- This article is about the character in The Last Airbender. For other similar uses, see Aang (disambiguation).
|"There's a ceremony when everyone bows to me. That's when I accept my role as the Avatar. But when everyone bowed ... I didn't bow back."|
|— Aang in The Last Airbender.|
In his childhood, Aang lived at the Southern Air Temple, regarding Monk Gyatso as his father figure. Due to the signs of a possible war, Aang was told about his status as the Avatar at age thirteen, three years earlier than usual. This caused a schism between himself and the other Air Nomads of his age, and shortly after running away from his nation due to his reluctance to be the Avatar, Aang and his flying bison, Appa, were caught in a storm, crashing into the water and being swallowed by the waves. Aang saved himself and Appa while semi-conscious by entering the Avatar State, freezing the two in a sphere of ice by using a combination of airbending and waterbending.
After being discovered and freed by two teenage siblings from the Southern Water Tribe—Katara, a waterbender, and her brother, Sokka—Aang was taken back to their village in order to recover. Ignorant of the century that had passed, Aang thanked Katara but told her that he should get back home, as the others were probably worried about him. Before he could leave the village Prince Zuko's ship smashed through the icy landscape, having been alerted to the presence of the Avatar by a beam of light that had erupted as he was freed from the iceberg.
Zuko entered the village with his men and told the villagers that he was the son of Fire Lord Ozai and heir to the throne of the Fire Nation. Aang was discovered by one of the soldiers in Katara and Sokka's igloo with some children. Upon noticing his airbending tattoos, he was brought to Zuko, who demanded to know who he was. Aang refused to give his name, but relented when Zuko to threatened to burn down the village.
Once on the ship, Zuko's uncle, Iroh, conducted a test to determine whether Aang was truly the Avatar or not. He was told that he would be free to leave at the end. The test involved a candle flame that seemed to be drawn toward him, water that formed a perfect circle on the table, and a smooth rock that appeared to move. When seeing that Aang had passed the test, Zuko declared him to be his prisoner. Iroh apologetically explained to the boy that because he had not failed the test as all others did, proving that he was the Avatar, the consequences were thus different from those stipulated beforehand.
Using his airbending, Aang escaped to the surface of the ship, grabbing his staff along the way. Upon noticing Appa landing at a distant icy cliff, he turned his staff into a glider and flew off toward Appa, propelled with airbending. When reunited with Katara and Sokka, Aang thanked his friends for bringing Appa to him. He offered to bring them back to the village, but they insisted on accompanying him to the Southern Air Temple.
The Southern Air Temple
Upon arrival at the Southern Air Temple, Aang called out for his friends and Monk Gyatso, but no one answered. A winged lemur flew to the boy and immediately played and bonded with him. Katara was puzzled as winged lemurs were supposed to be extinct, but Aang, unaware of the events that had occurred in his absence, thought she was mistaken.
Katara immediately realized that Aang had been in the ice for a hundred years, not just gone for a few days as Aang had thought. Before she could tell him, Aang was already racing down to the prayer field, expecting to find his friends there. However, Aang was shocked to find human remains and an unkempt field. It was not until he found a necklace he made for Monk Gyatso on one of the remains that the carnage sunk in.
In his rage, his eyes and tattoos began glowing white, and strong winds began to encircle him, lifting him up. Aang was in a trance and entered the Spirit World, where he met the Dragon Spirit, who was surprised to see "the Avatar" and asked, "Where have you been?" Before Aang could answer, he exited the Spirit World. As Aang left his trance, he heard Katara's voice pleading with him that although they could not bring Monk Gyatso back, she and Sokka would be with him as long as he needed.
Appa landed in a forest in the southern Earth Kingdom, where Katara, Sokka and Aang set up camp. The winged lemur had become their pet and was named Momo. Aang sat alone, making sense of what he saw at the temple and the Spirit World. He learned from Katara that many villages in the Earth Kingdom had fallen under Fire Nation control, but the Fire Nation had yet to conquer big cities like Ba Sing Se. As Aang was a last surviving airbender, Katara and Sokka asked him if he was also the Avatar.
