|“||Zhu Li, do the thing.||„|
Varrick is a shifty and unscrupulous businessman and the (former) hidden quaternary antagonist of The Legend of Korra Book 2. Though outwardly appearing pleasant, if not also scatter-brained and impulsive, in actuality Varrick is shown to be a scheming and conniving individual who is even willing to start a war involving his own people in the name of profit.
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.
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.
Countering Kuvira's Attack And Marriage
When Varrick finally returned to Republic City, he told the assembled world leaders about Kuvira's superweapon. Shortly after, Raiko officially pardoned him for his crimes, but only to enlist his (along with Asami's) help in a preemptive strike on Kuvira. Asami threatened him not to double-cross her again as she agreed to be partners with him once more.
Together, he and Asami constructed hummingbird mechs capable of flight in any direction. Later, as he was constructing the mechs, Zhu Li returned to Republic City, where she apologized and confessed romantic feelings for Varrick. He remained totally oblivious to her true feelings, but accepted her apology and told her to man the assembly line. This caused Zhu Li to grow angry with him and demand that she be treated as an equal.
After the hummingbird mech factory was destroyed by Kuvira, Varrick thought the benders were going to have to face Kuvira on their own until Asami revealed that she still had two prototypes in her office. As he was disabling the mechs with a giant electromagnetic pulse, he told Zhu Li a story about an ostrich-horse that he took for granted, which was intended to lead in to a marriage proposal. He was interrupted as the mechs were approaching, and disabled all except the Colossus itself. When Hiroshi installed plasma saws onto the hummingbird mechs to infiltrate the Colossus, Varrick finally proposed to Zhu Li, and they sealed their engagement with a kiss. They had little success infiltrating the Colossus and were forced to flee before they were crushed, staying out of the fight for the remainder of the battle.
After Kuvira's defeat, Varrick and Zhu Li are wed by Bolin at Air Temple Island.
- He was based off of Howard Hughs, though the personality traits he takes from the real-life businessman are shown to be mostly an act.
- It is rumored in-universe that he has been known to dabble in the Black Market to make a profit, but these rumors are unconfirmed. Given what he has been confirmed to be guilty of already, it is feasible.