|"I was cast aside by my own parents like I meant nothing to them! How could I just stand by and watch the same thing happen to my nation when it needed someone to guide it?"|
|— Kuvira explaining to Korra why she usurped power in the Earth Kingdom.|
Kuvira is a master metalbender who served as political and military leader of the Earth Kingdom and the Earth Empire between 171 and 174 AG. Before her rise to power, she was a prominent member of the Metal Clan, serving as both the captain of the guard in Zaofu and part of Suyin Beifong's dance troupe. Following the outbreak of anarchy in the Earth Kingdom upon Earth Queen Hou-Ting's assassination, Kuvira left the Metal Clan and earned the trust of the world leaders by stabilizing Ba Sing Se and was appointed as the nation's provisional leader. For the next three years, she subsequently set out to reunite the rest of the kingdom with her army, which earned her the title of "Great Uniter". In her pursuit of order, Kuvira offered to protect the nation's states from bandits in exchange for their loyalty. During Prince Wu's coronation, Kuvira denounced the authority of the Earth King and dissolved the Earth Kingdom in favor of an "Earth Empire" under her leadership. Her reign came to an end, however, after she was defeated in Republic City and imprisoned. She was also engaged to Baatar Jr., who left Zaofu with her to support her ideals, though ended their relationship when she was willing to sacrifice him to have a chance to end Avatar Korra's life.
Kuvira was born to an Earth Kingdom couple who eventually came to consider her a difficult child, her father believing that she refused to listen, had no discipline and showed no remorse for her misbehavior. On one occasion, Kuvira ran away from home after her parents confiscated her toys and locked her in her room as punishment for breaking a vase, Kuvira denying any wrongdoing and using her earthbending to break down the wall and make her escape.
Some time after this incident, when Kuvira was eight years old, her parents arranged for her to be adopted by Suyin Beifong, in the hope that the metalbending master would be able to knock some sense into her. Kuvira's father dropped her off at the gates of Zaofu with a sack of her possessions, and told her that what was happening was for her own good, before leaving his daughter behind. Kuvira was greeted warmly by Suyin, who promised the young girl that she would be safe in Zaofu, though the fact that her parents had cast her aside so easily would haunt Kuvira for the rest of her life.
Suyin nurtured Kuvira's talents and, over time, came to regard her as a daughter, though Kuvira felt that she was never treated the same as Suyin's biological children. Growing up, she became heavily influenced by Suyin's progressive ideology concerning modernization and self-fulfillment. A smart and natural leader, Kuvira quickly rose through the ranks of Zaofu's security team, eventually becoming captain of the city's guard. She also was a part of Suyin's dance troupe.
Several days later, Kuvira accompanied Suyin's family and Team Avatar to a rooftop where they bade farewell to Opal, who left Zaofu for airbending training at the Northern Air Temple. After the airbender's airship left the city, Kuvira used her radio to command the other guards to begin securing Zaofu for the evening. Later that night, Kuvira attacked Zaheer and his group after the four managed to infiltrate the city in an attempt to kidnap Korra. She helped the other members of the Metal Clan trap the criminals in a makeshift metal prison, before ordering them to surrender and return the Avatar. Following the group's escape, Kuvira and the other guards searched the city, albeit to no avail, as they were unable to find any traces of the four benders.
Kuvira was questioned by Aiwei, along with the rest of the city's guards, in an attempt to determine the identity of Zaheer's accomplice. When Aiwei's involvement in the attempted kidnapping of Avatar Korra came to light, Kuvira was ordered by Lin Beifong to search the city for the truth seer and determine where the tunnel underneath his home led, which she eventually traced to a dead end with no signs of Aiwei.
Stopping the Red Lotus
Kuvira traveled with Team Avatar, their allies, and several other members of the Metal Clan to the Northern Air Temple in an attempt to free the airbenders held captive by the Red Lotus. Adhering to Zaheer's demand to meet Korra alone at Laghima's Peak, Kuvira went with Suyin, Lin, Tonraq, and the other metalbenders to the base of the peak and started climbing the mountain with their metal cables in order to be ready to aid Korra if it became necessary. After Mako alerted Lin that they had been double-crossed, the group hurried to the top, though as soon as Kuvira emerged, she was blown off the peak by one of P'Li's combustion beams. Using her cables, she managed to save herself and rejoined the other metalbenders atop the cliff, where they attempted to subdue P'Li. In the midst of the battle that ensued, Kuvira used her cables to save Tonraq after Zaheer used airbending to throw the waterbender off the mountain.
Following the fight, the group reassembled at the base of the peak, where Kuvira tended to Tonraq's wounds. While bandaging the tribal chief's arm, Kuvira introduced herself by name after the waterbender thanked her for her help and addressed her by her rank. She requested to accompany Suyin and the members of Team Avatar to a series of caves near the temple in order to rescue the missing airbenders, but was ordered by Suyin to remain with the injured, much to her disappointment.
Reuniting the Earth Kingdom
A few weeks after the insurrection of the Red Lotus, Kuvira was present during a meeting between President Raiko, Tenzin, and Suyin, as they hoped the latter would take their offer to reunite the Earth Kingdom. When Suyin declined, Kuvira urged the matriarch to reconsider, believing it to be their opportunity to share Zaofu's progressive ways with the rest of the nation. Even though the Zaofu matriarch explained that they would be seen as conquerors and only greeted with war, Kuvira reasoned that there were already wars and by becoming involved, they had the opportunity to change things. Suyin remained adamant in declining, which caused a rift between the two women and Kuvira secretly collaborated with Baatar Jr. to devise a way to get out of the city and stabilize Ba Sing Se. She persuaded Varrick, a large part of the city's security force, and a few of its wealthiest citizens to accompany her. As they were preparing the airships for departure, Suyin confronted her protégée, who boldly told her that they were leaving Zaofu to restore order in the Earth Kingdom. Threatened to be banished from the city if they were to leave, Kuvira remained unfazed, declaring that when she chose to return, it would be on her own terms. They left for Ba Sing Se and managed to stabilize the capital, an action that earned Kuvira the trust of the world leaders, who appointed her as the nation's provisional leader. During her quest to reunite the kingdom, she assembled a massive army, which included modernized airships, mecha suits, and other tanks. With a high-speed maglev train, Kuvira traveled to states overrun by bandits and bargained with their leaders, offering protection and supplies in return for their allegiance to her. However, after stabilizing the town, she forced the citizens to slave labor in order to serve her war effort and sent off dissenters to reeducation camps, as well as citizens not of native Earth Kingdom origin. At some point, she also started a romantic relationship with Baatar Jr., with whom she eventually got engaged.
