Sokka actor responds to character change backlash in Netflix’s live-action Avatar: "He's still the Sokka we know and love"

Avatar The Last Airbender
(Image credit: Netflix)

The live-action version of Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender is still the character "we know and love" according to actor Ian Ousley – amid fan backlash to the perceived changes from the Nickelodeon cartoon in the upcoming Netflix series.

"The animated show really is the heart and soul of what our live-action show is. We were not trying to take out anything," Ousley tells GamesRadar+.

"Obviously we took out that element, but he still has that attitude. Not a sexist attitude, but it’s morphed into more of – in Sokka and Katara’s relationship – ‘I’m the leader and you’re the follower’ situation. Stuff like that."

Ousley continues, "He’s still the Sokka we know and love from the cartoon. I don’t even think fans would notice some of those things, honestly, [when] watching our show… He definitely still has his arcs and his lessons in the show."

The controversy surrounding Sokka all originates from an interview Ousley gave to Entertainment Weekly

In it, he suggested certain elements of the Water Tribe member’s attitude towards women would be toned down for the live-action adaptation. In the original series, his brash pig-headedness (spoiler) eventually melts away after encountering the female Kyoshi warriors.

"There's more weight with realism in every way," Ousley said at the time. 

Kiawentiio, who plays Katara, added, "I feel like we also took out the element of how sexist [Sokka] was. I feel like there were a lot of moments in the original show that were iffy."

Ousley replied: "Yeah, totally. There are things that were redirected just because it might play a little differently [in live action]."

Avatar: The Last Airbender is streaming on Netflix from February 22. For more, check out the best anime on Netflix, the Avatar's cast experience with the original cartoon, and our guide to the Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1 ending.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.