|"Are you tired of living under the tyranny of benders? Then join the Equalists! For too long, the bending elite of this city have forced nonbenders to live as lower class citizens! Join Amon and together we will tear down the bending establishment!"|
|— A protester addressing a crowd.|
The Equalists are an organization of radical revolutionaries, formerly led by Amon, that operate within Republic City. They oppose the use of bending, which they see as inherently oppressive and inequitable and seek to "equalize" society through its elimination using terrorist and tactical methods. Because of this, the Equalist movement was occasionally referred to as the "Anti-bending Revolution" before Amon's death.
Equalist fighters are known for utilizing chi blocking as a means to counteract bending and its advantages. Adept at using long-range weapons to restrain and immobilize their enemies, the Equalists utilize a selection of tools and equipment, including smoke grenades, electrified gloves, and motorcycles.
The Equalists' most valuable asset was their leader, Amon, who told his followers that the spirits had granted him the ability to remove people's bending abilities. After he was eventually exposed as a waterbender who used bloodbending to sever the connection to one's bending art, the Equalists lost much power and many supporters, but remnants of the group kept a low profile in Republic City underground, rebuilding their strength. After Harmonic Convergence, the remaining Equalists came into contact with a mysterious man named Hundun, who promised them a new world order, free from bending. The revolutionaries decided to side with him, but were eventually defeated by Avatar Korra once again.
After fleeing the Northern Water Tribe in 144 AG, Noatak, the waterbending son of former Republic City crime lord Yakone, developed a strong hatred toward all benders due to having a troubled childhood under his father's influence, and believed that benders were the cause of all evil in the world. He eventually used makeup to appear scarred, donned a mask to hide his identity and assumed the alias of Amon. He claimed to have been born on a farm to a family of nonbenders, that he was a nonbender himself, and that he developed strong feelings of hatred and revenge after his parents' supposed murder at the hands of a firebender. He also claimed that he was chosen by the spirits to bring balance to the world, as the Avatar had failed in doing so. The anti-bending movement began recruiting adepts who had been oppressed, wronged, or had otherwise developed hatred for bending, and the Equalists eventually became a formidable group within Republic City.
In order to fulfill their goal, Amon decided to accelerate their plans after Avatar Korra's early arrival in the city, a reason why an Equalist assembly called "The Revelation" was scheduled to be carried out. For this purpose, they kidnapped a few Triple Threat Triad members and their leader Lightning Bolt Zolt from their headquarters, which included the newly re-recruited Bolin. Mako and Korra witnessed the Equalists ride away in a truck with their hostages; the duo gave chase on Naga and the Equalists were forced to evade some firebending and earthbending attacks. Eventually, two Equalists on motorcycles broke off from the pack to face their pursuers. With a well-aimed throw, one Equalist fighter tripped the polar bear dog by tying her legs together with a bola. As the animal's riders were thrown from the saddle, the two Equalists engaged them in a hand-to-hand fight. With their superior agility, the chi blockers were able to quickly immobilize Korra and Mako with chi blocking, but retreated when Naga untangled herself and came to the rescue of her friends.
Later, at the rally, Amon gave a speech telling the audience about his life story and his motivation to lead the revolution. He blamed the benders of the world as the cause of every war that had ever been and showcased his plans for all the benders in the world on the prisoners by demonstrating an ability he claimed the spirits had granted him: the ability to take away a person's bending, permanently. Unknown to the attendees at the time, however, Korra and Mako had infiltrated the rally, and just before Amon could remove Bolin's bending, Korra released vast amounts of steam from the water boilers. This created enough of a distraction and cover for Mako to overpower an Equalist fighter, grab Bolin, and get out before anyone could react.
Amon's second-in-command, the Lieutenant, defeated the two brothers rather easily with his electrified kali sticks while they were trying to escape. However, Korra arrived and earthbent him into a wall before he could inflict more damage. As the trio escaped on Naga, the Equalists wanted to give chase, but Amon gave the order to let them escape, stating that the Avatar was the best person to spread word of his power.