Annexation of the state of Yi
By 174 AG, Kuvira had united ninety percent of the states of the Earth Kingdom. When Varrick ordered Zhu Li to provide everyone with some celebratory tea, Kuvira declined the beverage, vowing to celebrate only when her mission was completed in entirety, causing Varrick, Zhu Li, Bolin, and Baatar Jr. to hold off on their own drinks. When the train suddenly halted, she demanded to know the reason and was informed that the tracks were blocked by a pile of rocks left by bandits. Although troops had been deployed to handle the situation, Kuvira ordered their retreat as she wanted to handle the situation herself. She exited the train atop its roof from where she watched the bandits descend the cliffs on either side of her vehicle. Kuvira easily evaded or deflected the rocks aimed at her and, as soon as her opponents came within striking distance, she retaliated by launching a series of metal strips which she used to cover her opponents' eyes and restrict their limbs. After subduing all of her attackers and binding them to the train tracks, Kuvira removed the metal strips covering their eyes and addressed the earthbenders, whom she berated for causing chaos where she was attempting to restore order. When a female bandit started to apologize, Kuvira silenced her by covering her mouth momentarily with a metal strip to prevent the woman from interrupting her. When a male bandit begged for mercy, she ordered them to stop groveling over their predicament and offered them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and serve as productive members of the Earth Kingdom, vowing to give them a new purpose in life in return for their loyalty to her. If they refused her offer, she threatened to leave them stuck to the tracks, prompting the prisoners to pledge their loyalty and join her army, much to her satisfaction.
After arriving at the capital of the state of Yi, Kuvira was pleased to see Opal and Bolin reunite, remarking that they were her favorite couple. After Opal snapped at Baatar Jr. that he had betrayed their mother, Kuvira urged the airbender to let go of what happened three years prior, remarking that she and her army were there solely to help the state recover. She acknowledged that rumors of her conquering towns may paint her in a negative light, but assured Opal that she was only concerned in providing a better future for the Earth Kingdom people by laying the groundwork for citizens to achieve their own greatness. After revealing that she and Baatar Jr. were engaged, she asked Opal to forgive and forget the troubles that occurred between her and the Beifong family three years prior. Their conversation was cut short, however, when Kuvira was asked by the governor of Yi what she was doing there, upon which she requested a private audience with the man on her train.
Alone inside her train, Kuvira asked the governor if he had time to rethink her offer, which she deemed to be generous. When the governor opposed the generosity of it all, she pointed out that the bandits outnumbered his people and out-supplied his state, making it only a matter of time until Yi would succumb. By signing her deal, she would save the lives of the people of Yi as well as keep the governor in position under her supervision, which was something that she deemed to be generous. She was refused once more, however, and accused of only wanting access to Yi's ore reserves, which prompted Kuvira to reprimand the governor for his pride, which would be ineffective to protect Yi against bandits and to feed the people. Despite her efforts, the governor refused to yield and Kuvira ordered her troops to head out. Upon asked what had happened, Kuvira explained that she was unable to make a deal with the governor. As she moved to retreat into the train, Kai asked if they were not going to stay and help, which prompted Kuvira to hand him the contract, saying that she and her army would remain stationed at the state border for a day and if he could get the governor to sign the document, she would provide all the help Yi needed.
Kuvira returned to the state capital after the governor acquiesced and signed the contract, immediately deploying soldiers and modernized mecha suits as well as distributing parcels of food. She declared that Yi was under her army's full protection before turning to the governor and forcing him to pledge his allegiance to her if he wished to keep his position.
Establishing the Earth Empire
A day before Prince Wu's coronation as the fifty-fourth earth monarch, Kuvira and her army arrived at Republic City. With a select group of officers, she made her way to the Republic City Four Elements hotel, where she was greeted by some of her fans, asking her for an autograph. As the children retreated with their signed paper, Kuvira was approached by Wu, who complimented her appearance. She remained unfazed by his flirtatious manners and declined his offer to talk to the hotel clerks on her behalf to receive a nicer room, informing the prince that she had already reserved the Presidential Suite. It was only when the prince laughed her comment away, stating that he was staying in that room, that she turned to look at him and amusedly told the royal that she had him moved. As Wu grew disheartened over the prospect of staying in a junior suite, Kuvira commented that she always got what she wanted.
The next day, Kuvira was seated next to the world leaders to attend Wu's coronation as king. She was called forth by the new king and received the Kyoshi Medal of Freedom for her efforts to restabilize the nation. Being allowed to give a speech, she stated that she had learned by growing up in Zaofu with Suyin Beifong that the idea of a hereditary monarchy was archaic and technology and innovation should be the thriving factors of a nation. Blaming the continuous rule of unsuitable monarchs for the state of disarray in the Earth Kingdom, she declared that it had taken her three years to get the nation stabilized and would refuse to let it descend into chaos once again. She denounced Wu's authority and dissolved the Earth Kingdom, appointing herself as the leader of what she now called the "Earth Empire", intending to bring about a new era of prosperity for her people. Warning the world leaders not to cross her, she emphasized her words by ripping off and crushing the medal she had been given. She received a standing ovation from a cheering crowd for her words.
Upon returning to the Presidential Suite, Kuvira noticed that Bolin looked worried and approached him. Hearing about him having misgivings about how she ambushed the world leaders, she implored him to stand by her since he believed in the work they had done thus far, adding that she would need him more than ever as the world leaders would try to force them to accept Wu's reign, who would not serve the people. She assured him that her threat to crush her opponents was merely tough rhetoric to make everyone understand that they were not to be fooled with, as conflict was the last thing she wanted. She requested his help to make history, which led him to reaffirm his loyalty to her cause.
