|"Yep, I like to think I'm always there to stand up for the little guy. Especially if that little guy can help this guy become a bigger guy."|
|— Varrick explains his buying of a controlling interest in Future Industries to Mako.|
Iknik Blackstone Varrick, more commonly known by his last name, is an eccentric and charismatic nonbending billionaire businessman known for his ambitious nature and flamboyance. Born in the Southern Water Tribe, he is a nobleman who enjoys gallivanting across the globe on his yacht and flaunting his extravagant lifestyle, often at the expense of his then-assistant and later wife, Zhu Li. A man who respects directness, he struck up a close friendship with the honest and candid earthbender Bolin. He later masterminded a civil war between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes, claiming that Unalaq's occupation of his country was a threat to the South's wealth, especially his own, while furthering his true intention of profiting off of the escalating conflict. However, his attempt to also draw the United Republic into the war led to his arrest. Nevertheless, Varrick soon managed to escape, and settled down in Zaofu as the head of the city's technology department, though he later accompanied Kuvira on her quest to reunite the Earth Kingdom. Unwilling to weaponize spirit energy for her, Varrick eventually deserted her army in 174 AG and helped Team Avatar to stop her from conquering Republic City. After Kuvira was defeated, Varrick married Zhu Li.
Early life and career
Varrick was born to a poor seal-hunter. Growing up on a farm, he once had a pet ostrich horse named Mrs. Beaks, whom he had loved but taken for granted. At some point, he was taken away by the circus. As he grew up in the Southern Water Tribe, he managed to expand his business from a single canoe into a global enterprise, until he finally controlled the entire global shipping business. A consummate deal maker, he is always looking for opportunities to expand his business empire.
Sometime after the Anti-bending Revolution, Varrick helped sponsor Raiko and his opponent in their respective candidacies for President of the United Republic of Nations, with Raiko winning the election.
Business deal with Asami Sato
In 171 AG, Varrick met with Asami Sato during the Glacier Spirits Festival in order to discuss business arrangements to save her company, Future Industries, from bankruptcy. While in the middle of attempting to impress an audience with what he believed to be a levitation trick, Bolin and Asami entered his yacht, and Bolin noted that Varrick was not levitating, to the shock of the people surrounding the billionaire much to Asami's embarrassment. Though he seemed angry for a moment, Varrick quickly became grateful that Bolin had pointed it out and fired his swami for tricking him into believing he was levitating. He quickly took a liking to the young earthbender and showed him a moving picture of an ostrich horse. He subsequently brought out the show girl Ginger to strike poses, because he believed moving pictures to be old news. Asami tried getting Varrick's attention to remind him of their business arrangement. Varrick soon entered into a brief but tense stare-down with Asami before agreeing to finalize the details of their agreement. He took his guests on a rocket-boat ride.
Varrick later attended the banquet held in honor of Chief Unalaq of the Northern Water Tribe. After the chief gave his speech regarding his disappointment in the absence of spirituality in the South Pole, during which Varrick was not paying attention because he was picking his teeth, he took the stage to cheer up the audience by calling on Wacky Wushu's dancing otter penguins to perform.
The next day, Varrick provided Bolin with a snowmobile with a two-person side compartment and a snow-suit equipped with a variety of emergency provisions and equipment, including a flotation device, internal heater, emergency beacon, and food ration pouch, for his friend's journey with Avatar Korra to the Everstorm.
Rebellion and escape from the South
After Unalaq's battleships arrived at the Southern Water Tribe, a disgusted Varrick joined several tribesmen in a meeting at Tonraq and Senna's house. Alarmed at the possibility of Unalaq forcing his views on the South and potential shipping losses resulting from the Northern blockade, Varrick called for a rebellion against the chief. Unalaq later suspected Varrick of being involved in an attempt to remove him from power, calling for his arrest and trial. Varrick managed to escape capture by hiding himself and Zhu Li inside a stuffed platypus bear, Ping Ping, in his residence in the capital city. After Desna and Eska's search of the room turned up nothing, Varrick revealed himself to Mako, Bolin, and Asami after overhearing Bolin's unsuccessful attempts to break up with Eska. He told his friend that he should instead run away. He refused to come out until he was absolutely sure it was safe. The billionaire had Zhu Li give Bolin a bunch of yuans, deposited from the statue's tail, to bribe any guards to release their captive rebels, suspecting that Unalaq rigged the trial. However, Bolin failed to understand the meaning of a bribe, giving the money to two complete strangers who failed to understand his subtle instruction.
Sometime later, Avatar Korra came by, explaining that she had found out that Unalaq had masterminded Tonraq's banishment and imprisonment, and resolved to free her father. At the same time, Bolin and Pabu entered the room, formally dressed, as Eska intended to forcibly marry him. Varrick maintained his advice about running away, before discussing how to free Tonraq and break the blockade. While Korra, Mako and Asami went to free Tonraq, Bolin took Varrick and Zhu Li in their disguise to get to his ship. When questioned whether the "platypus bear" is licensed, Varrick instructed Zhu Li to cause a distraction by scattering money about. As bystanders started grabbing all the money they could, the party was able to make it onto Varrick's boat. However, Korra's group arrived to reveal that Tonraq and the other prisoners were being shipped to the north. With the next obstacle being the blockade, Varrick brought out a biplane so Korra could get into the air and waterbend the Northern ships out of the way. However, Asami noted there was no runway for the plane to take off, but Korra and Mako were able to firebend to give the aircraft an extra boost as Asami piloted it. Korra was able to break the blockade, allowing them to catch up with the prison ship and free the prisoners. After dropping off Tonraq and the rebels so they could start a resistance against Unalaq, Korra agreed with her father's advice to get help from the United Forces. However, Varrick spotted Eska advancing on their position, determined to get Bolin back. At the urging of his friend, Varrick set full speed away from the enraged waterbender.
Propaganda for the South
Upon arriving at Republic City, Varrick had Zhu Li set up a meeting with President Raiko the next day. As everyone but Bolin had other preoccupations for the day, Varrick decided to take his friend for a special night on the town, treating him to a VIP session at the Pro-bending Arena.
