The complex characterizations in Avatar: The Last Airbender meant that even frequent foes could become fated friends, and if there was any proof that antagonism could turn into an alliance, it was in the relationship between Zuko and Katara. The two started from a place of utter animosity and forged a valuable bond, but apparently, there are still plenty of fans on Twitter curious about who would win were the two to square off.
Fans weighed in over the weekend with their chosen combatants to the point that #Katara and #Zuko were trending on the social media site. But when you set the fan favoritism aside and look at the facts who would really win in a duel between the two?
When comparing the two Benders it's important to note that a faceoff between the two is not without precedent. The crown prince banished by his father hounded Katara endlessly during the series' first season on his quest to find the Avatar and restore his honor. While Zuko had elite training under the supervision of one of the greatest Firebenders in the world, his uncle Iroh, Katara was a determined prodigy eager to learn and dogged in her devotion to practice. That's what made their first clash so epic.
In the finale to the first season, the two squared off at the North Pole where the advantage largely boiled down to the time of day. Whereas Waterbending draws power from the moon and is strongest at night, Zuko's power "rises with the Sun" and he swiftly freed himself from Katara's icy prison and downed the Waterbender with an overwhelming blast of flame. After Zuko exhausted himself carrying Aang through a blizzard, Katara returned the favor and downed Zuko with a simple attack of snow. But both Benders came a long way in their abilities since that early fight.
For Zuko, much of his process of improvement involved discovering the truths of ancient Firebending. He learned to draw his power from his passion for life rather than his anger and hatred. Over the course of the series, he went from helplessly floundering against his sister Azula to matching her blow for blow and eventually even overcoming her. Given Zuko's ability to slap arrows out of the air and even smash iron with his kicks he proved to be one of the most formidable physical forces as well, and his talents with the broadsword were almost uncontested.
Katara gained skills of her own, however. She could even wield powerful bloodbending during a full moon to turn foes' bodies against them, and even in broad daylight hurled tidal waves and icy spears at her opponents that could devastate almost anyone. In terms of raw power, it seems she exceeded even her Master Pakku by the series' end, and when it came to the skill she was one of the only characters to consistently get the better of Azula every time they faced-off. The last time, she even did so while Azula's power was amplified by Sozin's Comet.
It's that last comparison that makes the winner of a fight between Zuko and Katara clear. Whereas Zuko could only ever match Azula -- including during Sozin's Comet when both Firebenders enjoyed an immense power boost -- Katara was able to overcome the talented princess twice. In the Crystal Catacombs beneath Ba Sing Se, Katara trapped Azula's limbs in watery tendrils, and in their final fight, Katara froze the Firebender in solid ice before chaining up her limbs. The gap between Katara and Zuko is just too wide.
Zuko's inferiority to Azula was always a major part of the character and proved to be a driving force behind his development throughout the series. As much as some fans may favor the scarred prince on Twitter, there is just too much of a gap between him and Katara to overcome her in a duel. It would be a stunning battle to see, but in the end, Katara makes the fight a total wash.