|“||Zhu Li, do the thing.||„|
|~ Varrick (frequently)|
Iknik Blackstone Varrick, more commonly known as Varrick, is the major supporting character of the Nickelodeon show, The Legend of Korra. He is an eccentric and charismatic billionaire known for his ambitious nature and flamboyant fashion style. Born in the Southern Water Tribe, he enjoys gallivanting across the globe on his yacht and flaunting his extravagant lifestyle, often at the expense of his assistant, 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 is on the run.
Business with Future Industries
Varrick first appears as a man with whom Asami attempts to start a partnership with in the hope that it will save Future Industries, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. When Asami goes to meet him with Bolin, Varrick seems to take an immediate liking to the latter, and the two soon become fast friends. However, when Unalaq and his forces take over the Southern Water Tribe, Varrick shows a less innocent side of himself when he begins strongly pushing for armed resistance to the North's occupation. When the tensions boil over into all out conflict, Varrick flees to Republic City along with Korra and her friends. Once there, he convinces Korra to get the president of Republic City on their side. When this doesn't work, Varrick suggests that Korra should go behind his back while simultaneously working with Asami to ship Mecha-Tanks to the beleaguered South. He also decides to dress Bolin up as the star of blatant propaganda films in the hopes of boosing morale for the war.
Orchestrating a War
Varrick's villainous nature is revealed in the episode "The Sting" where Mako realizes that the explosives used to bomb both the Southern Water Tribe Cultral Center (an act that worsens the tensions between the two Water Tribes) and also Varrick's own shipments to the South are of his own company's design. Unfortunately, by the time Mako realizes this Varrick's actions have already left Future Industries and Asami in financial ruin, allowing Varrick to buy a controlling share and "save" Asami's company while simultaneously putting her in his pocket. When Mako confronts him about this and refuses to be intimidated by Varrick's threats, the scheming businessman has Mako framed for his own crimes.
Despite his best efforts though, Varrick is later exposed after Bolin foils his attempt to kidnap Republic City's president and blame it on the Northern Water Tribe so as to get Republic City into the war. Following his imprisonment in a specially made prison cell, Varrick claims that he regrets his past actions and to make amends gives Asami her Future Industries vehicles back, along with the war-ship he had stored them on (which he named after his assistant).
When the Dark Avatar goes on a rampage through Republic City, Varrick's jail cell is destroyed in the process, allowing him and his assistant to escape.
Life in the Earth Kingdom
After Harmonic Convergence, Team Avatar travel to the metal city of Zaofu, where they find Varrick is living, along with Zhu Li. Varrick is old friends with Suyin Beifong (the leader of Zaofu), and she appointed him as head of the technology department. While Bolin was glad to see him again, Asami Sato and Lin Beifong were not.
When Team Avatar is searching for a traitor following Zaheer's attempted abduction of Korra in Zaofu, Varrick suggests that someone planted in the evidence in the accused guard's house, similar to what he did with Mako. Their suspicions are confirmed when it is revealed that Aiwei planted the evidence.
Three years after the defeat of the Order of the Red Lotus, Varrick left the Metal Clan to join Kuvira on her mission to unite (and conquer) the Earth Kingdom, and dealt with the technological duties. After Kuvira forced President Raiko to pardon Varrick and allow him back into Republic City, he attended Prince Wu's coronation, and supported his commander's speech. During his stay in the city, he collected numerous spirit vines for the construction of new technology.
While experimenting with the spirit vines, the energy from the vine almost destroyed the machine and killed Varrick, and he realized that such a weapon would be dangerous if placed in the wrong hands. Although he knew how much money he could make with the project, he resolved to put a stop to it. Kuvira responded by tightening the metal around his neck and threatening to kill him, and he agreed to continue his research, albeit under close watch from Kuvira's soldiers.
Deserting Kuvira's army
After Bolin is threatened by Kuvira himself, he helps Varrick and Zhu Li escape from her train, and the three of them sneak out of the camp set up just outside Zaofu in mecha tank suits while Varrick proposes that they warn other people about the power of Kuvira's potential superweapon. Soon after, Baatar Jr. and two more soldiers find the trio, and at the end of the ensuing battle, Baatar places them under arrest, and Kuvira sentences them to be sent to a prison camp. It was at this point that Varrick's loyal assistant betrayed him and pledged herself to Kuvira's cause, leaving him and Bolin to be imprisoned.
While imprisoned, Baatar Jr. ordered Varrick to resume the spirit vine research, and he was able to convince him to make Bolin his new assistant. He noted that he originally planned to make the vines into a form of clean energy as opposed to a weapon of mass destruction. Baatar Jr. told Varrick to walk him through the construction of the weapon, but soon after, Varrick set off a timer that would activate the weapon in five minutes' time, destroying the research and killing everyone on board. When Baatar Jr. and his soldiers had exited the train cart, Varrick told Bolin to disconnect their own car from the rest of the train. They narrowly escape the resulting explosion, leading Baatar Jr. to suspect that they had indeed been killed in the blast. They escaped through an underground tunnel, and Varrick thanked Bolin for "doing the thing".
They began their journey to Republic City on foot. Varrick spent most of the time riding on Bolin's back and lamenting the betrayal of Zhu Li. Varrick regretted giving Kuvira the superweapon technology and wished to atone by warning the world of her plans. They soon fell for a hunting trap and were discovered by some of Kuvira's escaped war prisoners, who recognized their Earth Empire soldier outfits and planned to use them as hostages to make their way past a border checkpoint. After convincing the escapees that they had defected, Varrick and Bolin teamed up with them and resolved to escape the Earth Empire.
After they succeeded in getting past the checkpoint, one of the soldiers recognized Varrick and Bolin as traitors and a battle ensued. Varrick was forced to retreat, and found a generator inside the guard's office, where he built an electromagnetic pulse device, disabling the mechas so he, Bolin and the escapees could flee. Their escape successful, Varrick reluctantly boarded their small boat and headed north towards Republic City.
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.
During the dinner party, Varrick led his wife in a dance, though afterward he went to search for Tenzin, intending to borrow one of the airbender wingsuits to fly off the temple's tower.
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 that everyone went along with. 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'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. Upon realizing the Spirit Vines' destructive nature, Varrick refused to help Kuvira any further, despite the profits, knowing if it fell into the wrong hands that it could unleash untold destruction.
Varrick is very dependent on Zhu Li, requiring her 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 Zhu Li 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.