When Suyin entered to room, stating she and Kuvira needed to talk, the military leader asked Bolin to leave the room. She criticized the matriarch of Zaofu for her passive attitude toward the consequences of Queen Hou-Ting's death. As Suyin defended herself by saying that she merely did not want to seize power for herself like Kuvira had done and that it was beneficial for the good if she would step down, Kuvira rebuffed her statement, pointing out that she was the one who provided stability and equality and that they would not accepted Wu's reign, whom she referred to as the "world leaders' hand-picked dictator". Upon being told that she was a dictator herself due to what she had done to cities which refused to capitulate to her, Kuvira warned Suyin that the same would be coming for Zaofu.
As Kuvira and her army left Republic City on her train, she watched as Varrick began to experiment on a hunk of spirit vine, telling him the development of this new technology was his number one priority. She mobilized her army and headed toward Zaofu with the intent of conquering the last territory not under her control.
While her army had already arrived at the gates of Zaofu and set up camp, Kuvira was still underway with her maglev train. En route, she cautioned Baatar Jr. to not get ahead of himself by stating that by the same time the following day, Suyin would have signed the treaty that surrendered Zaofu to their control, as she knew that securing the metal city would not be as easy as he made it seem. When her fiancé declared to be ready to take the city by force, she reeled him in once more, stressing the importance of handling the situation with diplomacy, as the eyes of the world were upon them. She wished to use Bolin for that task, since Suyin trusted him and she hoped that the matriarch would listen to him.
When a shock rattled their train, Kuvira and Baatar Jr. swiftly made their way down to the last cart where Varrick was conducting his experiments on spirit vines and inquired if they were attacked. She was reassured by the inventor that they had merely been "spirit vined" and that she did not need to worry about that as he would terminate the project. She ordered him to continue, asking if he realized what they would be able to achieve with such power, though that was the reason why he wanted to stop the experiment. As he went on about having developed a conscience, Kuvira notified him that she was the other voice in his head that ordered him to continue. When Varrick once again adamantly refused, she metalbent his metal shoulder plates and dangled him out of the back of the train, threatening to drop him on the tracks. After Varrick quickly reconsidered his stance on the project, she hauled him back in and roughly threw him down on the metal floor. Ostentatiously stepping over him, she retreated back to her own cart with her fiancé, while placing the inventor under military supervision.
Back in her own wagon, Kuvira summoned Bolin and told him that they had selected him to be part of their inner circle. She explained that Suyin's resentment toward her and Baatar Jr. would prevent the matriarch from joining their cause and truly reunite the Earth Empire. As such, it was her hope that Bolin would be able to convince Suyin on their behalf. Upon being asked about the army's presence at the gates of Zaofu, Kuvira dismissed it as merely being a projection of strength, whereas Bolin was there to present peace.
Arriving at Zaofu, Kuvira and Bolin were led by Baatar Jr. to the room where the rest of the Beifong family was awaiting them. As Suyin declared that she was not giving up Zaofu, despite of all the military presence, Kuvira tried to reassure the matriarch that the troops were merely there to show what she and Baatar Jr. had accomplished. Tensions rose, however, when Kuvira dryly laughed away Suyin's suggestion that she had brainwashed Baatar Jr., angrily snapping back that she had merely set him free and that he had already accomplished more with her than he could have ever done if he had stayed in Zaofu. Although Bolin tried to defuse the situation, he was ignored and Kuvira was ordered by Suyin to leave, as Zaofu would never accept her as their leader. Unfazed, she gave the matriarch a twenty-four hour ultimatum to join the empire peacefully or they would take it by force.
Back in the army camp, upon being asked if she truly intended to invade Zaofu, Kuvira revealed to Bolin that it was only natural for them to find "other ways" for people to join if they refused to cooperate. She did not elaborate on what those ways were, dismissing them to be not of importance to him, and merely stated that the citizens of the annexed states were her loyal subjects, whom she could order around as she saw fit. As part of their inner circle, she made it clear that there were some hard truths that he just needed to accept without questions. Upon hearing Bolin's suggestion that they should just leave Zaofu, as that would mean that the Earth Empire would already be united, Kuvira grew angry, blaming him to love Opal more than he was loyal to her, and threatened to ship him off to a reeducation camp. Although he affirmed his loyalty to her, Kuvira remained skeptical.
Later, when Kuvira was talking to two of her sergeants, she was approached by her fiancé and Korra. She warmly greeted the Avatar, stating it was an honor to meet her again and that it was wonderful news that she had recovered from her ordeal with Zaheer. However, when Korra made it clear that she was there to ask the army commander to back down, Kuvira stated that they both knew she would not follow through on that request. Upon being told that she could not claim Zaofu without any resistance from the Avatar, she calmly stated that she was tasked to bring unity to the Earth Kingdom and failed to see why she should treat Zaofu, the last holdout, differently from any other state. She understood that Korra was doing Suyin a favor, though opposed the intrusion on her quest of reuniting the nation. She pointed out that the world had been descending into chaos while Korra was gone and that she had been forced to make some tough decisions to get it back on track. Since Korra could sympathize with the feeling of having people mad due to a decision made, Kuvira asked the Avatar to try to convince Suyin into giving up the city. In order to facilitate the talks, she called a temporary truce which would last until Korra got back to her with Suyin's decision.
By dusk, Bolin, Zhu Li, and Varrick were presented to Kuvira in her personal tent after being caught deserting the army. She ordered them all to be shipped out on the first train, sending Bolin and Zhu Li to the reeducation camp for their most stern dissenters, while placing Varrick under military, armed supervision to continue his spirit energy experiments. When Zhu Li begged her to have mercy, pledging her allegiance and her life to the army commander, Kuvira reconsidered the assistant's fate and gave her another change, pointing out to the two men that they could learn a lot from the woman.
That night, Kuvira had the feeling that Suyin would attempt an attack on her and thus ordered Zhu Li to sleep in her bed instead. Her suspicions proved to be correct when the Zaofu matriarch and her twin sons, Wei and Wing, infiltrated her tent and captured Zhu Li. When the walls of her quarters fell back and revealed to the intruders that they had walked into a trap, Kuvira chastised Suyin for being a coward, noting that she believed the Zaofu matriarch had always been afraid; afraid to step up and lead the Earth Kingdom, afraid to join her when she became the leader, and afraid to face her in a fair fight. She ordered her men to arrest the intruders and subsequently used Zaofu's internal communication system to announce to the entire city that Suyin, Wei, and Wing had been arrested. As an act of mercy, she stated that she would not take revenge on the peaceful citizens of Zaofu if the remaining representatives would meet her at dawn and offer her the full and unconditional surrender of the city.