Before Aang could respond, a young boy burst out of the woods and sought refuge with the trio from the Fire Nation soldiers chasing him. He was being arrested for earthbending, as it was forbidden in his village. Katara and Sokka refused to turn the young boy over to the soldiers. Katara popped open her water pouch and bent the water at the soldiers, but the water trapped Sokka's arms and chest in ice instead, much to his frustration.
The soldiers arrested Sokka, Katara, Aang and the young earthbending boy. As they were taken to the prison camp just outside a village, Aang noticed the poor condition of the village and its people. They were shoved through a gateway of a tall metal fence. In the prison yard, there were men on the ground, weary and defeated. The earthbending boy was reunited with his father. Aang was explained by the father what had happened to the village: "The Fire Nation sent soldiers. We fought them and defeated them. But then they sent their machines. Huge machines made of metal. There was nothing we could do. Those who could not bend were allowed to live in peace if we benders were imprisoned."
Aang could not accept that the earthbenders allowed themselves to be humiliated in a minimal security prison camp with earth underneath their feet, especially with the poor treatment the nonbenders received in return for their surrender. He tried to inspire the earthbenders to rise and fight back, but they were non-responsive. When Aang asked if it made any difference if the Avatar had returned, one of them answered that if the Avatar were alive, he would protect them, presumably from an eventual retaliation with the war machines. Aang subsequently revealed to everyone that he was the Avatar.
A soldier sneered at Aang, as the Avatar would have to be an airbender and all airbenders were killed a long time ago. Katara pushed the soldier away, telling him to leave Aang alone. Aang used his airbending to counter an attack on Katara. After a few more airbending moves from Aang and a boomerang attack thrown by Sokka, the remaining soldiers retreated. Outside the prison, Aang took out a few more soldiers in the village. An elder villager showed Aang the statue of Avatar Kyoshi, his previous incarnation as an earthbender, two lifetimes ago.
Aang met with Sokka and Katara and revealed to them he ran away before he was trained to the Avatar - he was unable to bend any elements other than air. The next element to master was water, as the cycle was air, water, earth and fire. Sokka suggested that they travel to the Northern Water Tribe, which was on the other side of the world, as his father told him about powerful waterbenders there who may be able to teach Aang. Sokka also suggested they visit the small villages occupied by the Fire Nation along the way to start a change in the War.
The group of Aang, Sokka, Katara, Momo and Appa, set out on the journey to the north. Along the way they visited villages, where Aang announced the Avatar had returned. In villages that were still occupied by Fire Nation soldiers, Aang used his airbending to defeat them and liberate the villages from their grip.
The Blue Spirit
At the shore of a sparkling lake beside a forest, Katara and Aang practiced waterbending while Sokka tended to a campfire nearby. Katara asked Aang why he seemed distracted. He said they were near the Northern Air Temple and wanted to visit there and return, all within a day. He believed that at another spiritual place he may be able to communicate with the Dragon Spirit again. Katara filled Sokka in on Aang's plan, but Sokka was against it and urged Katara to talk him out of it.
Aang continued practicing waterbending in the dark, while Sokka and Katara were sleeping. He managed to raise the three short pillars of water. As he closed his eyes concentrating, ripples and waves began to form on the lake. He remembered Monk Gyatso giving lessons to him and the other students in the open field and images of skeletal remains he saw earlier. When he opened his eyes, he was surprised to see the result of his lack of control over waterbending. Convinced that he needed help immediately from the Dragon Spirit, he woke up Appa to head over to the Northern Air Temple. Sokka and Katara woke up and saw him took off. She assured Sokka that Aang will back in a day, but Sokka was concerned the Fire Nation might catch him.
Appa landed at the Northern Air Temple. As he made his way in the temple ruins, he found an old-man, an Earth Kingdom villager who had been visiting the temple often. He was surprised to see the Avatar's return and led Aang to a hidden chamber of statues of past Avatars, each one representing his reincarnations over the years; Avatar Roku was his last life. Aang revealed that the airbenders knew he was the Avatar after he chose four toys out of a thousand, the same toys that belonged to the previous Avatar. He was subsequently told he could not have a family and had a responsibility to the four nations. In the ceremony where everyone bowed to him, expecting him to accept his role as the Avatar, he did not bow back. The old man subsequently apologized to Aang for luring him down there, as he had lived in poverty because of his absence. Confused, Aang turned to see himself surrounded by Fire Nation archers hiding behind soldiers. Other soldiers poured into the chamber; one of them passed the old man a pouch of money as a reward.
