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Why The Mechanist From Netflix's Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender Looks So Familiar

Netflix has finally released the full cast list for its long awaited and much discussed adaptation of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the 2000s-era Nickelodeon series that has been hailed as one of the best animated shows of all time. While the cast includes many exciting names — including "Prey's" Amber Midthunder and sci-fi legend George Takei — almost more exciting is learning the characters that will appear, including the Mechanist.

The Mechanist first appears in the Season 1 episode "The Northern Temple." In this entry, Aang and his friends visit the former Air Nomad temple only to find it has now become home to non-benders and an inventor simply called (you guessed it) the Mechanist. The kindly father is revealed to be reluctantly working for the Fire Nation, designing weapons and vehicles for their military. With Aang's help, he turns on his employers and begins manufacturing tech for Team Avatar. 

Seeing as he goes on to play a key role in the series' final battles, it's great to see that this character will be included early on in the live-action adaptation. What's more, he'll be played by one of TV's most memorable character actors.

You definitely remember Danny Pudi's role on Community

In the Netflix adaptation of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," The Mechanist will be played by Danny Pudi, an actor best known for playing Abed Nadir in the cult classic, genre-bending sitcom "Community."

Produced by celebrated TV creator Dan Harmon ("Rick and Morty"), the series followed a group of community college students as they tried to better themselves while surviving the absurd happenings at Greendale Community College. Abed could be seen as the heart of the group — off-beat, honest to a fault, and incredibly creative, he was ultimately grateful just to finally be a part of something. He shares a sweetly supportive friendship with fellow student Troy, played by future "Atlanta" talent Donald Glover.

Abed was largely responsible for the series' most high-concept episodes. In the Season 3 episode "Remedial Chaos Theory," Abed imagines the different multiversal outcomes created by the mundane and innocuous act of Jeff (Joel McHale) rolling a six-sided die. The "chaos" that ensues gave way to one of the best half-hour comedy episodes ever seen, creating an iconic meme in the process and arguably popularizing the concept of "the darkest timeline." Entertainment Weekly ranked it as the best "Community" episode altogether.

Other iconic Abed-centric episodes include "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas," "Pillows and Blankets," and the wildly underrated "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples." 

Danny Pudi had a run-in with Captain America

Possibly one of Pudi's most widely seen roles is also one of his smallest. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will likely recall Pudi's brief but memorable cameo in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Directors Joe and Anthony Russo worked heavily on "Community" — in fact, it was their highly memorable paintball episodes that first attracted the attention of Marvel Studios and led to the most successful directorial run in the studio's history (via The Wrap). As a nod to their "Community" fans and the cast they had grown to love, much of the show's main cast were given noticeable cameos in the Russos' MCU films — even including "Avengers: Endgame," which saw Ken Jeong (Chang) as a security guard and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. 

As for "Winter Soldier," Danny Pudi plays a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that has a hilarious run-in with then-fugitive Captain America. 

After uncovering that S.H.I.E.L.D. — the MCU's resident Swiss-army spy organization — has been infiltrated by the fascist shadow-government Hydra, Chris Evans' star-spangled hero goes on the run to thwart a ploy for world domination. When the Captain needs to address the organization's entire agent-base, he and fellow superhero Falcon (Anthony Mackie) force Pudi's agent at gun point to grant them access to SHIELD's communications system. Hilariously, Pudi's character shows no hesitation and quickly gets out of their way.

A villainous turn in Mythic Quest

Currently, Danny Pudi plays Brad Bakshi on the Apple TV+ series "Mythic Quest." The show follows the behind-the-scenes drama and hijinks that occur during the production of the fictional "Mythic Quest" MMORPG. 

The series was spawned from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" stalwarts Charlie Day, Megan Ganz, and Rob McElhenney (who also stars as game director Ian Grimm). Pudi's Brad is a main antagonist of the series, serving as the head of monetization for "Mythic Quest." His sole, single-minded purpose is to make the game as profitable as possible, showing little regard for ethics, creative expression, or his co-worker's wishes. His ultimate goal is to build a money bin like his childhood hero, Scrooge McDuck from "Duck Tales" (though, ironically, Pudi voiced Huey Duck in the 2017 reboot of "Duck Tales").

In the episode "Everlight," it's shown that Brad is every bit as physically viscous as he is mentally, showcasing an impressive talent for swordplay and archery. The character is bizarrely terrifying, played as the sort of co-worker who seems mundane at first, but gets scarier and scarier the more you interact with them.