Psychological impact on Avatar Korra
The Equalists and their leader had a profound impression on the Avatar, as Korra had nightmares about being attacked by them after witnessing Amon's skill at the rally. When Korra later aided a special task force led by Councilman Tarrlok to raid a secret underground training facility in the Dragon Flats borough, an Equalist ambushed her when she was in pursuit of two trainees. However, Korra managed to evade his attack and immobilized him by bending a rock straight into his stomach, and a second Equalist member was frozen to the wall when Tarrlok came to Korra's rescue. The raid resulted in the defeat and capture of four Equalist members.
At the ensuing press conference, Korra challenged Amon to a duel on Aang Memorial Island at midnight, without the presence of the task force or the chi blockers. However, it appeared as though Amon was unwillingly to accept the challenge as midnight passed without his appearance. Korra, believing he would not turn up, started to return home. However, as she did so, several Equalists ambushed the Avatar and quickly overpowered and immobilized her. It was at that moment that Amon emerged from the shadows and explained part of his plan to eradicate all benders. Rather than take Korra's bending and having her "become a martyr", Amon knocked her unconscious and the Equalists left her in the island's museum.
Attack on the Pro-bending Arena
Amon later demanded the shutdown of the Pro-bending Arena before the sport's championship match, but the United Republic Council ultimately did not agree to this. As a result, the Equalists disguised themselves as ordinary spectators and entered the arena that night. After the match, they sprang into action, electrifying several members of the Metalbending Police Force who were present as part of a security detail, Tenzin, Lin Beifong, and the Fire Ferrets. As they appeared on the playing field, the still present White Falls Wolfbats attacked them, but Amon easily evaded their attacks and took their bending away. The Equalists kept the arena secured as Amon declared war on all the benders, before blowing up the playing field. As they escaped on their airship, Korra came after them. With the aid of Lin, she managed to knock some Equalists off the cables suspended underneath the airship, but was soon knocked off herself. A fight ensued on the arena's roof between Korra and Lin against four Equalists, among whom was the Lieutenant. Lin immobilized two of them with her metalbending, and Korra knocked out the other one and even threw the Lieutenant off the roof, but Amon and the remainder of his cronies escaped.
Battle at the Equalist factory
In the aftermath of the attack, the Equalists framed the head of Cabbage Corp by planting evidence in one of the industry's factories indicating that the company was responsible for the manufacturing of the electrified gloves. This action was a decoy to lead the authorities away from Future Industries where Hiroshi Sato was working on a new weapon for the Equalists, the mecha tank. However, Korra overheard a suspicious phone call held by the businessman and together with Tenzin, Lin, and several officers, they discovered a hidden factory where several of the tanks were already operational. Hiroshi had set up a trap for them and used the opportunity to perform a test run on the new machines. They proved to be a great success and the Equalists managed to take several police officers hostage. Korra, Tenzin, and Lin were eventually rendered unconscious; they were rescued, however, by Mako and Bolin after Asami intervened and took out her father and the Lieutenant.
Sometime after the discovery of Hiroshi Sato's secret factory, an Equalist raiding party instigated a jailbreak of chi blockers and sympathetic inmates to the cause. However, after a daring pursuit by Team Avatar, the getaway of Equalist raiders and the escaped convicts were thwarted and handed over to the Metalbending Police Force to be imprisoned again.
When Korra was kidnapped by Tarrlok, the councilman blamed the incident on the Equalists. Team Avatar, Tenzin, and Lin infiltrated an underground Equalist prison, where Lin found her officers, although their bending abilities had already been removed. Mako aggressively interrogated an Equalist guard about Korra's whereabouts to which the guard revealed that they were not responsible for the Avatar's kidnapping. Tenzin figured out that Tarrlok was behind the kidnapping, and the group successfully escaped the underground compound to confront him.
Amon personally led a small team of Equalists to Tarrlok's mountain hideout to "equalize" the disgraced councilman and capture Korra. Tarrlok easily subdued the Lieutenant and the henchmen with bloodbending, but Amon, after a slight struggle, resisted its effects. He backed Tarrlok into a wall and took away his bending. While Amon carried Tarrlok to the truck, the rest of the team prepared to capture Korra, with Amon warning them not to underestimate her. However, the Avatar outsmarted them and successfully evaded Amon's pursuit.
Attack on Republic City
On the eve of an emergency meeting called by Councilman Tenzin, the Equalists advanced their plans and captured the council members. Only Tenzin successfully evaded capture, becoming the sole leader of the city.