Aang was hanging from chains in a prayer room in the Northern Air Temple. He closed his eyes and entered the Spirit World. Aang met the Dragon Spirit again, who told him, "I have seen a vision of the moon turning red. The Fire Nation has stolen knowledge of us from the Great Library. They were planning to misuse this knowledge. You must go to the Northern Water Tribe. If they take that city, more will suffer and die as your airbenders have. You must go now!" When Aang asked if he will stop them, he was pulled from the Spirit World, being woken up by Zhao. Zhao introduced himself and revealed that he set the trap for Aang. Zhao assured Aang that he would not kill him as he would just be reborn again and the search for the Avatar would continue. Zhao noted that when Aang freed the towns, he only used airbending.
Later, a blue-masked figure came in and used his dual dao swords to break Aang free from the chains. As he escapes, Aang used his airbending to knock two soldiers who blocked his path. He entered the temple courtyard with the blue-masked figure, referred by the soldiers as the Blue Spirit. They were surrounded by many Fire Nation soldiers. A fire attack from behind forced them to evade and split up, fighting the soldiers on the opposite sides of the courtyard. Aang used the airbending practice area to take out the soldiers, before leaping out of the courtyard and running on the stepping pillars where the soldiers were unable to follow. He was about to fly out using his staff-glider but seeing the Blue Spirit still fending off the soldiers by himself, Aang flew back to fight alongside him.
Zhao ordered his soldiers not to kill the Avatar, as he would just be reborn again. The Blue Spirit quickly grabbed Aang and threateningly held his sword at Aang's throat. Zhao had no choice but to let them go. The soldiers remained at the courtyard while the Blue Spirit led Aang across the bridge. At the end of the bridge, Zhao's archer shot down the Blue Spirit with a single arrow. The soldiers rushed across the bridge to capture them. Aang discovered the unconscious Blue Spirit was Prince Zuko and used his airbending to pull in the fog and mask their getaway. The next morning, he left Zuko still unconscious by the campfire in the forest, leaping from tree to tree.
Siege of the North
Aang, Katara and Sokka arrived at the North Pole, where Aang presented himself at the Royal Court and showed them that he was the last airbender. After an impressive airbending move, he was accepted to train with Master Pakku. For weeks, Katara and Aang attended waterbending classes taught by Master Pakku. One day, after Pakku explained to his students about letting their emotions flow like water to master water, he invited Aang to spar with him. Pakku encased him in an icy prison, Aang gracefully waterbent the ice away. Pakku sent him three water balls at him, which Aang successful caught in mid-air and dispersed. Aang attempted an offensive move as instructed, but he only managed to raise droplets of water and inadvertently raised the waters in the nearby canals. Aang stopped, realizing his continuing lack of control over his waterbending ability, as Pakku and the students watched in astonishment.
Aang and Katara were practicing their waterbending forms when black ashes fell all over the city, alerting them of the arrival of the Fire Nation forces. Aang, along with Sokka, came into the balcony room, to see Princess Yue, who was overseeing the Fire Nation armada with Katara. Aang asked Yue if there was a spiritual place where he could meditate to contact the Dragon Spirit for advice in defeating the Fire Nation. Yue knew of one, as the city was built around it. She led Katara, Sokka and Aang to a hidden oasis, the most spiritual place in North Pole.
Inside, Aang revealed that to receive an airbending tattoo, one must be able to meditate for long periods of time without losing focus. Aang entered a trance after staring at the two koi fish in the pool and ventured to the Spirit World. Sokka escorted Yue back to the tribe while Katara stayed with Aang. When Zuko arrived, Katara dueled him and lost. Zuko kidnapped the Avatar while Katara was left unconscious until Yue and Sokka returned to the Spirit Oasis.
Elsewhere, Zuko placed Aang, still in trance with his hands bound with rope, down in a storage room in the stronghold. In the Spirit World, Aang asked the Dragon Spirit how to defeat the Fire Nation, but was told, "You are not dealing with loss of your people and your responsibilities for their deaths. You are stopping yourself from grieving. You are angry. You must let this go. As the Avatar you are not meant to hurt others ..." The Dragon slithered past Aang out of the cave, but peered back at Aang and continued, "Use the Ocean. Show them the power of water. Go! Do this now." The Dragon spread its mighty wings and lifted itself into the sky, as Aang left his trance.