The next day, Varrick brought Korra to meet with Raiko and had to nudge the Avatar when she and the President had to pose for a photo. Unfortunately, the meeting did not go in their favor, as Raiko refused to send the United Forces to aid the civil war, preferring to resolve it diplomatically.
Varrick returned to his yacht, where he attempted to show off for Bolin by firing arrows blindfolded, narrowly missing Asami as she and Korra arrived on the bridge. The two girls explained their respective dilemmas of striking a profit for Future Industries and getting military aid. Varrick did some brainstorming by eating a hot pepper and hanging himself upside-down. He told Asami that she could sell her mecha tanks to the South and Korra could go directly to General Iroh for aid. He also proposed using his moving pictures as propaganda against Unalaq, with Bolin starring as Nuktuk, the hero character in his film. However, as they began filming, Korra came in asking for a boat to travel to the Fire Nation, revealing that Raiko had been tipped off by someone about their plan and subsequently barred Iroh from assisting them.
Around this time, Varrick began cooperating with the Agni Kai Triad to stage a bombing of the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center, and to intentionally sabotage some of his shipments. Varrick did this with the intent of placing more blame during the war onto the North's shoulders.
Shortly afterward, the first of Varrick's propaganda films was published, and Zhu Li informed Varrick that one of his shipments had been stolen: a shipment he had done in a partnership with Future Industries. Varrick went to the Police headquarters where he found Asami and expressed his sorrow over the stolen shipment. He listened in on the interrogation of the ship's captain and Mako's claim that the crime had a connection to the bombing of the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center. When Mako was ordered to silence, Varrick and Asami entered the interrogation room as well, coming to the firebender's aid. However, they were soon all ordered out by Lin Beifong. Outside, Varrick overheard Mako and Asami's plans for a sting operation, and promptly offered one of his ships, although he gave off the impression that he did not know what it was for. However, after Asami and Mako had turned to the Triple Threat Triad for help, Varrick hired them as well via a middleman to keep them busy, which would enable him to rob a Future Industries warehouse. To provide himself with an alibi, he occupied himself with shooting another episode for The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South mover. After a successful execution of his plan, Varrick met up with Asami at Future Industries, where he officially bought a controlling share in the company. Right after signing, Mako came in, announcing that he figured out who was behind the thefts, though when he noticed Varrick, he decided not to share his findings. However, the firebender's initial outburst had been enough to alert Varrick that Mako was investigating him.
A week later, Varrick ordered two men to bring Mako before him in order for them to talk. In his usual light-hearted manner, he attempted to get Mako off his back by offering him a job on his security team, but was refused, even after implying that something might befall Asami or Bolin if Mako kept refusing. Realizing that Mako would not yield to his influence and would risk implicating him, Varrick planted yuans and explosives in Mako's apartment, and had the Triple Threat Triad claim to the police that Mako assisted them with robbing Future Industries.
Kidnapping attempt, arrest, and escape
Later at night, Varrick premiered the final installment of his mover series, inviting the president and his wife in an attempt to kidnap him and blame it on the Northern Water Tribe. However, Varrick's complicity was outed for a packed Pro-bending Arena to hear when Bolin foiled the attempt and forced a confession out of one of the kidnappers. The businessman attempted to leave, but was thwarted and swiftly arrested by Chief Beifong and her officers.
Because his company had built the prison, Varrick had commissioned a luxurious jail cell to be included in the design, as he predicted he would end up there one day. As such, he was imprisoned surrounded by wealth, as well as with Zhu Li, who never left his side and continued to serve him. He was approached by Team Avatar, who was seeking transportation to the South. Although they were initially hostile toward him, he pointed out that although he had done some bad things, he had also done commendable things, like warning Korra about Unalaq, making Bolin famous, and saving Asami's company. When asked by Bolin what he had done with the stolen Future Industries machinery, he revealed he had it stashed away on his battleship, the Zhu Li. To make up for the mess he caused for everyone, he offered his battleship and everything on it as a peace offering.
When the Dark Avatar was laying waste to the city, the wall of Varrick's cell was destroyed by one of the huge vines. Seeing his chance to escape, Varrick ordered Zhu Li to commence operation "Winged Freedom", which meant that she was to strap a backpack containing wings to her back and hold on to him, enabling them both to soar out of the prison to freedom during the chaos. Having witnessed the energy UnaVaatu wielded, Varrick got the idea of harnessing spirit power. Making their way out of the city and into the woods, Zhu Li served as Varrick's mode of transportation, carrying him around on her back.
Life in Zaofu
Varrick took refuge in Zaofu, where his friend, Suyin Beifong, granted him a position as head of her technology department. A few weeks after Harmonic Convergence, Zaofu was visited by Team Avatar and Lin, who sought Suyin's airbending daughter, Opal. As Varrick joined his current and former associates for dinner, Bolin was the first to acknowledge him. Asami wanted to know what Varrick was doing there, but he mostly dodged the question, wondrously asking what anyone was doing there. He subsequently asked Asami about how "their" company was doing, only for Asami to remind him that she regained full ownership because of Varrick's conspiracy to kidnap Raiko. The industrialist pointed out that technically he was never convicted, to which Mako pointed out that it was because he escaped, but the businessman reasoned that the universe saw fit to liberate him. He explained to Mako that he looked up Suyin, pitched her some ideas, and entered into business with her as the head of the city's technology division. He quickly began pitching his plans for a high-speed train to revolutionize transportation and shipping, but was interrupted by Lin, who was angry that her half-sister would give refuge to a fugitive. Suyin defended that she believed Varrick was deserving of a chance at redemption, prompting Lin to storm out. The next morning, Varrick was testing a new suit composed of magnetic materials. The drill was a success as he caught the family's and Team Avatar's dishes before having Zhu Li unplug it and clean up the resulting mess.
