I think it's possible, but there's actually no evidence in the cartoon whatsoever.
And there's no evidence Iroh was considered weaker than Ozai. But again, Iroh's the one with medals under his belt. So far, the only medal we've ever seen Ozai receive is Ursa.
So? Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. That's my point, that your "headcanon" isn't the only possible legitimate interpretation of what we were shown.
The fact of the matter remains that Iroh is the only one we've seen to have possessed any amount of respect or fear from others without being Fire Lord. Meanwhile, the only time we've ever seen Ozai receive any amount of respect is after he became Fire Lord and we still haven't seen him do anything great before becoming king except burning some practice dummies and getting Ursa knocked up. And Azulon shows him little to no respect in the flashbacks. The closest he gets is the scene with Ursa, in which he never even addresses Ozai personally.
But we can easily turn all of that around on Iroh. The only time we've seen Iroh get any kind of respect is after he retired, and only from a bunch of exiles like Zuko's crew. We never saw Iroh do anything great before Zuko's exile; in fact, the only thing we know about Iroh's career is a phenomenal failure that left him completely dishonored. Azulon shows no respect to Iroh in any flashback, aside possibly from some nebulous statement about the importance of birth order
There's just no evidence that Azulon favored Iroh as anything but The One Who Was Born First.
For his own gain, we don't know why exactly he chose Ozai instead of Iroh, but the one other flashback we have of Azulon and Ozai doesn't suggest he admires Ozai over Iroh. Granted, he may have seen Ozai as possessing great strength in his own right, but that doesn't mean he saw him as competent or skilled or better.
Nor does it mean he doesn't. It's that whole "lack of evidence" thing. It means it can go both ways. And considering that this comic is already trying to make us think that it will completely upend Zuko's character arc by making him an illegitimate child of Ursa's who didn't inherit Sozin's legacy and was abused by his father solely for being a sign of his wife's infidelity, I don't think you can argue that we need to stick to your read of the intent of the original scenes and story.
As to Azulon's mourning for Lu Ten. While we see no real signs of remorse for Lu Ten, he acknowledges Iroh's suffering and finds Ozai's request immediately after Lu Ten's death insulting:
"You dare suggest I betray Iroh? My first born? Directly after the demise of his only beloved son? I think Iroh has suffered enough, but you...your punishment has scarcely begun!"
Two things seem clear here:
1.)Azulon was likely going to give the throne to Iroh anyway, regardless of Lu Ten's death since to take the birthright away from Iroh was "betrayal" in his mind, regardless of the circumstances.
...yeah? That doesn't mean he favors Iroh over Ozai, he just respects how things are supposed to be. You make your first born heir, you don't steal something from someone immediately after their whole world was collapsed, and you don't make requests with a timing that suggests you believe the guy you're requesting things from is going to kick the bucket soon.
2.)The death of his grandson and the shame of his second son is well worth the price for insulting Iroh and Azulon himself as far as the old Fire Lord is concerned.
...yeah? We are
talking about a dude who's perpetrating a war of conquest and ethnic cleansing who comes from a warrior culture. I don't think this is as big a deal as you're making it out. Azulon looked like he never even met his grandchildren before, and he certainly didn't seem impressed by Zuko.
Nothing suggests that Azulon would have ever considered giving the throne to anyone else but Iroh, although he appears to have known why Ozai wanted to see him.
I'm not saying that Ozai had a shot. I'm saying that he didn't necessarily value Iroh any more than Ozai aside from the order-of-birth thing. Which is the rule of the land.
You really need to read what I'm typing and not go off on why your headcanon works.
Ozai cited Iroh's loss of his son and his abandonment of the Siege as proof that Iroh did not deserve the throne any longer, but there is nothing to suggest that Iroh had a history of failure.
Nor is there anything to suggest that Iroh had anything more than a mediocre career. Again, "lack of evidence is not evidence of lack."
There is much more to suggest that Iroh had a long history of success since characters who know his past tend to speak of him as being a legend before his failure.
Actually, if you go back and actually look, no one but Jee and one Earth Kingdom soldier refers to Iroh as anyone but the guy who lost Ba Sing Se. Literally, Jee simply says "esteemed," and the Earth Kingdom guy says (very sarcastically) "the once great." Keep in mind, the Fire Nation is a giant propaganda machine, and would likely hype up the Crown Prince leading and army out to conquer the capital of the enemy nation. I'm sure Iroh was hyped up, and probably even had some talent and a lack of major failure. But he probably also given all the best troops, all the resources he needed, and of course had the ear of the Fire Lord himself.
Iroh was possibly the most over-hyped military leader the Fire Nation ever had, a mediocre commander who couldn't deliver when things got tough.
