'Raya and the Last Dragon': Fans Draw Comparisons to 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

Disney is finding its groove again with a slate of upcoming releases, including Raya and the Last Dragon.

After shuffling things around due to the pandemic, the media giant announced its updated schedule of family-oriented features. The animated tale of Raya is another fantasy epic courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Set for a March 2021 release, the film is already drawing comparisons to Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Disney drops trailer for ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

Disney hyped up Raya and the Last Dragon at the D23 Expo in 2019 and the studio just released its trailer on Oct. 21. Starring Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu the dragon, the film centers on a warrior trying to save humanity by seeking out the last dragon.

Raya sets out with her noble sidekick Tuk Tuk on the ultimate quest in a bid to defeat the evil Druun. According to the logline from Walt Disney Studios, she finds the mission isn’t solely about one thing:

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.

Some fans think ‘Raya’ is similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender’ saga

After the official Raya trailer dropped, social media users on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and Instagram began comparing the characters and storyline to The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Some likened Raya’s hair and outfit to those of water benders (Korra and Katara) and noted they are rocking similar garb and hairstyles.

One YouTube commenter joked, “She looks like someone who could waterbend long ago when the four nations lived in harmony, but everything changed when the fire nation attacked.”

A Redditor also stated, “I showed that image with no context to my 7 year old and asked who it was. She said ‘Korra.’ Disney is probably pissed Netflix released this recently, they probably thought they could be slick with this.”

Others pointed out the masked figure in the Raya and the Last Dragon trailer reminded them of Amon in season 1 of Korra or the Blue Spirit. Many thought the idea of having four divided nations who are brought together through a special force is an ATLA thing.

Some Instagram users shared similar thoughts and there are multiple comments mentioning “Avatar vibes” and “Korra.” However, there are those who defended the similarities as common themes in fantasy and folklore.

Audiences are excited about ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

Moviegoers—which include some ATLA fans—are still looking forward to seeing this new Disney fantasy story. Many are praising it for Asian representation.

They noted the weaponry and storytelling stems from traditions found in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Raya and the Last Dragon joins The Eternals, Cruella, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and more for 2021 releases. It’s scheduled to hit theaters on March 21. Fans can then decide how the film stacks up to other stories in the genre.

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