At this point, the Equalists began their attack on the city starting with the bombardment of buildings and establishments from their airships. Utilizing their mecha tanks, the Equalists took over the police headquarters and captured the remaining officers of the Metalbending Police Force, including Chief Saikhan. They moved forward with their attack by invading Air Temple Island. Though successful at repelling the attackers, Tenzin and his family were forced to evacuate the city, leaving both the island and the city as a whole under Equalist control.
A division of the United Forces, led by General Iroh, arrived to retake Republic City; however, the Equalists were aware of their impending arrival. To this end, Hiroshi Sato created biplanes to destroy the fleet of battleships. General Iroh was the only known person to escape the first attack on the United Forces.
It was later revealed by Tarrlok that Amon was his brother and shared his waterbending and bloodbending talents. Korra and Mako realized that the Equalist revolution was a lie and went to the Pro-bending Arena to expose Amon at his rally.
After Amon successfully held the city from the United Forces, he went to the Pro-bending Arena to conduct his rally. However, Korra and Mako arrived in disguise and revealed that Amon was a waterbender and a bloodbender. In order to end all suspicions against him, he removed his mask, revealing a large scar. Korra and Mako attempted to leave, but Amon revealed Tenzin and his three children tied up to posts and stated his intentions to take their bending away. He was knocked back by Mako's lightning, and the Equalists around him were knocked out. Korra freed the airbenders and fled down a corridor with Mako, Amon hot on their heels. The Equalist leader used bloodbending to subdue them and stripped Korra of her bending abilities. The Lieutenant witnessed this and attacked Amon, declaring him a traitor for being a bender, but was easily defeated. As Amon was preparing to remove Mako's bending, the firebender stunned him with lightning. Mako used this time to try to escape with Korra, but Amon bloodbent them again and proceeded to remove Mako's bending. However, he failed after Korra used her newly unlocked airbending to send him flying through a window into the nearby harbor.
The Equalists were shocked to see their leader plunge into the sea. After Amon's mask floated to the surface, they were outraged and angry at the Avatar for seemingly killing their leader. However, Amon instinctively used his waterbending to levitate himself from the sea, much to the surprise of his followers, including the protester. The citizens discovered that his alleged scar was actually comprised of makeup and learned of his status as a waterbender. Realizing that his true identity had been exposed, Amon escaped the scene and resolved to flee the city with Tarrlok at his side. However, while the two were traversing the Mo Ce Sea, his brother blew up the speedboat, killing them both.
Aftermath of the Anti-bending Revolution
With Amon, Hiroshi Sato, and the Lieutenant all defeated, the Equalists were left without any leaders, and with the revelation of Amon's true origins they began to fracture and scatter. While the militant sect of the Equalist revolution was greatly weakened as result and was to blame for much damage to Republic City, they did force a worldwide dialogue about the representation of nonbenders. In the United Republic, that led to the non-elected United Republic Council dissolving itself and the holding of democratic elections. As a result, a nonbender, Raiko, was elected by the nonbending majority. Despite this, however, a remnant of militant Equalists chose to continue resistance and went into hiding to avoid detection for the following six months.
In course of the Unalaq Crisis in 171 AG, Republic City was heavily damaged and many boroughs were evacuated, whereupon the remaining Equalist forces occupied the abandoned quarters. Not long after, the revolutionaries came into contact with Hundun, who plotted to throw the world into chaos. Unaware of his lying scheme, the Equalists accepted his promise of a new world order and large sums of money in return for their help in capturing and destroying the Avatar, even though they were forced to work with the Triple Threat Triad, who were also hired by the old man.
On a following night, the Equalists stunned Korra with darts after she had unknowingly compromised a meeting between Hundun and some mobsters and brought her to an apartment, where Hundun explained to them that they had to extract Korra's chi as long as she was weak; the Avatar woke up too early, however, and promptly fled after noticing that her bending was gone. The Equalists attempted to recapture her, though she managed to escape to Air Temple Island. Since the island's residents had left for the Southern Water Tribe, however, chi blockers and triad mobsters had taken control of the air temple and attacked Korra upon her arrival. Nevertheless, they were driven off the island, whereupon the Avatar returned to Republic City downtown and directly confronted the Equalists' main forces to find answers. After a number of fierce fights, a single Equalist mecha tank pilot was captured by Korra and revealed to her that they were allied with Hundun who had planned to take her chi. After telling her all he knew, the man was thrown into the ocean.