At Opal's farewell dinner, Varrick tried to offer a saddened Bolin relationship advice, but the earthbender declined, prompting Varrick to comment it was his loss. He subsequently had Zhu Li bring him his new device, an airbender finder, which he showed to Asami and Korra. When Asami could not get it to register as she pointed it at Korra, believing it was broken, the industrialist told them it needed to be airbent into for it to work. He raised his glass in a toast to Opal a short time later.
After the estate was penetrated by the Red Lotus, who attempted to kidnap Korra, Varrick was among those questioned by Aiwei as it was concluded only someone with inside information could have helped the criminals into the estate. He explained he was doing his nightly routine, checking his body for ticks, performing his "Varri-calisthenics", and thirty minutes of holding his breath. He also had the routine filmed and asked if they wanted to see, but an annoyed and grossed out Aiwei told him it was not necessary. Varrick and Zhu Li subsequently left.
Later, Varrick was scouring the scene of the previous night's battle for pumice stones when he overheard Team Avatar talking about the betrayal of Zaofu and the guard suspected to be the culprit. While having Zhu Li rub the stones on his feet to prevent calluses, Varrick explained that he could recognize a conspiracy when he encountered one, saying he too would say someone was guilty and plant evidence as proof, referencing how he framed Mako for the theft of Future Industries' equipment. The industrialist's suggestion led the team to who was truly the traitor, the only man who could keep a secret, namely Aiwei.
A few weeks after the assassination of Earth Queen Hou-Ting, Varrick left Zaofu upon Kuvira's request to help her stabilize Ba Sing Se and the rest of the Earth Kingdom. Bearing the rank of corporal in her army, he was in charge of inventions that would benefit the force. In this capacity, he modernized Hiroshi Sato's model of the mecha tanks, which became a prominent part of Kuvira's army.
Life as Kuvira's officer
En route to the state of Yi, Varrick ordered Zhu Li to provide everyone with a cup of celebratory tea after Bolin reported that two more states had joined Kuvira's cause, which brought their goal ten percent away from completion. However, they all digressed to consume the beverage when Kuvira announced that she would not celebrate until the entire kingdom was united, which caused them all to spill their drink on their clothes when the train came to a sudden halt due to a road block.
Kuvira's train made it to Republic City a day before Prince Wu's coronation, giving Varrick and the other officers the time to check in to the Republic City Four Elements. While waiting in the lobby for Zhu Li to catch up to him with all his luggage, Varrick amusedly mused that President Raiko must have turned purple when Kuvira forced him to pardon the industrialist of his crimes. When Zhu Li called him an upstanding citizen, Varrick readily agreed with her, before whispering to his assistant that she needed to fill his extra bag with as many little, lavender-scented soaps as she could find.
The next day, Varrick sat between Bolin and Zhu Li on the bleachers facing the podium on which Wu was crowned the fifty-fourth earth monarch with the Royal Brooch. When Kuvira denounced Wu's authority and usurped power over the Earth Kingdom, which she renamed "Earth Empire", for herself, Varrick stood up and loudly applauded and cheered for the army leader.
After the ceremony, Varrick retired with the other officers to the Presidential Suite in the Four Elements, where he was enjoying a cold beverage while talking to a nervous Bolin. Upon being asked if Kuvira's declaration would not turn all the world leaders against them, Varrick brushed off the lavabender's worries, stating that there was nothing the other nations could do since the nation was under Kuvira's control and Republic City was desperate for the metal they were mining. The conversation was cut short when Zhu Li entered the room, presenting a spirit vine to the industrialist. Varrick inspected the vegetation and, approving it, ordered for it to be taken back to their lab and stabilized immediately.
By the time the army train was back en route, Varrick had cut off a piece of the spirit vine and put it in a container, hooked and wired to a machine in order to experiment. He was ordered by Kuvira to make the development of the technology, which he claimed would change everything, his top priority.
Deserting the army
While traveling to Zaofu, Varrick continued his spirit vine experiments. In order to document their progress, he had Zhu Li set up a camera. Upon being notified that they were rolling, he introduced himself and the experiment. Being handed a stasis capsule that contained a sample of a spirit vine, he staggered toward a machine to put the tube in place. As his assistant secured the cables, Varrick continued narrating his experiment and switched the lever of the machine, turning it on. He explained that he had postulated that the vines are a form of pure energy that had become unstable in the physical world. It was his hope that the machine would transfer the energy from the vine into a battery using electrical currents, reverse magnetic polarity, and a phenomenon he liked to call the "Varri-effect". Checking up on the machine's progress, he excitedly noted that it was working, as it had already gathered five "Varricks" of power. As the machine reached seven "Varricks", it overloaded, however, urging the panicked inventor to order Zhu Li to shut it down. When the machine was unresponsive, the excess energy shot out in a concentrated energy beam, ripping a hole in the back of the wagon. The rattling of the train knocked Varrick off balance and he tumbled back against the wall. Noticing Zhu Li was barely holding on to the back of the cart, dangling above the tracks, he tried to pull her up. Upon failing a first time, he noted that she was too heavy and could stand to lose some weight. Being told that he was merely weak and needed to pull harder, Varrick increased his efforts and managed to drag Zhu Li back into the cart, where she landed on top of him. When Zhu Li was impressed that he had saved her, Varrick gently placed his hands on her cheeks and declared that it was only natural for him to have done so. He unknowingly broke Zhu Li's romantic mood, however, when he added that it was because he would not clean the mess of the explosion up by himself. He pushed his assistant off him and ordered her to grab a broom.
The commotion had drawn the attention of Kuvira and Baatar Jr., who entered his wagon, asking if they had come under attack. Standing up and dusting himself off, Varrick reassured the military commander that they had merely been "spirit vined", though that she did not need to worry as he was terminating the project. While shutting down the power to the various stasis capsules that held more spirit vine samples, he was ordered to continue the experiment, because wielding such power would be beneficial for the army. Wary about such power falling into the wrong hands, Varrick was convinced that stopping the experiment was necessary. As Baatar Jr. inquired why he was concerned with that, Varrick admitted that it was not like him, considering he usually only concerned himself with making money, regardless of any ethical consequences. He revealed that it had been a recent development for him to be concerned with others and to hear a "nagging voice" in his head which told him what was right from wrong, which Zhu Li clarified to be his conscience. Although Kuvira told him to continue his project, Varrick remained adamant about terminating it. Not taking the opposition well, Kuvira metalbent Varrick's shoulder plates around his neck and dangled him outside the train above the track. Fearing for his life, he quickly reconsidered and declared that he would continue working on the project. He was roughly hauled back into the vehicle, being slammed on the metal floor, and when Kuvira stepped over him on her way out, he glared at his two retreating superiors.