At dawn, Kuvira stood in front of her entire, battle-ready army, where she was approached by Korra, Opal, and Jinora, who served as the representatives of Zaofu. When Opal ordered her to release her family, Kuvira stated that she would make sure no harm befell the Beifong clan if Suyin would bow to her, though the matriarch quickly made it clear that she was not going to do so. Upon being asked if there was a way to resolve the brewing conflict, she reiterated that she had already laid out her terms, which she deemed to be reasonable. As Opal inquired after Bolin's whereabouts, Kuvira let the airbender believe that he completely supported her actions. Having had enough of the talks, she ordered the surrender of Zaofu, though when Korra objected, Kuvira chastised the Avatar for interfering in internal Earth Empire business and letting her personal feelings cloud her judgment. She stated that Zaofu had been hoarding its riches and technology for too long and could no longer continue to rule itself, explaining her plans to distribute the city's resources fairly across the rest of the empire. Upon hearing Opal urge Korra to take her down, Kuvira made it clear to the Avatar that the only way she could be stopped was if Korra physically forced her. Hearing Korra say that she had left her no choice, Kuvira addressed her army, stating that she would never ask them to do anything that she was not willing to do herself. As such, she challenged Korra to a one-on-one duel for the fate of Zaofu: if Korra won, she would leave Zaofu to her, though if she won, the Avatar needed to stay out of Earth Empire business.
As Korra accepted the challenge, Kuvira told her that she could use every element at her disposal, as well as the Avatar State, baiting the younger woman by stating that she knew the Avatar was a "little rusty". Although Korra fiercely charged her, barraging her with elemental attacks, Kuvira managed to keep the upper hand with her agility, swift changes between metal and earth attacks, and fast counter strikes. After knocking Korra down a few times and tossing her over the battle field, Kuvira was pushed back when Korra entered the Avatar State, delivering two swift and powerful airbending blows. Dazed, the army commander looked up at as the Avatar rode an airspout and levitated a large boulder with which she intended to crush her. Korra fell out of the Avatar State, however, when she was beset by another hallucination in which Kuvira's face was substituted with her own with the eyes aglow, allowing Kuvira to capture Korra by the wrists with two metal strips and levitate her in the air. Slamming her down on the ground and rendering her unconscious, Kuvira encased Korra in an earth shell and bent six metal strips into sharp razors with which she intended to finish the Avatar. Before she could do so, however, she was blown back by Opal and Jinora. Helped up to her feet again by two soldiers, Kuvira ordered her army to attack, since the airbenders' intervention had broken their agreement. Her soldiers failed to reach the women due to a powerful whirlwind, though they forced them to flee Zaofu on Pepper, which prompted Kuvira to announce that Zaofu was theirs, officially reuniting the Earth Empire.
Inside Zaofu, Kuvira ordered the citizens to kneel before her. If they did so, she promised to let them have their freedom and deal with them fairly as citizens of the Earth Empire. If they were to refuse to pledge their loyalty to her, she would imprison them as traitors, presenting an imprisoned Suyin, Wei, and Wing to emphasize that she was not idly threatening them. After Baatar and Huan were the only two to refuse to acknowledge her, she retreated to the Beifong family's personal garden, where she played around with a meteorite while Baatar Jr. reported to her that Varrick and Bolin had perished in the explosion that also destroyed the spirit vine technology. She was reassured by her fiancé, however, that he could replicate the technology if he had an assistant, upon which she appointed Zhu Li to help him. She also ordered Baatar Jr. to commence dismantling the domes that protected Zaofu, in order to fashion an enormous mecha suit to carry transport her spirit energy cannon, and issued wanted posters of Bolin and Varrick, despite her fiancé's assurance that they had perished.
Readying the spirit weapon
Kuvira later took her air fleet toward the Foggy Swamp. Making her way to the banyan-grove tree, she was informed by Baatar Jr. that the roots there contained even more spirit energy than the vines procured in Republic City. As such, she ordered her battalion of mecha suits to harvest all the roots they could find.
Weeks later, Kuvira traveled toward one of her factories near Zaofu to inspect the progress made on the spirit energy cannon. As Baatar Jr. reported that they had encountered some malfunctions, she turned to Zhu Li and asked the assistant what she thought the problem was, since she had been working on the project from the start. Being told that problems were normal with a machine from such complexity, Kuvira verified with the woman that she was truly doing everything that she could to fix them. Satisfied with Zhu Li's affirmation, she ordered all the troops and factory workers to be present at the cannon's demonstration the next day.
The following day, Kuvira congratulated the gathered people on their hard work and declared the spirit energy cannon to be proof of the Earth Empire being the strongest nation of the world. As the troops cheered for her, she ordered Baatar Jr. to fire the cannon. When the machine malfunctioned again and Baatar Jr. pointed out that a missing distributor pin could cause the machine to explode, Kuvira turned to Zhu Li and asked what she knew of it all. Not convinced with the assistant's answer that she knew of nothing, she metalbent the missing pin out of Zhu Li's uniform. Kuvira angrily berated Zhu Li for her betrayal after she had been given a chance. As Zhu Li denounced her to be a monster, Kuvira sentenced her to be chained to a tower in the abandoned town that was the target of the cannon, where she would be the first victim of the spirit weapon.
