When it comes to worldbuilding, not a lot of shows can beat out the level of detail that Avatar: The Last Airbender achieved. Everything was well thought-out, from the lore to locations, and especially the characters. Iroh, Zuko’s uncle and the brother to Fire Lord Ozai, is a particularly strong example of such a character. There’s so much about him that we both know and don’t know. But with the finite information we got in the original run of Avatar, a sequel from Iroh’s perspective would be an enticing platform to further explore the wise Dragon of the West.
The Possibilities for Iroh
Centering a sequel on Iroh would not only open up new directions to expand on for him, but also for the Avatar universe itself. In particular, his past would be an excellent starting ground. Iroh himself admits that he used to be a “different man,” so what was it that set him on the right path? There are plenty of moments to look toward: his initiation into the Order of the White Lotus, his journey to the Sun Warriors (when he supposedly “slain” the last dragon), or even time spent with his son, Lu Ten. Above all else, Iroh’s time as a general and his siege of Ba Sing Se should definitely be featured. Seeing how his son’s death unraveled and his subsequent trip to the Spirit World to find his son would be a chilling, yet telling story to watch.
One thing that we pick up on in Avatar about Iroh’s past is that he knows a lot about history and different cultures. For instance, he teaches Zuko how to redirect lightning from techniques he learned by studying waterbenders. He also has a strong grasp on the four nations and elements of the world, as well as on the spirits. By expanding on how Iroh picked up all this knowledge, a sequel would be primed to do plenty of world building.
The Uncle and the Prince
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper story about Iroh if Zuko wasn’t involved. If the sequel were to run side-by-side with the original Avatar narrative, there’d be plenty of unseen moments to choose from to bring to life. Just imagine Iroh’s reaction when he finds out his nephew wasn’t actually dead after pirates blew his ship up. Or all that time when Iroh was in prison and had to endure watching Zuko figure out right from wrong for himself (save for when he directs him to Roku’s history). It’s a crucial dynamic that’s just begging for more attention.
If we were to delve into the past history between these two characters, then it would be logical to also look at Iroh’s interactions with his brother, Ozai, which we never see in the show. Understanding the mutual dislike between the two brothers would give more insight into Zuko’s relationship with both his father and uncle. Iroh took Zuko under his wing after the prince was banished, that much we know. But did they spend a lot of time together during Zuko’s childhood? And if so, was this yet another reason for tension in the family?
The Realistic Possibility
If we’re being realistic, the most likely option for seeing this Iroh sequel come to life would be as a comic book. (Though we can dream about a television series, can’t we?) There have already been several Avatar comic books released, even to this day, so the fandom isn’t going away anytime soon. While some of these do feature Iroh, it would be amazing to see him get his own story. Or if not a full comic book, then a collection of short comics featuring Iroh and Zuko similar to The Lost Adventures for Team Avatar would be ideal.
For a side character who’s meant to be on the bad guy’s team, Iroh is everything you could want in a well-rounded, complex character and more. If the creative team behind Avatar: The Last Airbender was to do another in-universe series or even a comic book, they’d be hard-pressed to find a better subject than Iroh, the Dragon of the West.