Varrick was subsequently locked inside his cart, much to his displeasure. He started to panic and ordered Zhu Li to hold her breath as he believed he was running out of air. As she calmly refused, he angrily turned on her, proclaiming that they were both going to die. When Bolin opened a hatch in the ceiling and called out to the inventor, Varrick was initially confused, believing his "head voices" to be back. After Zhu Li wordlessly directed his attention to the hatch, he wondered since when that opening had been there. However, he instantly dismissed his own question and urged the earthbender to descend into the wagon as he had important information to relay. When the two men stood face to face, they grabbed each other by the collar and declared simultaneously that "Kuvira [was] crazy", revealing to one another that they had been threatened by her. Agreeing that they needed to get away from there, Varrick signaled Zhu Li, who immediately exited the train via the hatch and lowered her hands to pull her employer up.
The three each secured a mecha suit and made their escape to the nearby forest. As Bolin proposed a way to sneak into Zaofu, Varrick loudly announced that they were not heading toward the city, deeming it to be doomed, and were on their way to Republic City instead. Since Bolin wanted to stay to help, Varrick noted that they were helping by warning the world about Kuvira's potential super weapon. Before they could make up their minds, however, they were ambushed by Baatar Jr. and two sergeants of the army, each piloting a mecha suit as well. As Baatar Jr. launched himself at Varrick after having shot down Bolin, the inventor ducked inside his suit for cover, leaving Zhu Li to defend him. As one of sergeants charged for Varrick, he staggered back and tried to retaliate with his flamethrower, though accidentally operated his visor instead, opening and closing it rapidly. Being saved by Zhu Li, he asked her "what idiot" had designed the suits, though upon learning that it had been him, he ordered her to lecture less and focus more on saving his life as another opponent was incoming. With the assailants occupied, Varrick made a break for it and sought refuge up a tree. Wanting to help, he managed to charge his electricity attack, though accidentally knocked down Zhu Li with it. He eventually got caught in a bola of one of the sergeants and was forced to abandon his suit and flee on foot. Scrambling up a hill, he was once again saved by his assistant, who hurled a boulder at his pursuer to keep him at bay. However, Varrick could not escape Baatar Jr., who threatened to kill him in order to force Zhu Li and Bolin to surrender. Being held over a cliff by the head, the captured inventor sarcastically thanked his assistant for his predicament.
Escorted back to camp, Varrick and the others were presented to Kuvira, who ordered them to be sent away on the next train, with specific orders for Varrick to continue working on the spirit energy project under close, armed supervision. He was shocked when Zhu Li subsequently denounced her loyalty to him and called him a "fool" compared to the army commander. As she pledged her allegiance to Kuvira, Varrick urged her to reconsider based on their history together, though he was blamed by an angry Zhu Li to have never appreciated her, despite the fact that she did everything he ever asked of her. As she ordered the guards to "do the thing", Varrick was dragged out of Kuvira's tent by two soldiers, screaming and begging his assistant to not order "the thing".
Varrick and Bolin were placed on a train that took them away from Zaofu. Spending the night on the floor of his prison cell, he mumbled in his sleep before startling awake, screaming Zhu Li's name. As he took in his surroundings, however, he dejectedly noted that his assistant truly was gone. He was approached by Baatar Jr. and two metalbending soldiers, who ordered him to go to work in the new lab they had set up for him. He reminisced about always being greeted in the morning by Zhu Li with a hot cup of tea, though was told that he would receive the beverage when he started working. Varrick pointed out that he was only productive for fifteen minutes a day, usually in the afternoon from 3:45 until 4pm, a comment that caused him to be roughly slammed against the wall. The eccentric inventor complained that he could not work without an assistant, as he declared himself to be helpless without Zhu Li, upon which he was assigned one of the soldiers. However, he spooked the guard by retelling how the experiment created an uncontrollable blast of energy last time they tried it, pointing out that the man might lose his hands. As such, Bolin was assigned to help Varrick instead.
As Varrick started tinkering at the machine containing the stasis capsule with a spirit vine sample in it, he held out his hand to Bolin and told him to "do the thing". When the lavabender was confused as to what he should be doing, an irritated Varrick turned toward him, restating to do "the thing" and adding that he never needed to elaborate on his requests with Zhu Li. He stood up and retrieved the tweezers that he had requested himself, demonstrating them to Bolin as he returned to his station. When he continued his work, Baatar Jr. ordered him to walk him through every step of the project. Varrick pushed the second-in-command back and started telling that he had envisioned using the spirit vine energy as a source of clean, unlimited energy, rather than a weapon of mass destruction. He was chastised by Baatar Jr. for wanting to limit his invention to clean energy, as Baatar Jr. believed it was their responsibility as scientists to push the boundaries of the possible once a discovery was made. Varrick jabbed at him, however, that he would not know anything about scientific discoveries as he could not even "discover a wolfbat if it was building a nest in [his] butt". When Baatar Jr. called the inventor "pathetic" and corrected him on the fact that wolfbats did not build nests, Varrick sarcastically commented that he was bested due to that remark. He stood up and pointed out that Baatar Jr. would never know how it felt to "give birth to genius only to have it kidnapped and raised by fools". When Baatar Jr. threatened to order the guards to roughly force him to continue his work, Varrick returned to his station, though as he passed Bolin, he revealed that they had failed to control the power last time when they ran the current through the vine and that he was trying something new this time in an attempt to direct it.