When the alarm of the factory blared moments later, Kuvira immediately deduced it was triggered by the imprisoned Beifong family. She ordered some of her soldiers to hurry down to the prison, while telling Baatar Jr. to continue his work on repairing the cannon as she desired to see the target town be destroyed. When he fired the weapon, she grew angry upon finding the trajectory of the beam distorted by the Beifong family, who had used their earthbending to momentarily knock the cannon off balance. Kuvira narrowly missed the rock Suyin launched at her head by rolling out of the way. The two metalbenders started to barrage each other with small, metal strips, each alternating between offensive and defensive maneuvers. Kuvira was caught off guard when Suyin bent one of the metal containers atop the cannon to her, though she managed to hurl it over the side and out of her way. Seeking revenge, Kuvira used the metal bands over her left bicep to fashion a sword and launched herself toward her former mentor, who only narrowly avoided being struck. When Suyin intercepted one of her thrusts, Kuvira was tossed over the side of the cannon. She managed to hold on, however, by bending the tip of her blade into a hook and swing herself underneath the railing and into Suyin, knocking her down. Bending her sword into a whip, Kuvira caught Suyin's left wrist and smacked her down, proceeding to immediately propel the older woman against the loading barrel of the cannon, before launching her off the machine altogether. Kuvira subsequently watched how her soldiers gained the upper hand against Lin, Suyin, Wei, and Wing, though was shocked to see her force defeated by one attack of Toph, who accused her of giving metalbenders a bad name. Kuvira watched as the Beifong family, Bolin, and Zhu Li made their escape on Juicy.
Conquering Republic City
After the successful test of her spirit energy cannon, Kuvira had the weapon be attached to the right arm of an enormous mecha suit in order to facilitate easy transportation. She returned to Zaofu, where she addressed her troops, thanking them for all their hard work for the past three years. However, she noted that their quest to truly reunite the Earth Empire was not yet complete, as they still needed to reclaim the United Republic of Nations, believing the land to have been stolen from the Earth Empire by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko following the Hundred Year War. As she finished her speech, she retreated with Baatar Jr. out of sight, where she thanked him for all his support, noting that she could have never achieved her goals without his help and looked forward to marrying him after they claimed victory over Republic City.
Although she initially intended to attack Republic City two weeks later, Kuvira launched her invasion a week before schedule, realizing that Zhu Li, who knew about their plans, had warned the United Republic. She piloted the enormous mecha suit carrying the spirit energy cannon herself and used it to destroy a military outpost of the United Republic, preventing the troops there to give away their position. Only a few hours away from Republic City, Kuvira was alerted by one of her technicians about the presence of a flying bison and, deducing it was Team Avatar, immediately took aim at them. After missing twice, she was content with letting the team flee back to Republic City, confident that even without the element of surprise, no one could stop them.
Arriving at Republic City, Kuvira brushed off President Raiko's demand that she retreated with her army, noting that he was in no position to order her. To emphasize her words, she used the power of her spirit energy cannon to sink the United Forces battleships in a matter of seconds. Subsequently aiming her weapon at the United Forces ground troops, she gave Raiko three seconds to surrender, lest she would wipe out his army. As he surrendered the city, Kuvira also ordered him to turn over his army and the Avatar to her, as well as notifying Baatar Jr. of his location, so Baatar Jr. could present him with the terms of the Earth Empire.
When Kuvira contacted her fiancé to check in on his progress, she was told by Raiko that Baatar Jr. had failed to show up at Air Temple Island. She was shocked to receive a call from Baatar Jr. moments later, who revealed that he had been captured. She was glad to know that he was unharmed, though upon learning that Avatar Korra was with him, she ordered one of her technicians to trace the radio signal to its original location. Baatar Jr. pleaded with her to cease her conquest of the United Republic of Nations, because if she would continue, Korra would refuse to let him go, keeping them apart forever. As her technician identified Baatar Jr. and Korra's position, Kuvira agreed with her fiancé that Republic City was not worth sacrificing their life together and told Baatar Jr. she loved him. Steeling herself for her next action, she took aim at the Future Industries factory where he and Korra were located and blew it up with the spirit energy cannon.
Kuvira subsequently marched her army inside the city, ordering her troops to round up all the citizens they could find. When several airbenders approached her enormous suit, she fired the spirit energy cannon at them and tried to swat them away, though could not prevent them from eventually reaching her machine and drop paint balloons on its windows, obscuring her vision. As such, she was caught off guard when Bolin used his lavabending to slightly sink the left foot of her mecha suit, Wei and Wing tied its legs with metal cables, and Korra and the other airbenders blasted her machine with air currents in an attempt to knock it off balance. After cleaning the glass, she retaliated by firing wildly at Korra, who ducked underneath the beam, causing it to destroy several of the city's buildings. Although the suit was pushed back, Kuvira managed to regain control and balance it, enabling herself to fire a clean shot at the airbenders. Although she failed to kill anyone, she forced the defenders to retreat and was able to continue her conquest of the city. Noticing that two of her mecha platoons had suddenly shut down, Kuvira asked what had caused the malfunction and was told that they had been hit by an electromagnetic pulse, though was assured that the power core of the enormous suit was left unaffected. She ordered one of her technicians to locate the origin of the pulse, deducing it would lead them to Varrick's location, and signaled her third and fourth mecha platoons to move in and continue the sweep of the city, capturing everyone they found.
When she was later informed that the source of the electromagnetic pulse was Future Industries Tower, Kuvira marched her enormous mecha suit toward the building, though found her path blocked by Korra, Mako, Bolin, Lin, Suyin, Wei, and Wing. She instantly fired at the Avatar, though upon missing, she was barraged with several large chunks of earth. When she fired again, she was taken by surprise by an aerial attack from Tenzin, Jinora, Ikki, Meelo, Bumi, Daw, Kai, and another female airbender, who pushed the weaponized arm of her suit down with a tornado, causing her to fire at the ground and stagger backward due to the backlash. Regaining her balance within the suit, Kuvira was taken aback when she saw Meelo breathing on the windows of the suit, though swiftly recovered and tried to squash him. As he flew away, she fired the spirit energy cannon at him and although he evaded its beam, she nearly took down Tenzin and Jinora instead. Continuing her advance toward Future Industries Tower, she gasped in shock when Bolin, Lin, and Suyin collapsed the top stories of a building atop her suit. Although she tried to push it back, she was unable to stop it and was buried underneath the rubble. Kuvira was able to erect her machine again, however, much to the defenders' shock. When Wei and Wing tried to bury her again with another building, she thwarted their attack by severing their metal cables with an energy beam, causing them to plummet down.
