Avatar’s Sokka Versus Voltron’s Lance

Not too long ago, I used to write a lot about Voltron. The show ended in 2018, but it seems I’ve never been able to let go of how they treated my favorite character, Lance.

Eyebrow Voltron GIF - Eyebrow Voltron Lance - Discover & Share GIFs

For those who managed to avoid the crapstorm, Lance was a flirty but sweet person who wanted to become a renown pilot and date one of his teammates, the Altean Princess Allura.

In my mind, he let go of Allura after realizing she was in love with someone else and focused on improving his skills. He became a great leader and lived a fulfilling life. Just for fun, he also piloted the Black Lion, was secretly a genius, and was half-Altean.

In total, only one of the things I mentioned happened and it was the most improbable one: he became Altean. But even that was halfway done, because while he got the traditional Altean marks, he was still human.

Voltron left Lance as a rebound lover with no lover, no accomplishment or career as a pilot, and a reputation as someone who’d forever be known as “the stupid one”.

To say his demise crushed my soul would be an understatement.

Anyway, enter Avatar: The Last Airbender. Or more specifically, Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe.

Sokka's gettin real tired of yo shit - GIF on Imgur

I’d seen people compare Lance to Sokka multiple times, but it wasn’t until after Voltron ended that I took that comparison seriously.

I saw a clip of Sokka and was internally tearing up because, oh my gosh.

He was Lance.

Lance from a different show in different time period, but it was him!

Sokka wore blue and was POC. He flirted with girls and craved to be the leader. He experienced low self esteem about not being as talented as his teammates. Lance and Sokka have very different backgrounds, but the similarities were undeniable.

I came into the show looking for Lance’s redemption and I got it.

Avatar’s an amazing show all around, but the way they handled its characters was a revelation. One could even say, a cultural reset.

Sokka started out exactly how one would think: sexist with an overestimation of his own abilities. He was annoyingly sarcastic and it’d be very easy to dislike him right from the gate.

As the show went on, I was continually surprised by how much they did with his character. He quickly shed off his sexist tendencies thanks to Suki and even though he remained the goofy of the bunch, no one downplayed his abilities.

In Voltron, Lance isn’t the brightest. Pidge is intellectually leaps and bounds ahead of him and the skills of the others outmatch his own.

Because Team Voltron has Pidge, they don’t need someone else making important scientific decisions. Because they have Shiro and Keith, they don’t need help fighting the most dangerous villains. Because they have Allura and Hunk, they’ve got all the bases for mechanics and diplomacy covered.

All Lance has to his name is his practically non-existent broadsword and rarely showcased sharpshooting.

He once died and no one said a single thing. The show never addressed how he felt about it and Allura, the person who he died sacrificing himself for, seemed to forget as well.

There was a moment in season 7 or 8 where he was able to figure out the team’s location by the positioning of a volcano they were passing. But instead of being impressed, they were all surprised he was smart enough to make the deduction. Somehow, he was still the butt of the joke.

Lance wasn’t lucky in the love department either. He flirted with countless girls, the one he dated died, and he had no idea about the one who had a crush on him the entire time.

⋆probably crying rn⋆ — VLD 4.03: Spoilers ahead for episode 3… I'm sorry...

I was waiting for his moment of truth where he’d be taken seriously, given an important task, and have his doubts erased. It never came. Aside from his feelings about his team, he essentially remained the same character.

Not Sokka.

Water Tribe GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

He was a formidable opponent from the beginning and he only got better as the series progressed. I loved that he was naturally talented with his boomerang (affectionately named “Boomerang”) and took on sword fighting to make up for his short comings. He is also the only male Kyoshi warrior. He went hand to hand with benders and held his own. He’s unable to win against the most powerful benders in the series, but I can’t remember the number of time he’s saved his teammates spur of the moment.

Bottom line, Sokka came into clutch.

He’s also a people person! It seemed like half of the females in the series were attracted to him, which was a nice switch up from the typical lover boy trope. He was pretty critical of those whose ideals seemed strange (ex: the Secret Tunnel guys) but once he got over his suspicions, he welcomed everyone with open arms. This was especially noticeable when Zuko joined the team. Whereas Katara completely shut him out, Sokka made attempt after attempt to show his trust in Zuko. He never once questioned Zuko’s loyalty during the Boiling Rock escapade. Sokka chooses his people carefully.

And no one in the Gaang was “the smart one”. But if there was someone with that title…it was Sokka. The man basically conceptualized submarines! He helped create functioning war balloons, utilized optical illusions, and simulated firebending. This is a world where magic spirits are a thing and Sokka is a man of science.

Even when it seems to be a problem he has no place solving, he figures out a way to turn things to his advantage. He sees the world the way he wants to.

The Legend of Korra/ ATLA: ART!!! | The last airbender, Rainbow drawing,  Avatar
He added a rainbow.

As his master said: he’s creative.

And as some brilliant mind on the Sokka Wiki page said: he’s a nerd! Imagine having a character who’s the comic relief also be one of most skilled hand to hand combatants also be the unironically intelligent nerd?? That’s a dream combination if I ever saw one.

And to top it all off, he’s the de facto leader of the Gaang. In the beginning, Katara disputed his right to be the leader, but whether they knew it or not, he naturally slipped into that position. Everyone played integral parts, but they always acknowledged him as the one to go to for the plan. I really really liked that.

Being the leader of the Gaang wasn’t anyone right or destiny. A lot of things were set by fate: Aang being the Avatar, Zuko joining the team etc. However, the Gaang functioned as a normal team of hodgepodge kids and Sokka was their glue.

He’s the heart of Team Avatar.

Back to Voltron. While it could be argued Lance was the heart of Team Voltron, it could easily be refuted by pointing out Hunk’s existence. Looking at it in retrospect, Hunk received just as little character development as Lance, but Lance’s is more pronounced because you feel like he could’ve played a bigger part. Hunk was objectively the big cuddly guy that everyone was supposed to go for for hugs. That was all his character was good for. Lance had greater potential and it was squandered.

It’s seriously astounding how under baked most of the Voltron cast are in comparison to the main members of the Gaang. Voltron’s either decided to go all out for some characters or leave crumbs for the rest, with no in-between.

In Avatar, though Aang is the hero of the story, everyone is a main character. It’s the found-family show Voltron tried and failed to emulate.

…what’s that you say? The Voltron showrunners also worked on Avatar?

Well…that can’t be canon.

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One thought on “Avatar’s Sokka Versus Voltron’s Lance

  1. Pingback: Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka Isn’t Insecure – Things You Wish You Thought

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