After their attempts to capture the Avatar in the United Republic had failed, the Equalists were ordered by Hundun to guard the Southern spirit portal at the South Pole. There, the revolutionaries employed large numbers of well-equipped chi-blockers to hinder Korra's advances through the coastal mountains. When she broke through mounted on Naga, the Equalists sent three mecha tanks to stop her in the open tundra before the spirit forest, though the tanks were destroyed. In a last stand, the Equalists and dark spirits attacked the Avatar in the ancient forest at the spirit portal, but the revolutionaries were beaten back, leaving only the dark spirits to face Korra. The Equalists faced Korra one more time with mecha tanks in the Spirit World, though their force proved to be no match for the Avatar State and the remaining Equalists fled in defeat.
- "Amon is the solution."
- ―A typical Equalist slogan.
The Equalists follow the teachings of Amon, who began spreading his ideas after allegedly receiving a vision from the spirits that the Avatar had failed humanity in its duty to bring balance to the world. The main cause of this imbalance was bending, which he believed was used only to bully and oppress the world's nonbenders and which had been the cause of every war. According to Amon, the only way to restore equality was to remove the abilities of the world's benders, who exploited and marginalized the nonbending majority, and overthrow the "bending elite" in a wide-ranging social revolution. Accordingly, Amon claimed to have been granted the ability to permanently remove a person's bending powers. By eliminating bending throughout the world, the Equalists' aim is to create a society free of bender/nonbender divisions, where no person has an innate advantage over another.
Because Amon's followers saw him as the only person who could truly eradicate bending throughout the world, the Equalist ideology was focused almost entirely on him. Accordingly, Equalist propaganda often featured Amon as a central motif.
Although Amon's final goal remained unclear at the time of his death, he had expressed an eventual plan to export the Equalist revolution beyond the borders of Republic City to the rest of the world. Assisting Amon in his quest were a multitude of Equalist fighters, including sleeper agents disguised as ordinary civilians, and highly trained chi blockers. Amon himself seemed to have a deep disdain for bending, as he referred to it as an "impurity" that must be "cleansed". This most likely stemmed from his childhood, when his father Yakone trained him and his brother Tarrlok to bloodbend. His intent was that after he had taken over Republic City, he would replace the "bending regime" with a "fair-minded" Equalist government.
The revelation that Amon was a bender dealt a huge blow to the Equalists' reputation and ideology, resulting in the loss of most of their supporters. Despite this, a large number of radical Equalists continued their fight for a new world order of equality and the "common good". After Hundun had promised them to help them in their struggle, some Equalists expressed a strong loyalty to him, even donning their mecha tanks in colors and motifs that resembled his.
Methods, equipment, and abilities
Equalists were shown using various means to defeat benders. Equalist members were trained as hand-to-hand fighters and in the art of chi blocking, a key skill in defeating a bender. Because of their lack of bending capabilities, Equalists typically employed underhanded tactics such as ambush attacks, hit-and-run strikes, and use of sleeper agents, among others. They also employed fear tactics, which was exhibited during the attack on Republic City's Pro-bending Arena.
Aside from their fighting skills, the Equalists employed a large range of tools and weapons, such as special suits, smoke grenades, knockout gas, bolas, motorcycles, and airships. The Lieutenant was also shown using a set of electrified kali sticks to electrocute and temporarily subdue opponents. With the support of Hiroshi Sato, the Equalists began utilizing electrically-charged gloves, which Amon described as "the power of a chi blocker in their hand". These are capable of instantly neutralizing any enemy, even a metalbending police officer, whose metal armor is impervious to traditional chi blocker attacks.
Sato also developed a mechanical suit known as the mecha tank. These are made of platinum, which is immune to metalbending due to its purity. Mecha tanks use extendable claws, metal cables, and can disperse electricity through these appendages to electrocute enemies. They are also durable; the device that Sato operated withstood multiple fire and air strikes from Tenzin and Korra without any visible damage. However, their second encounter showed that, with the right benders present and awareness of the machine's weapons, the tanks are actually vulnerable to benders. In fact, the main weakness of the Equalist equipment and tactics overall seems to be the sheer reliance on surprise and ambush, as proven during the second utilization of mecha tanks, which were soundly defeated. This was demonstrated during the battle for Republic City, when a large number of them were defeated by Councilman Tenzin's three children, as well as when Asami single-handedly defeated five Equalists.
