While Raya may not have mastery over the four elements, she and her story will clearly be marked by a Korra-like tenacity and strength
Since the trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon dropped online, viewers were quick to point out the upcoming film’s seeming similarities to The Legend of Korra. Set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, the upcoming Disney film is said to follow its titular heroine as she searches for the only surviving mystical creature able to restore peace between its combatting factions, a storyline that would fit neatly into the Avatar universe.
To start with, Raya’s character design bears striking similarities to Korra’s. In the trailer, the warrior in a light blue outfit, has a high ponytail accompanied by two pigtails, and carries herself with confidence of a well-trained warrior, utilizing impressive combat abilities punctuated with the application of gracefully fluid martial arts. All of that is reminiscent of Avatar Korra.
Korra wears a similar outfit that comes from the Southern Water Tribe and is known for her pigtail hairstyle. In addition to their parallel visual designs and movement styles, though, Raya and Korra seemingly share many character traits. Korra is well-known for her determination and toughness, having used it to bravely overcome even the most frightening of antagonists. During Raya’s introduction in the trailer, she displays her own Korra-like grit, scaling buildings and making her way past dangerous obstacles before courageously taking on her own masked foe. Further still, both characters appear motivated by their own predestined role of bringing peace to their perspective worlds by engaging with their own in-universe mythologies – Korra effectively bridges the human and spirit worlds and Raya is tasked with locating the last surviving dragon.
There is also significant overlap in terms of world-building, particularly as it applies to aesthetic and thematic material. Raya and the Last Dragon, like The Legend of Korra, draws from traditional Southeast Asian culture and accompanying religious practices to enhance its story. In the World of Avatar, much of the in-universe mythology celebrates Hindi and Buddhist cultures, featuring familiar trappings such as meditative reflection, the pursuit of enlightenment, and rebirth (the Avatar’s own reincarnation process).
Both stories seem to involve four separate tribes. In the Avatar Universe, the four bending styles – air, fire, water, and earth – correspond to four distinct cultures, which often come into conflict with one another. In Raya and the Last Dragon, there is a sequence in which the camera pans to four different tribes, as Raya’s narration states, “The world has changed and its people are divided.” As in the The Legend of Korra, this division will likely serve as the catalyst for the hero’s desire to bring peace and balance to her world.