Before she could reach Future Industries Tower, Kuvira noticed that two hummingbird mecha suits were incoming and instantly shot at them. Having missed, she noticed that one of the suits had landed on the back of her machine and promptly moved to crush it, only narrowly missing her target. When the other suit landed on her machine's right thigh, she attacked again, though once again failed to crush it. Despite her inability to shake the small hummingbird suits, Kuvira prevented them from landing and causing damage by continuously lashing out at them. She was thwarted in her endeavor, however, when Korra used water from a nearby canal to encase her mecha suit in ice. With only her right arm still at her disposal, Kuvira managed to shoot the wing off Varrick and Zhu Li's suit, though soon found the limb also encased in ice. Noticing Asami and Hiroshi Sato's mecha suit having landed on her machine's thigh and started welding, she called out to her technicians that they needed to increase the power of the suit, so she was able to free herself. Kuvira eventually managed to break through the ice and crushed the small suit, killing Hiroshi in the process, though she was too late to prevent him from welding a hole in her platinum armor. When Korra, Bolin, Mako, Suyin, and Lin made a dash for the opening, she tried to crush them as well, though found her attack thwarted by Korra's waterbending once again and was thus unable to stop them from entering her machine.
With now an arm free, Kuvira quickly destroyed the remaining ice on her mecha suit and ordered her technicians to initiate a lockdown and to find the Avatar and whoever else was with her. When she was alerted that the loading mechanism of the spirit energy cannon was malfunctioning, Kuvira corrected the technician that it was no malfunction but foul play, as she could feel someone metalbending inside the arm. She tried to bend the limb in order to shake the people there, though when she lost the connection, she opted to rip the arm off entirely instead, tossing it and the now useless cannon attached to it away. Kuvira was surprised when Korra forced open the hatch to the cockpit and immediately took down the two soldiers she had up there with her with a powerful gust of air. When the Avatar assaulted her with a fire blast, she managed to avoid it and retaliated with liquid metal, though Korra was able to deflect it and sent it back at her, knocking her down by solidifying the liquid at the last moment. After trading several blows, both women switching between offense and defense, their duel was interrupted when the enormous suit exploded from within, throwing the top half in which they were fighting against a building, where it fell down several stories.
Supported by Korra, Kuvira was helped out of the suit's cockpit and laid down on the ground. When Korra sternly told her that it was over and that she needed to call off her army and surrender to President Raiko, Kuvira launched a rock at the Avatar, knocking her down. By the time Korra had risen to her feet again, Kuvira had vanished inside the Spirit Wilds. Staggering around, she heard Korra call to her that she should give up, though only muttered an answer to herself, stating that she would never do such a thing. She eventually found the spirit energy cannon that had been thrown inside the forest suspended in the air with vines and called to Korra that if the young woman really wanted to end it, she needed to come find her. When Korra burst through the vegetation and ended up in front of the weapon's barrel, Kuvira fired at her, ignoring the Avatar's warning not to do so. She was surprised to find the weapon interacting with the energy of the surrounding vines and it soon spun out of control, forcing Kuvira to hang on for life. She failed to manually shut the weapon down and was thrown free. Kuvira helplessly looked on when the energy beam threatened to kill her, though was surprised to find Korra jumping in front of her and holding the beam at bay, though the enormous surge of energy expanded around them and exploded.
When Kuvira regained consciousness, she found herself in Korra's arms and pushed her down in her haste to get away. Noticing their surroundings, she asked Korra what happened and if they were dead, to which she was told that the energy from the cannon had torn open a new passage to the Spirit World and had blasted them in there. Confused, she demanded to know why Korra would risk her life to save her after everything she had put her through, though when the Avatar explained that she saw a lot of herself in her, she denounced the likeness. Kuvira mused that nothing went as she had desired, noting that none of it would have happened if Korra and her allies had all just surrendered. When Korra countered that she had brought it all on herself by tampering with the spirit vines and acting like a dictator, Kuvira snapped at her, stating that she had been merely trying to help her people, since Suyin had turned her back on them and the Avatar had been absent. She bit at Korra that she could not possibly understand her, since the Avatar was adored by millions whereas she had been abandoned by her own parents as if she had meant nothing to them and declared that she had to prevent the same thing from happening to her nation when it needed someone to guide it. Kuvira softened, however, when Korra sympathized with her desire to create a place where she and her people would never be vulnerable again, disclosing that she understood how it felt to live in fear as she would have done anything to feel in control again after having been poisoned by Zaheer.
Kuvira was supported out of the Spirit World by Korra, where they were immediately faced by Team Avatar and a platoon of mecha suits. When the Earth Empire sergeant demanded her release, Kuvira ordered her soldiers to stand down while she herself surrendered, acknowledging that the Avatar had saved her life and possessed a power beyond what she could ever hope to achieve. Resigning herself to whatever punishment the world deemed appropriate for her, she let herself be handcuffed by Lin. Kuvira apologized to Suyin for all the anguish she had caused her and her family, before willingly letting herself be escorted away by the Beifong sisters.
Three months after her surrender, and following Zhu Li's election as president of the United Republic, Kuvira was brought before a special tribunal in Republic City to stand trial for the crimes she committed as leader of the Earth Empire. Addressing the five judges after the charges against her were read out and she was asked for her plea, Kuvira apologized for the harm she had done to the people of the Earth Kingdom and Republic City, but accused the tribunal of ignoring her achievements and overemphasizing her crimes. She told the court that she had restored order to the Earth Kingdom and dragged it out of the dark ages, and declared that everything she had done had been for the good of the Earth Kingdom and its people. When asked for her plea again, Kuvira claimed that she was not guilty.
After the tribunal session was concluded, Kuvira was led out of the courtroom by two Order of the White Lotus members, where she was confronted by Suyin, who had attended the session and was incredulous that Kuvira would attempt to plead innocence when the whole world knew what she had done. Kuvira acknowledged the hurt she had caused the Beifong family, but claimed that they had turned their backs on her long before she formed the Earth Empire, and that despite Suyin giving her a home and providing for her, she was never really part of the Beifong family. When Suyin brought up Kuvira's invasion of Zaofu and her attempted killing of Baatar Jr., Kuvira replied that she had apologized for these actions numerous times and asked when Suyin was going to see through her anger and forgive her. Suyin told her that being sorry was not enough, and that she needed to take responsibility for what she had done, before leaving.