Aang found himself bound in the storage room and took off, leaping over barrels, with Zuko chasing him. He firebent the flames from the torches to take Aang down, blasting away items in the room in the process. Zuko searched for Aang hiding in the storage room. His hands now free, Aang used airbending to distract Zuko and tried to escape. The situation escalated to a fight, later with firebending and airbending. As the fight turned into a standoff, they noticed that room was rumbling. The water in the barrels began to shake and subsequently spiraled toward Zuko, encasing him in ice. Aang turned to see Katara, who had seen the flames illuminating from the window of the storage room from the city below. Aang told Katara that the Dragon Spirit told him what to do. Before leaving the room after Katara, Sokka, and Yue, Aang melted the ice around Zuko's head so Zuko could breathe. Aang suggested for Zuko to stay hidden there for his safety, and that they could be friends.
Aang was heading toward the courtyard with Sokka, Yue and Katara, when he noticed Zhao heading somewhere with a scroll in his hand. He suggested the others follow Zhao and his men, while he joined the fight in the main courtyard. After the Moon Spirit was killed, Aang looked at the battle surrounding him, as the Dragon Spirit's words were heard again: "As the Avatar you are not meant to hurt others ... You must show them the power of water ..."
With the moon restored after Yue gave her life to its spirit, Aang raced to the fort wall, using waterbending to trap and stop Fire Nation soldiers along the way. He sent an airbending blast through the courtyard, opening a path through the battle forces, leading him right to the wall. At the top, he looked out at the vast Fire Nation fleet in the ocean. Letting his emotions flow like water, he recalled images of his life with Monk Gyatso and his friends, as well as the fateful event where everyone bowed to him and he ran away instead of bowing back.
Freeing himself of his guilt, Aang used the Ocean's power to push a massive body of water up against the fort wall, and Moon's power to pull it toward the sky. His eyes and tattoos glowed bluish-white as he unleashed the power of water. The battle paused again to view the incredible feat of waterbending. The Fire Nation soldiers in the city tried to retreat through a breach, but it was blocked by the water. Aang bent the water toward the Fire Nation fleet, but kept it hovering threateningly above them. Knowing that the water could easily crush the fleet, the Fire Nation accepted defeat and turned away. Aang bent the water back into the ocean and watched the fleet retreat.
Katara hugged Aang as he was cheered from the city below. She and Sokka helped an exhausted Aang down the stairs into the courtyard. Aang saw the entire Northern Water Tribe waiting for him. They all knelt and bowed before him. The remaining Fire Nation soldiers left in the city also bowed, in awe of his power and moved by his show of mercy. Katara said, "They want you to be their Avatar, Aang. We all do," before she and Sokka bowed alongside the others. Finally accepting his role as the Avatar, he bowed back.
Aang is fun-loving, somewhat naive and adventurous. He possesses a deep respect for life and freedom and is often reluctant to fight though when he does, he tends to use more defensive forms than attack. He craves the stimulation of new people and places. His frequent off-course detours frustrate both allies and pursuers alike. Yet Aang has always prided himself on a complex social network of friends extending over all four nations, and war will not stand in his way. In addition, he looks forward to playing with all the exotic fauna in each place he visits. Whether it is penguins, pig hog-monkeys or gigantic eels, no fit animal Aang sees goes unridden.
Underneath this carefree exterior, however, Aang hides a great deal of guilt and mental burden in his duties as Avatar. Very much the reluctant hero, he wishes he had been there to help his people a century ago. This initially caused him to conceal his true identity from friends, and he still has a tendency to slack off in his studies of the bending arts, even though he naturally excels at it. He also tends to becomes very distressed when he sees destruction caused by the War, believing that as the Avatar, it is his job to prevent such events from happening.
Aang dons an intricate airbending tattoo on his head and along his arms and legs. The tattoos are along the chi-lines as with his animated counterpart, except for a "cross-like" figure between his shoulder blades on his back. At the Spirit Oasis, Aang revealed that to receive the tattoos, an airbender must be able to meditate for long periods of time without losing focus, presumably as a mark of graduation, rather than after mastering thirty-five of the thirty-six tiers of airbending and inventing a new airbending technique like the "air scooter" in the series. In the BR/DVD featurette, Discovering The Last Airbender, Bryan Konietzko said he suggested that the tattoos, which were solid lines in animated version, be made more intricate for the live-action version.