While he continued adjusting the power source on his invention, Varrick requested Bolin to hand him the screwdriver. When the earthbender lamented about helping Kuvira's army by building the weapon, Varrick retold the story of how he got the idea for the spirit energy during UnaVaatu's attack and added in a meaningful manner that he knew what he was doing. When the machine refused to start, the eccentric inventor tapped and kicked the contraption. When it finally sprung to life, bathing in a purple light, Varrick candidly pointed out that the source of the incisive ticking filling the wagon was a timer. Asked for more details, he irritatingly added that it was for the bomb that was set to detonate five minutes later and destroy all his research and everyone in its vicinity. Varrick smugly turned to Baatar Jr. and urged him to leave their part of the train, adding that he and Bolin were ready to die in the explosion. Stated to be bluffing, he dared Kuvira's second-in-command to call him on it and finished his rant by calling out to Zhu Li, declaring that she would be sorry to have left him as her name would become synonymous with betrayal. As Baatar Jr. gave the order for the guards to arrest him, Varrick revealed himself to be in the possession of a remote control with which he would instantly detonate the bomb if the guards came any closer.
Forcing everyone to leave their half of the train, Varrick commented that they were nearly out of time. When Baatar Jr. stated him to be "insane", he quickly answered that they had known that from the moment they hired him. He proceeded to tell Bolin to "do the thing", though irritatingly had to elaborate that he was referring to unhooking the carts. When they were alone in their cart, Bolin complimented his plan, revealing that he had succeeded in convincing him as well with his intention to blow them up. Upon being asked how they could shut the bomb down, Varrick revealed that he had not been bluffing about the explosion, much to the younger man's distress. Varrick poetically said his goodbye to Zhu Li, though was slapped in the face by Bolin and told that he was hated. Grabbed by the shoulder, Varrick was pulled along to jump through a hatch that exited right above the tracks. After Bolin tunneled a way for them through the earth and exited at the bottom of the crater created by the explosion, Varrick tumbled out, coughing and desperate for air. He soon started to laugh, however, and complimented Bolin on having done "the thing", bestowing him with a kiss on his forehead. Bolin glared at the inventor and told him that he could not believe Zhu Li had worked for him as long as she had.
Escaping the Earth Empire
Varrick and Bolin started their journey toward Republic City on foot, though Varrick soon used the earthbender as his mount. When a tired Bolin proposed that the inventor would walk on his own for a while, Varrick promptly compared him to Zhu Li and bragged that the latter could carry him for twenty miles a day with a sprained ankle. He was unceremoniously dropped on the ground and irritatingly told that Zhu Li was not there. Momentarily taken aback, Varrick waved off Bolin's action as something he deserved, telling the younger man to leave him in the forest to be gobbled up by worms. Upon being reminded that he was the one responsible for Kuvira trying to make a super weapon, he declared himself to be a "horrible" person. He was motivated to go on, however, when Bolin noted that they would atone for their actions by making it back to Republic City and warn the world about Kuvira's plans. Varrick complimented Bolin on his motivational skills and proposed to carry him on his back for a while, an offer that was gladly accepted. They did not get very far, however, as a struggling Varrick immediately stepped into a trap, which suspended them in a net high above the ground.
When Bolin was unable to break the ropes and expressed his wish to have Pabu there with them, as the fire ferret could have just gnawed them out of their predicament, Varrick absentmindedly noted that Zhu Li too had "incisors sharp as a knife". When they were approached by a group of people and Bolin asked if they would free them, Varrick took offense when Ahnah described them as "lowly" Earth Empire soldiers, bragging that they had been part of Kuvira's inner circle. After they were cut down and tied up, he grew surprised over learning that Kuvira had been purging the Earth Empire of everyone not of Earth Kingdom origin. Varrick irritatingly asked them where they were taking them, being told that the escapees planned to use them to talk their way past a border checkpoint. After Bolin used his earth- and lavabending to push them all back, Varrick triumphantly noted that they had not been expecting "lava time". As Bolin emphasized once more that they no longer worked for Kuvira, Varrick added that they would be "goners" if they were recognized trying to pass the checkpoint. Varrick and Bolin did team up with the fugitives, however, when it became apparent that the only way either party was getting out of the Earth Empire was by trusting each other and working together.
Varrick and Bolin walked in front of the now tied up fugitives and, upon reaching the checkpoint, he was told by Bolin to follow his lead and saluted the guard post officer. When Bolin was at a loss for what to do when he could not convince the guard to let them pass, as he was adamant about seeing a transfer order, Varrick grew annoyed and surged forward, ranting to the officer about the hardships he had allegedly suffered through to get there; he relayed he had to fight off two badgermoles, six wolfbats, and eighteen hog monkeys, one of which had eaten their transfer orders. He continued to state that he was in sore need of a shower and suffered from large blisters. He gave the officer the choice to either let them through or to give him his name and rank to give to Kuvira, as not letting them pass was allegedly against her orders. When the officer relented and granted them passage, Varrick smiled at another guard post soldier, though was recognized when they reached the other side of the wall of the checkpoint. In the ensuing battle, Varrick retreated to cover near the wall, from where he witnessed the difficulties his allies were having with the defending guards and mecha suits. Noticing a generator inside the office, he promptly started building a makeshift electromagnetic pulse device, using a metal table leg, a cable, and the generator. Firing his weapon, he managed to shut down the four mecha suits and prompted Bolin to flee with him. Varrick was stopped, however, when the earthbender turned to save all the fugitives from the still defending soldiers. After Bolin had created a moat of lava to prevent the guards from following them, they all moved away from the checkpoint.
As they reached the shore where the escapees boarded a small boat, Baraz and Ahnah offered to give them a lift on their boat, as they were heading north as well, though Varrick instantly declined it, deeming the vessel to be a "hunk of junk" and noting that he was "allergic to drowning". After Bolin elbowed him, though, he accepted the offer and climbed aboard with great difficulty.
