Cosplay

Avatar: The Last Airbender cosplayer smolders as scarred Zuko

by Theo Salaun
Instagram, @angryroni / Nickelodeon

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Fire Lord Zuko is hot-headed and a little insecure about his scar. A cosplayer, ‘angryroni,’ has brought Zuko into 2020 with a moody, lustrous look that rocks his iconic scar proudly. 

When you first meet Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, he is a hot-headed, dishonored antagonist who wants nothing more than to earn his father’s praise. By the end, he has grown and learned to value himself. Had he mastered makeup as gracefully as angryroni, maybe he would have valued his pensive look and statement scar a little sooner.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5b68Ar-Mlc

Avatar is back in the limelight this year, especially now with Netflix upping the series’ quality to HD. The cartoon classic is fine art, practically untouchable and communally adored—to the extent that it’s honestly impressive the M. Night Shyamalan-directed live-action film even got to 5 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Unlike Shyamalan’s historic failure, angryroni chose to lean into Zuko’s signature characteristics instead of pushing away from them in some misguided effort to achieve realism. Like the stark colorful contrasts of the animated series, angryroni uses makeup to accentuate the Fire Lord’s vibrant eyes and captivating scar.

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Highlighting the obvious attention to detail for Zuko’s face, achieved with contrasting makeup, angryroni frames the look with a wig that is perfectly raggedy—suiting the moppy hairstyle that embodied the character’s tumultuous internal development. 

The failure of Shyamalan’s effort can’t solely be placed on his shoulders, just as Zuko can’t be entirely faulted for being a jerk for much of the series. It’s hard to be a quality person when your dad is evil and, similarly, it’s hard to make a great reboot of a series that is already such an infallible icon. 

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But Shyamalan tried and we were left with a tattered Zuko, devoid of his signature, glowing honey eyes or aesthetically dominant scar. No matter how true to his personality the actor, Dev Patel, could be, this Zuko incarnation proves why angryroni's is such a success. The best Fire Lord look is one that brings out the character's muted heat, reflecting his internal passion and struggle with a heated palette juxtaposed against muted expressions.

What angryroni does here is distinct and, ultimately, superior. Instead of shying away from Zuko’s look, he amplifies it. The burgundy outfit, lined with shining gold, is excellent—but it’s the exaggerated facial features, rather than expressions, that make this a captivating cosplay.

Funnily enough, even the poorly lip-synced Tik Toks of songs and dialogue feel like Zuko too. A moody teenager dealing with emotional development? Of course he’d be dropping pensive videos with a dangling earring in 2020.

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