Kuvira was returned to her prison cell following these events. She would later be visited by Korra, her first visitor since her imprisonment, with the Avatar seeking help on what to do about Commander Guan, who she feared was planning to sabotage the Earth Kingdom's new democratic election in the State of Gaoling. When asked what she would do in such a situation, Kuvira suggested that Korra take someone who had Guan's respect and who he would listen to, namely herself. When Korra realized this, Kuvira warned her that Guan would not accept orders from the Avatar, and claimed that she could convince him to stand down if allowed to meet with him. Korra refused to release Kuvira, claiming that she could handle Guan without her, and left the cell as Kuvira told her to think over the offer, and that she would be there when Korra inevitably needed her help.
As Kuvira predicted, Korra returned to the cell with papers for Kuvira's temporary release, having discussed the matter with the rest of Team Avatar, as well as Zhu Li and King Wu. Kuvira was released into Korra's custody, and as the two women boarded the airship that would take them to Gaoling town, Kuvira tried to convince Korra to be less formal with her now that they were "partners", but Korra warned that the two of them were merely working together, and not teammates. Further, she told Kuvira that she would not hesitate to take her down if she attacked Korra's friends or stepped out of line, a condition that Kuvira accepted with a smile, assuring Korra that she was in charge. Entering the airship's cabin, Kuvira was greeted with hostility from the other members of Team Avatar and King Wu, all of whom had their own grievances with her as a result of the Earth Empire's actions, with Asami attempting to lock her inside a platinum pod. Kuvira assured Asami that she had no intention of trying to escape, and Korra convinced her girlfriend to relent, though Asami insisted that she wouldn't take her eyes off Kuvira. The former Great Uniter then remarked to Mako, Bolin and Wu that she was happy to see them too, in response to their silence towards her.
Three days later, the group arrived in Gaoling and waited for Guan to make his move. Korra and Wu left to see Mayor Rhee, while Kuvira borrowed some of Asami's clothes to make herself more presentable for when she met Guan, the others staying to keep watch over her. As she changed and prepared, Kuvira remarked to Asami that it must be difficult being Korra's girlfriend, saying that Asami could have been running her company or inventing machinery instead of having to guard her. Asami replied that she was happy to do so to protect her girlfriend from Kuvira, and warned the other woman that she would not drive a wedge between the couple, but Kuvira answered that she was merely admiring the group's camaraderie, which was something she claimed to have never had in her life. Bolin told her that this was because she had always pushed people away in the past, having been told by Opal that Kuvira had rejected her attempts at friendship when they were growing up. Kuvira however told him not to believe everything that Opal said, and that her childhood had been very different to Opal's. She insisted that she was a different person than she was three months ago, but Asami replied that while she believed people could redeem themselves, it wasn't something that happened overnight.
The discussion was then interrupted by Korra calling to inform them that Guan and his army had arrived, and the four of them set off towards the capital in a jeep. Arriving at a standoff between Korra and Guan, Kuvira tried to persuade her former commander to surrender, only to learn that he had abandoned his former loyalty towards her following her surrender to Korra, which he considered an act of betrayal. He told her that there was much more that the Earth Empire could accomplish, and that they should not allow others to reap the rewards of what they had done. Kuvira told him that there was nothing but death and destruction along the path he wanted to take, and that the Earth Empire had nevertheless been defeated, with Guan's army merely a weakened remnant that wrongly believed the Earth Empire had a future. She then tried to appeal to the soldiers themselves, only to find that their loyalty now lay with Guan and not her. She then offered to settle the matter with a duel, but Guan told her that he wasn't going to fall for her ploy, and that she was nothing but a spineless coward.
Finally accepting that Guan would not give up willingly, Kuvira used her bending to throw him off his feet, and then to strangle him with his metal collar in order to force him to surrender. Guan's soldiers ordered her to release him as Korra tried to get her to do the same, but before the situation could escalate further, Kuvira was suddenly electrocuted into unconsciousness by remotely activated electrodes secretly built into her belt, courtesy of Asami. Korra had Mako and Bolin put the unconscious Kuvira in the jeep and drive her back to the airship, intending to deal with her later.
When Kuvira woke up, she was back on the airship and inside the platinum pod. Korra and Asami explained that this was to help her cool down, and prevent her doing anything else foolhardy. After learning that Guan had entered himself in the election, and that King Wu was unwilling to call it off to prevent him winning, Kuvira suggested that they beat Guan at his own game by presenting a candidate more popular than him, which led to Korra suggesting that they recruit Toph.
Reunion with Suyin
With Team Avatar unable to return Kuvira to Republic City in time for the election, she remained imprisoned onboard the airship while Korra and Wu journeyed to the Foggy Swamp to recruit Toph, with the plan being to imprison her in Zaofu when they returned, until the election was over. While Korra and Wu were gone, Guan's men attacked the airship. Kuvira asked Asami to set her free during the battle, offering to help them, but Asami was unwilling to trust Kuvira and refused, and everyone on the airship was captured.
Kuvira and the others were taken to Guan's base, where Guan spoke with her in private and asked if she was willing to serve the Earth Empire again. Kuvira refused, telling Guan that she did not serve Korra despite what he thought, and that she wouldn't serve him. In response, Guan revealed that he had hooked up Asami, Mako and Bolin to brainwashing equipment, and that Dr Sheng, another former subordinate of Kuvira's, had developed a new and improved method of the technique with the aid of modern technology. Disgusted, Kuvira made clear that she would never have tolerated such things had she known about them in the past, but Dr Sheng reminded her that she hadn't cared how her followers achieved their goals before. Kuvira denied this, saying that she had always wanted to motivate others to change their ways through strength and leadership, rather than with a machine, and Guan suggested that Kuvira would change her mind after seeing the brainwashing procedure for herself, ordering Dr Sheng to start it despite Kuvira's plea. Before the brainwashing begun, Kuvira told Asami that she had never intended any of what had happened.