Retelling Bolin's story
The fugitives told stories in order to entertain each other on the long seaward journey, though after Baraz recalled the origin of his dislike of onion-bark soup and a bored Bolin asked everyone if there was someone else who wanted to throw themselves overboard as well, Varrick joyfully noted that he had spent the last few hours tuning out all of the "incredibly boring stories", while mentally composing the "most exciting tale ever told", which he planned to convert into the "greatest mover ever made". He presented Bolin as Nuktuk in Bolin, Hero of the World, intending to capitalize on the audience of the Nuktuk franchise. When Bolin lamented that he did not deserve to be called a hero, as he had betrayed his friends and family, Varrick waved off his complaints as merely "emphasizing the wrong story beats" and started his story when he first met Bolin at the Southern Water Tribe. Varrick depicted himself as a handsome, wise sage and richest merchant in the world, who intended to teach a worthy pupil the power of levitation, which turned out to be Bolin. When he made Nuktuk sing, however, he was interrupted by the real Bolin, who adamantly stated that he had not been singing, Varrick had not been levitating, and Asami was just a friend, not his girlfriend. After Bolin failed to enthuse the fugitives with the true version of how he met Korra, Varrick dismissed him as being "on-screen talent" who should leave the storytelling to the masters.
Varrick continued his story, hypothesizing that Avatar Korra became trapped in the Spirit World, which made it the perfect time for the world's most evil villains to team up and take out Bolin. Stating that Zaheer led a group consisting of himself, Vaatu, Amon, and Unalaq, Varrick was once again interrupted by Bolin, who inquired how their collaboration would have even occurred, to which the inventor answered that the villains had held a conference call. Varrick went over Bolin's love interests, though had to urge his friend to stop crying upon his mention of Opal. He continued his story in which Bolin had to assemble an airbending army, whom he taught to create a tornado that turned Zaheer into wind. As Harmonic Convergence started, Varrick stated that Bolin had turned into a giant spirit upon being hit with amplified energy beams from the connected portals, enabling him to fight on par with UnaVaatu. When UnaVaatu was on the verge of corrupting Bolin's spirit, his strong "spiritual mojo" had attracted the queen of the fairies, who aided him to turn his enemy into "magic dust", with which he created the stars in the sky. As Varrick quickly ended the story, making Bolin turn into a dragon, go into the Spirit World, and save the Avatar, he received a standing ovation from the fugitives, much to Bolin's shock. He grew slightly annoyed when Bolin started to point out the plot holes in the script, such as the discarded storyline of "zombie Amon", though happily told his friend to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Defending Republic City
Varrick and Bolin made their way back to Republic City and set course for City Hall, where they interrupted a meeting between the world leaders, sans the Water Tribe representatives, though they were immediately apprehended as traitors on Raiko's orders. Before they could be taken away, Bolin mentioned that they had "top secret information" and they were released, prompting Varrick to note that they should have opened with that. After Bolin failed to plainly reveal Kuvira's plans, Varrick stated that the master metalbender was building a super weapon. He was surprised to learn that Korra knew it had something to do with spirit vines, and he concluded that they would all be doomed if Kuvira managed to figure out how to harness the power of the vines taken from the Foggy Swamp.
As one of the two most brilliant minds in Republic City, Varrick was later called to City Hall by President Raiko to work together with Asami to find a defense against Kuvira's spirit vine-charged super weapon. As Varrick noted how nice it was to be welcomed back with open arms, he was quickly corrected by the president that he was there out of necessity as opposed to a voluntary choice. In turn, Varrick corrected the president when he brought up his kidnapping attempt of him to say that he only "allegedly" tried to that. He cowered back, however, when Asami snapped at him for doing everything "allegedly", though when she brought up the bombing of the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center, he defended himself by noting that he was the owner of that building and thus had the right to blow up his own property. On Raiko's urging, the two stopped bickering and Varrick readily offered his hand to Asami to shake on a new partnership, though as she took it, she placed his hand in a lock to emphasize her threat that he better not double-cross her again, causing him to squirm in pain and quickly nod in agreement.
Varrick and Asami came up with the idea of manufacturing a mecha suit that could fly in every direction. When they reported back to the president, he cheated Asami out of revealing the idea, though still gave her the credit for having come up with it after witnessing dragonfly hummingbirds. When Raiko asked where the spirit ray was positioned, Varrick sternly told the president that they would not include such a weapon, as he deemed the spirit vine technology to be too dangerous to be used by anyone.
Later, while overseeing the manufacturing of the hummingbird mecha suits, inspiring his workers to increase their productivity since they only had two weeks to finish the project, Varrick was interrupted by Bolin, who wished to talk to him. He was shocked when Bolin revealed that he had brought back Zhu Li from his rescue mission at Zaofu. Zhu Li urged him to listen to her first before he said anything. After she apologized for all the things she had said to him in front of Kuvira and revealed that he meant the world to her, Varrick told her she did not need to be so hard on herself. Although he gently reached for her as if he was going to cup her cheek, he grabbed a hold of her shoulder at the last moment and exuberantly exclaimed that he accepted her apology, before ordering her to man the assembly line like a good assistant. Much to his shock, Zhu Li refused to be his assistant any longer and demanded to be treated like an equal. As she stormed out, a clueless Varrick turned to Bolin and shrugged, much to the latter's annoyance.
A week later, Varrick received the help of Asami, Bolin, Mako, Suyin, Wei, and Wing to get at least a few hummingbird suits to working condition, since Kuvira's arrival was a week ahead of schedule. After she arrived hours later and sunk the United Forces' battleships in a matter of seconds with the spirit energy cannon, Varrick exclaimed that such destruction was exactly the reason why he had refused to build the weapon. When Korra later joined them at the factory, alerting them all that Raiko had surrendered, leaving the fate of the city in their hands, he stated that Baatar Jr. was a better inventor than he had originally thought for having been able to manufacture such a large mecha suit, though noted that no one was allowed to tell Baatar Jr. that. The comment gave Korra the idea to kidnap Baatar Jr. with the help of a stealth team of airbenders. As she brought Kuvira's second-in-command to the factory as well, Varrick stood by while she and Suyin tried to convince him to reveal how they could defeat the enormous mecha suit carrying the spirit energy weapon. After Baatar Jr. contacted Kuvira and seemingly succeeded to convince her to cease her conquest of the United Republic, Varrick was forced to run for his life when Kuvira traced Baatar Jr.'s radio call toward the factory and blew it up with her spirit energy cannon.