As the incarnation of the Avatar, Aang possesses the ability to bend all four elements, making him the most powerful bender in the world. Because the Avatar Spirit has mastered all the elements many lifetimes over, Aang has exceptional natural talent toward bending. Aang can also bend two elements at the same time. He is also extremely agile and quick. Frequently, he can defend himself without bending by simply dodging and avoiding attacks. He sometimes uses techniques similar to the martial art Aikido, which is the pursuit of harmony in conflict situations, rather than destroying or defeating the opponent. Aang can use his glider staff too with great skill, using it sometimes for attack, defense, or bending.
From the moment the waterbender found Aang, she became his staunch defender and protector, adopting motherly instincts toward Aang. Katara offered Aang emotional support, as she was also his closest friend. Aang revealed his past life at the Southern Air Temple to her, along with why he ran away and how he feels responsible for the War. Katara's show of affection toward him was quite evident, but he has yet to reciprocate her feelings for him and turn the relationship into "something more", similar to the original series. As of the first movie, Aang only considered her and Sokka as his newfound "family" to be protected.
Aang's relationship with Sokka, although not largely developed upon, was based upon principles of mutual respect. Although hesitant to trust Aang early on, their relationship and friendship developed as time passed. At some point during the movie, Aang began to consider Sokka as a part of his newfound "family".
Monk Gyatso was the monk in charge of taking care of Aang at the Southern Air Temple. Up until Aang ran away, Gyatso acted like a father figure to him, teaching him airbending and the ways of the Avatar. Gyatso was among the monks to whom Aang was supposed to bow, accepting his role as the Avatar. He was the only one that noticed Aang hesitated before he ran away. Gyatso's death was the one Aang was most distraught over.
The Fire Nation prince, Zuko, was one of Aang's greatest enemies. His quest to capture Aang, thus ensuring the Fire Nation's victory, is a threat to Aang's work and the world at large. Yet each has worked in the other's service. Because Zuko's throne and right to return home from exile are forfeit if he does not find the Avatar, he must protect Aang from other potential threats. When Aang was captured by Zuko's rival, Commander Zhao, Zuko posed as a blue-masked, dual-broadsword-wielding vigilante named the Blue Spirit to free Aang from custody. In turn, Aang rescued Zuko from capture when he was knocked unconscious in their escape attempt.
In the movie, Aang is played by relative newcomer Noah Ringer. Ringer began practicing Taekwondo - the martial art and national sport of South Korea - at the age of ten. His skills later garnered accolades, including the title of American Taekwondo Association Texas State Champion. He began shaving his head during his martial arts training to help cool off, which gave him the nickname "Avatar" due to his resemblance to Aang from the animated series. When he heard about the film adaptation, he made an audition tape with his instructor and sent it to the filmmakers. He had not worked in film before, but his resemblance to Aang, enhanced by painted a blue arrow on his already shaved head, swung him the role. Having not acted before, Ringer was required to attend acting school a month before filming commenced, calling the film a great experience.
- He appears to be the youngest monk ever to master airbending, receiving his tattoos, the Air Nomads' sign of airbending mastery, when he was a child.
- In the television series, Aang's name has the American pronunciation: "Ang" or "Aeng" (: [æŋ], as in "sang"). In the film, the pronunciation is "Ahng" (IPA: [ɑːŋ], as in "art" or "aha" or "father"), rather than "Ong" (IPA: [ɔŋ], as in "song"), or "Ung" (IPA: [ʌŋ] as in "sung").
- Aang, unlike his television counterpart, had some difficulty learning waterbending, due to him grieving the extinction of the Air Nomads.
- Aang in the series was found at the age of twelve, but was found at thirteen in the movie.
- Aang's tattoos in this movie are more detailed than his animated counterpart. According to the featurettes on the BD/DVD, it was done at the suggestion of Bryan Konietzko as he had to use the solid arrows to simplify the animation process.
- Aang seemed far more serious in the film, differentiating from his humorous and good-natured character in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- In the film, the Avatar is told they can never have a family, which is why Aang ran away.