Every show is just as good as its bad guy. While Avatar had plenty of bad guys, from Jet down to Combustion Man, they were all just to keep us waiting for the main Baddie. Azula might have ended up being more of a threat overall, but when it comes to the position of the primary bad guy from the animated series, then no one really takes the cake just like Fire Lord Ozai.
Voiced by legendary actor Mark Hamill, not much was known about the Firelord except for the brief scenes he appeared in at the beginning of the series. However, as short as those scenes were, one thing was clear. Fire Lord Ozai was a brutal ruler, and an even more brutal father; just ask Zuko or Zuko’s mother. While a legendary character, he however was defeated at the supposed height of his career. Still, he remains one very enigmatic character; interesting enough for us to find out exactly what is behind the man that was once the Phoenix King.
The Fire Lord had his face hidden for the entire first season of Avatar. It built up suspense and made you wonder in your head what he looked like. When they did reveal him, you see that he looks pretty normal but has a very demon like voice and smile to him.
1. He is Voiced By Mark Hamill
We already stated this, but it is worth mentioning again. Afterall, no one else could have really captured the menacing voice that Ozai was meant to have. Interestingly, even in silence, Fire Lord Ozai was an imposing figure to anyone who had the misfortune of being around him. At every single point in time, Mark Hamill captured every fiery emotion that Ozai exuded. From the snide lack of affection for his children to his onslaught on the Avatar in the last fight, Hamill portrayed Fire Lord Ozai in the best of villainy forms.
Mark Hamil is also the voice of many other iconic characters like The Joker from Batman the Animated Series. Mark was able to perfectly capture the essence of the character with his voice. He was brutal, straight to the point and he lacked any real emotion. The only thing he cared about was power.
2. Fire Lord Ozai Killed His Father
Yes, you heard that right. Ozai already had a basket full of evil atrocities by the time we first meet him in the show, and one of them was patricide. In fact, this is the only reason he becomes fire lord, as the throne is rightfully Iroh’s. However, when Iroh’s son dies in battle, Ozai approaches their father to make him his heir in his brother’s place. The infuriated Firelord then asks Ozai to sacrifice Zuko as his punishment.
However, in order to save Zuko, Ursa, his mother and Ozai’s wife, propositioned Ozai to poison Firelord Azulon. Ozai saw this as killing two birds with one stone; as he got to have the throne and Zuko got to live. This would have further secured his legacy and made his claim to the throne stronger. So Ozai goes ahead with the plan and kills his father to become Fire Lord Ozai.
3. He Had No Military Experience
Fire Lord Ozai was a powerful firebender no doubt, but he actually had no experience fighting wars. His brother General Iroh was more skilled, having earned his stripes on the battlefield, as well as the respect of the soldiers. Ozai on the other hand was just royalty. In fact, if it weren’t for his scheming and plotting, he might never have qualified for the throne.
You make the assumption in the show that if Azula is so strong, her father must be that much stronger of a bender. But it’s just not true, he rarely if ever had to fight due to his royalty.
4. Fire Lord Ozai’s Reign Was The Shortest
While his father Azulon ruled as fire lord for 75 years, and his grandfather Sozin ruled for 78 years, Fire Lord Ozai ruled as fire lord for a much shorter period of time. He only ruled for just five years, which pales greatly in comparison to the length of time his predecessors ruled. While he did commit a lot of atrocities in his time, it was still the shortest reign in history.
5. He Began The Fire Nation’s Industrial Age
Say what you want, but Ozai was a visionary, albeit a murderous one, it was under his rule that the fire nation really improved technologically, down to the point that by the time Sozin’s comet came again, the fire nation had tanks, boats, airships, and other metal war machinery. In that regard, their technological advancements also extended beyond their military. Let’s not forget that the fire nation was the most progressive and prosperous nation at the time as well, thanks to him catalyzing the situation and making their economy better.
6. Fire Lord Ozai Nearly Took Over the World
So many times we hear a villain say they will conquer the world, but not many succeed at their quest. In fact, a lot of them are very bad at their quests for world domination, but there was something about Fire Lord Ozai.
He actually came very close. With the might of the Fire Nation and their new technological war machines, Ozai painted the world red. The might of the Fire Nation at some point became too much for any nation to stand. Even the once impenetrable Ba Sing Se fell, thanks to good old fashioned trickery and spycraft. It was something even the dragon of the west, Iroh couldn’t do.
Of course, he didn’t do it all by himself. He had his father and grandfather’s reigns to thank, but under his reign, the Fire Nation’s hold on other countries increased. By the third season of the series, the Fire Nation has managed to extend their violent influence to 90 percent of the world. If that’s not impressive, we don’t know what is.
7. He Had A Fan Club
Loyalist is a much better word, but you could still call them a dedicated fan club. Fire Lord Ozai was one of the most popular fire lords ever. This is probably because many of the Fire Nation people agreed with him and helped spread his ideals and vision for the world. You can imagine what they tried to do to reinstate him after his defeat at the hands of Aang.
When Zuko took over as the Fire Lord, Ozai’s loyalists rebelled and wanted to put him back on the throne. They didn’t care that he was now a non-bender. Another interesting fact is that it was Zuko’s father-in-law, Mai’s father Ukano that started this rebellion. And guess what they were called? The New Ozai Society. Of course, they failed, but you have to admit that Ozai still having influence even after his incarceration is a scary thing to behold.
8. Fire Lord Ozai Was A Really Bad Father
This last point is no news. You need only take a look at his children Zuko and Azula to see so. Zuko was such a damaged and lost soul at the end of the series, that it took some divine intervention for him to find his way back to the light. Azula on the other hand was incredibly damaged psychologically. If there is anyone to blame for this, all fingers point at Ozai.