Varrick managed to survive the explosion and emerged from the rubble with everyone else when Bolin lifted an enormous piece of concrete. When Korra and Lin announced that they refused to give up Republic City to Kuvira and would take on her spirit energy cannon, Varrick noted that the benders were on their own, since the blast had destroyed all of the hummingbird mecha suits at their factory. After Asami reasoned that they could adapt the remaining prototypes to get them airborne, he left with her and all the wounded toward her office at Future Industries Tower, while the benders faced Kuvira and her army in an attempt to stop them or at the very least, slow them down. Despite their best efforts, Varrick, Zhu Li, and Asami had trouble getting the hummingbird suits to work. Believing he had fixed the hydraulics, he told Asami and Zhu Li to test out one of the suits. When Asami soon discovered that she was unable to stabilize the machine, blaming him for failing to fix it, he dismissed her complaint and ordered her to twist harder, though the suit spun out of control and crashed. After Daw warned them all that a platoon of mecha suits was incoming, Varrick announced that he knew how to take them down and promptly ordered Asami to disconnect all the electrical devices, before running out of her office with Zhu Li.
The duo made their way to the roof of the tall tower and, after equipping Zhu Li with a spool of metal cables, started to climb the lightning rod. Varrick reasoned that since he could stop the regular sized mecha suits with a normal electromagnetic pulse, an enormous pulse could stop an enormous suit. As he was adjusting the wiring to put his plan into motion, he revealed to Zhu Li that he had been thinking a lot about her, admitting that there were several things he should tell her since there was a chance that they would not survive the battle with Kuvira. He started to recall his early life and ostrich horse, though before he could reach the point of his story, Zhu Li notified him that Kuvira's troops were within range. As she flipped the switch to the electromagnetic pulse, Varrick excitedly saw that the regular mecha suits all shut down, though was shocked to find the enormous suit unaffected. Panicked, he called for Zhu Li to "do the thing", though she sadly answered that she feared there were "no more things to do".
Returning inside, Varrick was asked by Bolin why his electromagnetic pulse attack had left Kuvira's enormous suit unaffected, though before he could answer, Baatar Jr. explained that it was because the suit was powered by spirit vine energy. When Hiroshi joined their group and postulated the idea to add plasma saws to the hummingbird mecha suits so they were able to land on Kuvira's machine and cut through its armor like a metal mosquito, Varrick alerted them all to the dangers of being crushed, prompting Korra to declare that the benders would distract Kuvira to keep that from happening. As such, following Hiroshi's lead, he, Asami, and Zhu Li added an electrical element to the welding torches already on their suits and converted them into plasma saws.
When the suits were ready and Zhu Li was about to board, Varrick walked up to her and, after swallowing nervously, declared that he needed to "attach" something before they took off. As Zhu Li was puzzled about the meaning of his words, he promptly opened the small box he was holding, revealing the green ring it held inside, and dropped to his knee, asking her if she would "do the thing for the rest of [their] lives". When she accepted his proposal, he slipped the ring on her finger and kissed her, before taking her in his arms and excitedly announce that they would go attack Kuvira's high-tech machine with their "barely-functional" prototype suits. The two subsequently boarded the same mecha suit, with Zhu Li being the pilot and Varrick manning the welding torch.
Approaching Kuvira's machine, Varrick told Zhu Li to land on the spot in the middle of the enormous suit's back, guiding her by making a comparison to a specific spot on his own back that he could never reach. The moment they touched down, Varrick started welding, though before he could inflict any serious damage, they were forced to abort their attempt, lest they would be crushed. Hovering at a safe distance, Varrick noted that he wished he had the kind of flexibility the suit had as to be able to reach that spot. They tried to land again, though Kuvira kept lashing out at them, preventing them from attempting another attack. Eventually, Varrick and Zhu Li's suit had a wing blown off when Kuvira fired her spirit energy cannon. Before they crashed against a building, Zhu Li flipped the ejection seat switches and she and Varrick floated off to safety with their parachutes.
Having made a safe landing, Varrick and Zhu Li eventually made their way to the heart of the Spirit Wilds, where now a new spirit portal was located. Realizing Korra and Kuvira were nowhere to be found, Varrick and the rest of Team Avatar set out to search the area, scouring his surroundings from atop the wreckage of the enormous mecha suit. After all the spirits returned a moment later, he was glad to see that Korra emerged from the portal as well. After Kuvira was handcuffed and escorted away, Varrick joined in with the group hug the team bestowed on Korra.
Following Kuvira's defeat, Varrick and Zhu Li received permission from Tenzin to hold their wedding ceremony and party at Air Temple Island, decorating parts of the island in a winter theme. While Bolin acted as the official during their ceremony, Varrick snapped at one of his cameramen to focus on him because it was his big day, as opposed to randomly filming the audience, and gave Bolin a skeptical look when the earthbender described his bond with Zhu Li as the "longest of long shots". His demeanor swiftly changed, however, when Bolin asked him if he, "Sir Iknik Blackstone Varrick of the Southern Water Tribe, master of the high seas", would take the Lady Zhu Li Moon as his lawfully wedded wife and treat her as his honored and cherished partner, to which he excitedly answered positively. In his own vows, Varrick had described a list of tasks that Zhu Li would have to perform, scrubbing his calluses on a bi-weekly basis being one of them, which Bolin refused to read. When Zhu Li accepted nonetheless and Bolin announced that they could "do the thing", Varrick was dipped by his wife so she could kiss him. As the couple turned to the now applauding audience, Varrick started to cry out of happiness. Wiping his tears, he took a remote out of his pocket and, together with Zhu Li, he flipped the switch, setting off a firework display.