Once Asami, Mako and Bolin had been brainwashed, Guan ordered them to hook Kuvira up to the machinery, intending to brainwash her as well. Upon being taken out of the platinum pod, Kuvira seized her chance to escape, overpowering Korra's friends and Guan before disguising herself as one of Guan's soldiers and leaving the camp in a jeep. While spying on the camp later that night, she recalled how Suyin had been there for her when her father left her at the gate of Zaofu, and contacted her via radio to ask her help. When Suyin expressed skepticism over Kuvira's claims of brainwashing, Kuvira revealed that Korra and Wu were currently looking for Toph, and acknowledged that her former adoptive mother had every reason to hate her, before admitting that she didn't know anyone else who could help her, convincing Suyin to come to her aid.
Described by Suyin Beifong as a complicated person, traumatized by being abandoned by her own parents as a child, Kuvira was driven by a fierce desire to protect and guide the citizens of the Earth Kingdom and persistent on achieving national unity through the use of military force. Her willingness to usher in an age of solidarity and collective well-being was further nurtured by Suyin's progressive ideology, to which she was exposed from early childhood.
During her time in Zaofu, Kuvira was generally a caring person with a warm disposition, loyal and obedient to authority, following orders from her former superiors with no protest. However, during her campaign to restore order, her demeanor changed to one of self-righteousness and she demonstrates a capacity to be aggressive to those who defy her or criticize her motives, having threatened to leave a group of bandits to die on a train rail were they to decline her offer to serve her, as well as having threatened Varrick's life when he refused to continue his spirit vine experiments. In addition, she did not hesitate to leave the capital of Yi without providing aid to its impoverished citizens when she was disrespected by the state's governor, whom she berated for failing to put his citizens' needs ahead of his own pride. Kuvira is persuasive and capable of convincing state leaders into pledging their allegiance to her, but is also proficient in the use of intimidation if individuals refuse to comply with her requests.
Ultimately, Kuvira came to believe that giving control of the Earth Kingdom to someone based on lineage was archaic, believing that she was more suited to govern the nation. Her relentlessness in reuniting the Earth Kingdom has become a goal that justifies all the means that she deems necessary to achieve it, which included forcing citizens into slave labor, removing dissenters and people not from Earth Kingdom descent to reeducation camps, and experimenting with weapons of mass destruction, like the spirit vine technology. Her confidence in her own right and skill stretched to the point where she challenged Korra to a duel in order to prevent an all out battle and possibly risk the lives of her soldiers, displaying both her personal bravery and a certain loyalty toward her army. Though she usually possessed a calm and serious composure, she was shown to be short-tempered and became agitated and hostile when provoked or threatened, such as when she was heavily criticized by the governor of Yi and her former subordinate Guan, or when her giant mecha suit was being breached by the Satos. It has also been noted by Suyin that Kuvira refuses to take responsibility for her own actions and believes her achievements outweigh her mistakes. Kuvira herself repeatedly stated that she regretted some of her actions, but ultimately regarded the Earth Empire as great project which improved the lifes of the people of the Earth Kingdom. Accordingly, she has remained loyal to the Earth Empire's authoritarian ideology even after her defeat and showed no respect or sympathy for democracy.
Despite all that, Kuvira has also shown a softer side to her personality during her private time, urging Opal to reconcile with her family and gently easing Bolin's fears as to her intentions. She is welcoming to her allies and fans. She has also shown the capacity to forgive those who are loyal to her. However, Kuvira is willing to sacrifice anyone to achieve her goals, as demonstrated when she decided to blow up the factory where her fiancé was kept to have a chance at taking out Avatar Korra. Nevertheless, she believes that all of her actions are ultimately aimed at improving the lifes of the Earth Kingdom's citizens. Thus, she is willing to sacrifice individuals and even entire groups, but is not ready to risk the welfare of the majority.
Kuvira is an earthbending master, able to manipulate large amounts of earth and rocks to suit her needs. Her prowess is recognized by skilled earthbenders, such as Suyin, and other people who have seen her in action before, such as Opal.
Kuvira displays mastery in the use of metalbending, capable of traversing several terrains and climbing large mountainsides with relative ease using metal cables. She also demonstrates considerable physical strength, having been able to grip Tonraq with a cable and support his weight. Coupled with incredible accuracy and agility, Kuvira can subdue several dozen opponents simultaneously by covering their eyes and binding their limbs with metal strips, allowing her to toss opponents around with little difficulty. She can also easily fashion an assortment of weapons from a little metal, such as knives, swords, and whips. Kuvira has demonstrated the ability to sense when others are performing metalbending in her vicinity.
Kuvira is a smart and natural leader, as evident by her service as captain of the guard in Zaofu and further by her accomplishments as the "Great Uniter". She is also shown to be a charismatic and effective public speaker, instilling great respect in her followers. She is capable of engaging in persuasive negotiation, but can also employ intimidation in order to convince state leaders into pledging their allegiance to her and her cause. Using these abilities, Kuvira has managed to bring all Earth Kingdom states into her control, earning her a fierce reputation in the Earth Kingdom.
As a former member of Suyin's dance troupe, she is able to maintain balance and posture while swinging down a metal cable. Kuvira is also agile, a skill that allows her to evade attacks in battle with no wasted movement. In addition, this acrobatic background allows her to utilize a dynamic fighting style involving rapid shifts between offense and defense.
- Kuvira is a Hindi name meaning "courageous woman", befitting her personality.
- Kuvira's image was on the back of the newspaper Lin Beifong was reading in Zaofu. The text below her picture read  , meaning "security team".
- Kuvira is the first female primary antagonist in The Legend of Korra.
- Kuvira is also the first primary antagonist of one book in The Legend of Korra to debut in an earlier book.
- Kuvira's character resembles her voice actress, Zelda Williams. Interestingly, Zelda's mother also has a beauty mark on her cheek similar to Kuvira's.
- Kuvira is Bryan Konietzko's favorite villain.
- Kuvira was purposely designed to be similar to Korra in height, build, and personality traits, as to make it so that "Korra has to deal with overcoming a version of her past self".
- Like Earth Queen Hou-Ting, Kuvira regards the United Republic of Nations as Earth Kingdom territory.
Hou-Ting (as Earth Queen)
|Interim President of the Earth Kingdom|
171 — 174 AG
| Succeeded by|
Wu (as Earth King)
|Leader of Zaofu|
| Succeeded by|
Unknown, eventually King Bumi
|Ruler of Omashu|
| Succeeded by|