And, certainly, Azulon said nothing to indicate he bought into that hype.
We don't have anything comparable with Ozai. Perhaps there's nothing to suggest that Ozai was a big screw up, I'll give that. The fact that Azulon was willing to give him Ursa to create his master race suggests he at least saw some potential in his second son, if only to just make strong descendants who could eventually marry their cousins.
This is good.
But he could have considered Iroh for the job first, which is entirely possible since Iroh was going to take the throne and Azulon sees this as not being up for debate.
It's possible, I'll definitely give you that. But it's also possible that, because the point was to create powerful Firebender babies, Azulon honed in on Ozai because Ozai was possibly the better and stronger Firebender.
But Iroh could have still been married or his wife could have just recently passed.
Possible, far from definite.
Since Azulon cares so much about Iroh's feelings it seems, he probably would have thought it improper to ask Iroh, who would have only within the last few years had a son with his wife at the time or who could have lost his wife and may have still been shooken up, to take another woman.
You string together a good story, but at this point you're doing what I'm doing- taking tidbits that can be interpreted in various ways (and assuming that Iroh's wife wasn't already ten years in the ground) and making up a story that's merely possible.
I'm not sure why you're so intent on bashing any other theories. It's not really in the spirit of "discussion," you know?
It's possible that Iroh could have been a slacker or not very talented when he was younger and that Azulon sent him into battle to shape him up, sure,
but the idea that Iroh was seen as bringing shame upon his family and was just a Zuko-tier failure in Azulon's eyes doesn't have much of a leg to stand on, if any.
Well, how do you define "Zuko-tier?" I'm talking Zuko before he got banished, since Iroh obviously did nothing to merit being banished. I'm just saying it was possible that Iroh was a weak Firebender who only got better later in life, long after a Crown Prince would have been expected to, and had an unremarkable military career up until he convinced his father and some political allies to back his "grand adventure" to Ba Sing Se.
Azulon is still willing to give the throne to Iroh even after Iroh lost his son and abandoned the campaign against the EK capital. He wouldn't be willing to do that if Iroh's recent disgrace was just a colossal failure to him.
I'm not sure what you're saying. It was
a colossal failure. Are you saying that Azulon didn't care about Ba Sing Se at all?
Iroh at least, in Azulon's mind, well deserves his birthright
By virtue of being first born. Nothing more is said.
and Azulon sympathizes with his loss.
So? I'm not saying he hated Iroh, just that he didn't consider Iroh his special flower?
Ozai must have shown some promise for Azulon to think it'd be worth it to give him Ursa and so there is a possibility that in terms of skills as a Firebender he could been Iroh's equal or even his superior, but Azulon still saw Iroh as fit to rule, even without descendants.
No, he saw Iroh as having a right
to rule. You know, "birthright?" Big difference.
Iroh could have been weaker than Ozai, but he must have at least shown better leadership skills or had plenty of successes that even if Ozai was more powerful and more intelligent, coupled with Iroh's birthright it still made Iroh more than capable of being Fire Lord.
This is all supposition, but I'm really not sure what point you're driving at here. Nothing here suggests that Azulon liked Iroh better throughout their lives. He was upset with Ozai for one really stupid move. All parents get really upset with their kids at some point.
Perhaps calling Ozai "second rate," is not right, but he'd have to be at least "second best" in Azulon's eyes for some reason.
See, this is where you go off the cliff and start making junk up with no evidence. You yourself said that Iroh had the birthright thing going for him. If Azulon favored both sons equally, and then Iroh had the birthright, that's enough to explain everyone's actions and dialogue.
By Azulon's standards, Iroh was perfectly suited to be Fire Lord even after his failure at Ba Sing Se and Ozai was not.
Again, you're making junk up. Iroh was suited to be Fire Lord, but not necessarily perfectly
, and nothing ever indicated that Azulon didn't think Ozai wasn't suited. Just that he didn't want to overturn the birthright.
Either Ozai was "good, but not great," or he was better than Iroh, but Azulon just liked Iroh better.
Or, hey, both guys were good or great, and Iroh was born first.
WHAT A TWIST.
But Iroh being a total screw-up just doesn't make sense.
I never said "total screw-up." Just that he had his share of weaknesses and that they were apparent.
I'm getting the sense that you're a big fan of extreme opinions.
It's okay, I've been known to indulge, myself.
The real second best son, but still the most loved one? Sure, that could work. Ozai could be the better one, but his talents just go unused or unrecognized because Azulon likes Iroh's character better. I could see that.
Yeah, I don't know what you even think I was proposing, before.