fire Nation.


Why Sozin’s Comet Was So Important In The Original ATLA

In the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of Aang’s past lives, Avatar Roku, warns the young airbender of the comet’s impending return. The looming threat of Sozin’s Comet gives Team Avatar a kind of deadline by which they need to be prepared; Aang has but a year to master the other three elements, defeat Fire Lord Ozai, and restore balance. At the end of summer, Sozin’s Comet will grant Ozai all the power he needs to end the Hundred-Year War, a conflict his grandfather started with the help of the same celestial event.

For firebenders, experiencing Sozin’s Comet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…


Unfortunately, Aang and his allies aren’t able to defeat the Fire Nation in advance of Sozin’s Comet. Instead, Aang is tasked with facing Phoenix King Ozai — a super-powered version of the Fire Lord whose powers are greatly enhanced by the comet’s arrival. For firebenders, experiencing Sozin’s Comet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as seen in the ATLA series finale. While Zuko harnesses the Sozin’s Comet to fend off his sister, firebending masters Jeong Jeong and Iroh use their enhanced abilities to liberate the Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Sae from the Fire Nation.

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How Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender Changes Sozin’s Comet

Katara and Aang from Avatar the last airbender avatar state arrow glowing Gordon Cormier as Aang Kiawentiio Tarbell as Katara

Ahead of the series’ premiere, Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender showrunner Albert Kim revealed that the team made substantial changes to Sozin’s Comet. Instead of cementing the fact that Aang’s story takes place over a year, Kim decided to nix that particular time stamp to account for potential future seasons — and, most importantly, the young actors aging out of their roles. While the series doesn’t use Sozin’s Comet as a deadline for Aang to master all four elements, the celestial event still makes a prominent appearance in the show’s first episode, and is said to occur once every century.

All 8 episodes of

Avatar: The Last Airbender

are streaming on Netflix.


That said, while the removal of Sozin’s Comet as a major plot point will no doubt reshape future seasons, Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender hasn’t completely done away with the key story element. Fire Lord Sozin still seizes upon the Great Comet’s appearance to begin his all-out war against the other bending nations, and the object still seems to enhance his firebending army’s powers, thus giving them a tragic advantage over the Air Nomads. With that said, how Avatar: The Last Airbender plans to use Sozin’s Comet in future seasons remains to be seen.

Avatar the Last Airbender Netflix Poster

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Live-Action)

Based on the acclaimed animated Nickelodeon television series, Avatar: The Last Airbender is an action-adventure fantasy series developed by Albert Kim. The series follows Aang, a young man training to harness the four elements to live up to the title of Avatar – the one who will restore balance to the world.

Cast
Gordon Cormier , Dallas Liu , Kiawentiio , Ian Ousley , Daniel Dae Kim , Paul Sun-Hyung Lee

Release Date
February 22, 2024

Seasons
1

  • Avatar the Last Airbender Netflix Poster

    Avatar: The Last Airbender (Live-Action)

    Release Date:
    2024-02-22

    Cast:
    Gordon Cormier, Dallas Liu, Kiawentiio, Ian Ousley, Daniel Dae Kim, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee

    Genres:
    Action, Adventure, Fantasy

    Seasons:
    1

    Story By:
    Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko

    Writers:
    Albert Kim, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko

    Franchise(s):
    Avatar: The Last Airbender

    Directors:
    Michael Goi, Roseanne Liang, Jabbar Raisani, Jet Wilkinson

    Creator(s):
    Albert Kim

    Where To Watch:
    Netflix