Sato later provided a fleet of small, high-speed aircraft which were armed with bombs and torpedoes that were powerful enough to destroy the entire United Forces fleet.
To gain public support, Amon used his powers to target benders who were well known for abusing their powers, such as the Triple Threat Triad and White Falls Wolfbats. In doing so, he implanted fear into the bender population and won the support of nonbenders. After it was made known that Sato was an Equalist, Amon made no distinction as he began to target all benders regardless of who they were. This was made evident when the Equalist leader planned to strip the bending of Tenzin and his family, which consisted of mostly children. While they mainly employed guerrilla attacks, the Equalists also possessed massive amounts of both man and firepower, enough to completely defeat the Metalbending Police Force, take over Republic City in the span of a day, and even defeat the United Forces fleet, although relying very heavily on undercover agents and the element of surprise.
List of known members
- Amon (deceased)
- Hiroshi Sato (deceased)
- Lieutenant (later defected)
- Warehouse worker
List of known bases
- Air Temple Island (temporary headquarters)
- Chi blocker training camp
- Equalist factory (weapon factory)
- Hiroshi's secret airfield
- Pro-bending Arena (rally site)
- Rally building
- Republic City tunnel network (main base of operations)
- Spirit Wilds (post Unalaq Crisis)
- Even after the Equalists' defeat, their technology continues to be used, as Future Industries utilized the specifications for the Equalist biplane to produce a domestic version, which was tested by Asami. In the wake of the crisis in the Southern Water Tribe, Asami commissioned Future Industries to manufacture mecha tanks and distribute them to the Southerners.
- The Equalists' symbol is a large red circle inscribed with the Chinese character , which can mean "equal", "level", or "peace". This insignia is seen on many Equalist banners throughout the series.
- The Equalist ideology loosely resembles the real-world ideology of communism, as they both seek to attain equality through the removal of a distinct societal or elemental class.
- They could also be compared to the Taiping Rebellion, led by Hong Xiuquan in the late 19th century. Similar to Amon claiming to have been led by the spirits, Hong claimed to have been the younger brother of Jesus Christ, and much like how the Equalists wished to replace the "oppressive" bending regime with a "fair-minded" Equalist government, the Taiping Rebellion sought to purge China of folk religion and replace it with Christianity. Additionally, much like the Equalists' capture of Republic City, the rebels managed to take control of a portion of China for a short time; however, the Taiping Heavenly Army managed to hold power for about fourteen years.
- The Equalists were originally named the "anti-benders", until the name change was announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2011.
- The highly advanced technology used by the Equalists parallels the real world time period in which the show is based upon. Smoke grenades were developed shortly after the First World War, motorcycles gained prominence in the early 1900s, and the electric weapons are reminiscent of the sharp growth in electrical technology from 1890s to the 1920s.
- The large banners featured on a wall of the chi blocker training room and hanging from the ceiling of Hiroshi Sato's hidden factory have the words: " ", which means "Amon is the solution".
- Amon was the only member of the Equalists to not have been seen using any sort of physical weapon.
- The Equalist tactic of using a smoke screen on motorcycles to blind an enemy is similar to the use of smoke generators by American destroyers during World War II. The American ships would use the smoke to cover a retreat or to catch the enemy by surprise.
- Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, co-creators of The Legend of Korra, voiced the two Equalists standing guard at the end of one of the tunnels when Lin, Tenzin, Asami, Bolin, and Mako infiltrated the prison facility in search for Korra and the captured police officers in the episode "Out of the Past".
- In the Greek dub of the show, the Equalist organization is referred to as "Equality" (Ισότητα), and its members as the "members of the Equality" (μέλη της Ισότητας), instead of just Equalists.
- Even though their revolution was intended to benefit nonbenders, they were not above attacking nonbending civilians who promoted the art, such as electrocuting pro-bending commentator Shiro Shinobi during the Attack on the Pro-bending Arena.
- The creators wanted to revisit the Equalists in the second book, but were unable to do so due to time constraints.
- Both Equalist leaders, Amon and Hundun, were voiced by Steve Blum.
- Although the Equalists oppose the use of bending, the organization has been led by two different benders.