Avatar: Could the Gaang Beat the White Lotus?

One of the most exciting moments in Avatar: The Last Airbender came when the core group of main characters, known as the Gaang, reunited with their old masters -- all of whom were revealed to be part of the same secret society known as the Order of the White Lotus.

With the two groups gathered together, what was assembled were many of the greatest Benders in the world, and it was only with all of them united behind the same cause that the Hundred Years War could end and peace could be restored to the world at last. But what if they weren't united? If the Gaang were to square off in combat against the White Lotus, which would truly come out on top?

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It's first of all important to pin down the rosters at hand. The Gaang consists of Avatar Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Zuko and Suki, whereas the White Lotus is made up of Iroh, Bumi, Jeong Jeong, Pakku, and Piandao. With so many colossally powerful Benders at play, the numbers advantage of two nonbenders for the Gaang should be largely immaterial, but it's worth getting out of the way that the only way to consider the fight fair is to restrict Aang to not being able to access his Avatar State. With all that in mind, not only is the fight clearly very even, but there are even several duels between members of each group that show how it may go.

The first to happen in the series was between Bumi and Aang, occurring during a test with the earthbending King of Omashu sought to explore the Avatar's abilities. Aang was still in the fledgling stages of his career as an Avatar and had yet to access any of the other elements, but even with airbending alone, he did an admirable job. Still, it's worth considering that Bumi was likely holding back given his later showings of tossing entire buildings and liberating Omashu singlehanded. Bumi also faced off against Toph in a test to decide the greatest Earthbender of all time, but both characters held back in that fight as well and it ended inconclusively.

Perhaps more helpful in comparing the fighters' abilities is Katara's duel with Pakku and Sokka's duel with Piandao. Once again, there's a clear sense that the old masters were holding back and that the young fighters were not at the height of their potential, but in both cases, it was clear that the White Lotus members had a firm hand on the proceedings of the duel. Katara's power increased enormously since her Season 1 duel, and with Sokka fighting in tandem with Suki, he would do considerably better. However, Piandao was said to have defeated 100 Fire Nation soldiers in battle singlehanded, so the swordsman clearly knows how to deal with numbers advantages.

Though Zuko never fought Iroh or Jeong Jeong there's really very little question about how much more powerful the older Benders are than the young Fire Prince. During Sozin's Comet Iroh released a blast that destroyed the massive outer wall of Ba Sing Se while Jeong Jeong conducted a column of fire as large as a street that stacked up enemy tanks as he maintained himself on a jet in the air. By comparison, Zuko's large fire spouts just don't compare, and even outside the Comet, Iroh's ability to produce lightning and Jeong Jeong's to create a massive wall of fire outshine anything Zuko accomplished. So, how do the two teams compare, altogether?

In the end, it's just too hard to see an edge for Team Avatar beyond a slight numbers advantage and Aang's ability to wield multiple elements. Although Katara and Toph are debatably stronger Benders than Pakku and Bumi, the lack of meaningful defenses from Iroh and Jeong Jeong would be devastating in a battle where it really mattered.

The sheer enormity of many of the White Lotus' feats are just too hard to beat, and it goes to show that as powerful as the Gaang may be, they still had a whole lot of growing up to do before they were as mighty as their masters.

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