In the aftermath of Kuvira's invasion of the United Republic of Nations, Varrick joined his wife and other volunteers at the temporary evacuee camp. One evening, he was helping Zhu Li, Kya, and Tenzin distribute the last of the food rations to the hungry evacuees. When they ran out of supplies and the gathered crowd started to protest, Varrick asked in a panic what they should do now, as the evacuees had already devoured his entire supply of Varri-cakes. Despite the shortage, he produced one last cake he had saved for himself and immediately devoured the pastry, defending himself against the disapproving looks from Zhu Li, Tenzin, and Kya that he could not work on an empty stomach.
When Zhu Li was stressing about the situation and the fact that President Raiko was actively working against her, Varick led her away from the crowd and inside a nearby tent, noting that he could not stand to see her so bent out of shape, and suggested that she massage her troubles away. Inside, he positioned himself on a chair and told Zhu Li to not hold back with the pressure, as he was especially tight in the shoulders. When she glared at him, noting that she had been under the impression that she was the one to be massaged, a nervous Varrick immediately switched places with her, vowing to be the best "shoulder-kneader" ever for her. During the massage, Zhu Li asked Varrick for his opinion on the possibility that she would run for president against Raiko. He was immediately enthusiastic about the idea, ensuring her that she would win as she was the most "tenacious, brilliant, inspiring woman" he knew and that the people loved her. When Zhu Li, comforted by his words, agreed with him and announced that she would run for president, an enthusiastic Varrick swept her off her feet, declaring that her decision called for a celebration.
As one of the wealthiest people in the world, Varrick is used to having his every need catered to. Since no one is willing to disagree with him, he sometimes comes to believe his own stories, such as when he thought he was levitating, a belief with which everyone went along. He is also a good judge of character, prepares for any issue well, and can quickly come up with a plan to avoid danger. However, at times he can also be impulsive, not thinking through all the consequences of his actions, like when he started a rebellion against Unalaq. This does not mean, however, that he is always incorrect about there being a need for action. Varrick loves being able to do what he pleases on his own terms, and as such, does not like to date clingy women, even going as far as building a yacht to escape from them.
Varrick has been shown to be rude at times, such as barging in right after Unalaq's speech or rudely interrupting a serious conversation between Korra and Suyin with one of his experiments.
Varrick's eccentricities also masks his more dubious nature, as a sly and slick businessman who uses underhanded means to get what he wants, even if it means breaking the law. As such, he is not above being unfettered and charismatic, and is able to orchestrate large scale operations to buy out other companies just to increase his own wealth.
Despite this, Varrick does have redeeming features and a conscience, which he mistakes as being "voices in his head". He considers hurting others to be beneath him and felt guilty upon realizing that his actions had brought harm to some of his allies. As a result, he helped Team Avatar, readily aiding them despite there being no monetary benefit, and was adamant about terminating his spirit vine project, wary about the destructive power it held if weaponized.
Varrick was very dependent on Zhu Li, requiring her assistance for many different tasks, such as preparing his tea, scratching an irritable rash or to cater to him within prison. He frequently uses the phrase, "Do the thing!" to prompt someone to take whatever action is necessary at any given time. In addition, he mostly relies on his men and associates to do his dirty work, as he rarely participates in any of his planned schemes in order to keep a low profile.
Varrick is an innovative thinker and aggressive businessman, having been able to expand his company from one canoe to a global network. As an entrepreneur, Varrick is also keen on identifying and capitalizing on the needs of those around him. Similarly, he is able to convince others to work for his betterment, essentially having convinced the rebels to incite war against the North in order to benefit his business. Partly due to his company's technological advances, Varrick is capable of piloting ships and commandeering a yacht. Varrick is also physically fit, usually ending his brainstorming sessions by performing an elaborate flip off a bar he uses to hang himself upside down.
Varrick is well-disciplined and knowledgeable in various fields of science, having spearheaded several technological advancements. His breakthroughs include applications of magnetism, such as a high-speed maglev train, and the stabilization of spirit energy, though he later discovered that it was too dangerous for anyone to handle. He is also good at thinking on his feet, being able to create a makeshift electromagnetic pulse device with the aid of a metal table leg and an electric generator.
Varrick has shown himself to be charismatic, which enables him to talk his way out of many situations as well as entertain people by telling stories. He is also a master of deception, using the Avatar to help instigate a civil war, rob Asami blind of her assets, and drive a wedge between Mako and Bolin, all the while maintaining sympathy for the South and making a profit from the war. He is also a master strategist, being able to plan false flag operations that his men or associates would execute at key moments. It was only by process of elimination that Mako realized Varrick's culpability in the acts of terrorism on Republic City while the masses simply assumed the Northern Tribe was guilty.
- Varrick is described as being "equal parts Howard Hughes and Richard Branson".
- His eccentric mannerisms and quick temper are also reminiscent of William Randolph Hearst, and his use of openly filmed footage of the civil war spliced with additional fake footage in his propaganda movers is similar to a practice Hearst used during World War I.
- Varrick has been referred to as a "captain of industry".
- There were rumors that Varrick was willing to deal with underworld characters and gangsters if he thinks it will turn a profit. These rumors were confirmed by Mako after investigations of recent bombings and the theft of Future Industries' entire supply of weaponry.
- Varrick is a self-proclaimed "biz-bender".
- Varrick invented the moving picture, which he calls "movers", and his first "mover" is a reference to Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, one of the first photographic experiments which led to the development of motion pictures.
- Varrick has a habit of using his name as a prefix in almost every product he advertises, such as Varri-dye and Varri-cakes.
- Varrick named a measure of power after himself and a measure of weight after his assistant, Zhu Li.
- Despite having designed the modernized mecha suits, he is not proficient in piloting them.
- Varrick is the third character in The Legend of Korra, after Tarrlok and Ghazan, to attempt suicide, though he is the only one to have survived.
- Varrick was shown to be knowledgeable of the Chinese hand system when he used the gesture for "six" when saying "six wolfbats".
- Varrick and Zhu Li are the fourth couple in the whole franchise to be seen getting married, the first being Roku and Ta Min, Ozai and Ursa, and Ikem and Ursa.