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Avatar's Zuko Vs. My Hero Academia's Bakugo: Who Would Win A Fight?

It can be difficult to stand out in a cast as amazing as Avatar: The Last Airbender's, but Zuko (voiced by Dante Basco) does just that. He comes off as one-note at first, but as Avatar starts to peel back the layers of his character, viewers begin to understand the Fire Nation prince is more than meets the eye. No matter what, though, Zuko's firebending prowess is never in question. He may be a late bloomer compared to his sister, Azula (voiced by Grey DeLisle), a childhood firebending prodigy, but his skill only grows during the year-long span of Avatar.

Like Zuko, My Hero Academia's Katsuki Bakugo (voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto) seems easy enough to read in the show's early days: an aggressive bully, nothing more. His Quirk (or superpower), Explosion, only seems to add to how blatantly surface-level his character appears. Yet both character and Quirk outgrow their initial shells, moving on together as the world of MHA becomes progressively more dangerous. A healthy mixture of rigorous training and real-world experience propel Bakugo to heights he always knew he would reach.

Just because Zuko and Bakugo both start out on similarly one-note grounds, only to grow as fighters, doesn't mean they're similar characters — but their abilities somewhat close the disparity between them. That, of course, begs the question of who would win in a fight ... and there's no simple answer. Let's take a closer look at what these two heated warriors are capable of, to best determine who would come out on top in a theoretical battle between them.

Some spoilers for Avatar and MHA ahead!

Zuko fulfills his firebending destiny

Zuko is raised to believe the best firebenders are fueled by rage, an emotion that's long burned in him. Banished from his home at a young age, spurned by his father and sister, unsure what happened to his mother — Zuko has ample reason to be angry. But Zuko has something that rage could never replace, the best mentor in all the Four Nations: his uncle Iroh (voiced by Mako Iwamatsu and Greg Baldwin), who loves and treats him like a son.

As early as Avatar's third episode, viewers see just how much of an influence Iroh has on Zuko's fighting style. Up against Zhao (voiced by Jason Isaacs), a far more experienced firebender, in an Agni Kai (a firebending duel), Zuko heeds Iroh's advice to come out on top: "Remember your firebending basics... They are your greatest weapons." Iroh later teaches Zuko how to redirect lightning, and convinces him that there's something to learn from all four elements. Restricting himself to the Fire Nation's tenets would only mean placing a preemptive lid on his growth.

Zuko also seizes an opportunity to learn from the original firebenders themselves: dragons. In doing so, he finds a way to channel emotions other than rage into his firebending, expanding his horizons even further. By Avatar's end, all these lessons coalesce to form a firebender far more precise and controlled than the one viewers are initially led to believe is nothing more than an unrefined, spoiled prince. He goes toe-to-toe with Azula, who he never would've beaten earlier on, and only loses because he needs to protect Katara (voiced by Mae Whitman), a waterbender, from Azula's lighting. Aside from firebending, Zuko is also an accomplished swordsman, and an adept martial artist.

Zuko is far from unstoppable, however. He loses many fights, despite his tremendous growth as a bender. Being a firebender doesn't mean he's immune to fire, as the trademark scar on his face attests to. He can defend against and deflect others' fire (or lightning), but a slip-up means he gets burned, like anyone else. And though Zuko is in excellent physical condition, he's a regular person at the end of the day. Land a good enough blow on him, and he's done for.

Bakugo constantly guns for the top spot

Unlike Zuko, Bakugo has always been talented, and he knows it. Throughout his time as a student, he consistently proves just how much of a grasp he has on his Quirk, even if he isn't much of a team player, and doesn't have a typical hero's attitude.

Explosion is reliant on Bakugo's sweat — similar to nitroglycerin, in composition. He consciously ignites this sweat, and boom, instant fiery bursts. The bracers on his costume allow him to store up sweat, allowing for even larger attacks than he alone can perform. The most prominent application of his Quirk allows Bakugo to propel himself at great speeds, granting him both the height and mobility advantages in most fights. For opponents particularly sensitive to light, Bakugo can create a flash grenade-like explosion that blinds anyone looking. AP Shot demonstrates Bakugo's surprising capacity for precision, allowing him to focus powerful blasts into concentrated beams. Should he need raw power, though, Bakugo can use Howitzer Impact, spinning himself rapidly in the air using Explosion to create a veritable tornado of energy that destroys all upon contact.

Indeed, Bakugo's almost rabid appearance belies an impressively creative fighter — a dichotomy which throws off opponents. Bakugo's no slouch when it comes to understanding his enemies, either. He's often able to quickly assess who he's fighting and develop a counter strategy.

If Bakugo has one weakness, it's his short fuse. No matter how powerful and intelligent a fighter he is, he does have a tendency to get in his own way — and the way of others. His recklessness has gotten him into trouble on multiple occasions, even getting him captured by the infamous League of Villains. Bakugo also prefers to fight opponents who are trying their hardest, and will goad just about anyone into letting loose — even those much more experienced than him, like All Might (voiced by Kenta Miyake). Talented though he may be, Bakugo still has a ways to go.

Zuko vs. Bakugo: Who crisps the other?

Zuko and Bakugo both have minimal experience against one another's power types. Who wins, then?

Considering Bakugo's higher degree of movement options, he seems the easy pick, but Zuko spends a lot of his time fighting Aang, an airbender who does nothing but move. Aang, however, isn't aggressive like Bakugo is — but that's not necessarily a problem for Zuko, either, as firebending is an extremely aggressive practice. Fighting firebenders like Azula teaches him how to fight aggression with aggression, as well as when to fall back on defense. Bakugo isn't much as far as defense goes, but his evasive maneuvers more than make up for it.

Moment to moment, then, Zuko and Bakugo would essentially be on even footing. That makes it a test of endurance — which again leads to a stalemate scenario, since both are in peak physical condition. What it really comes down to, then, is who outfights and outsmarts who. They both outfight and outsmart a variety of opponents in their respective series, but Bakugo deals with a wider range of opponents on average than Zuko, and that greater need for adaptability makes him the likely winner.

That's not to say Zuko hasn't fought some heavy hitters (the Avatar, anyone?), but he at least always knows to generally expect one of five things: water, earth, fire, air, or weapons. Bakugo's class alone has 19 other students with 19 unique Quirks, and it's Bakugo's job to figure out ways to overcome each and every one. His win over Zuko isn't guaranteed, but knowing who and what he knows, Bakugo wouldn't be scared of a little sword-twirling heat.