King Bumi is a contender, though it is hard to say specifically because his full knowledge was kept somewhat vague. He has some of the most impressive earthbending feats of the entire franchise and seems spiritual in his own unique way. He had a sophisticated understanding of the concept of jing and the nature of earthbending. He also has an insane range with his bending and can bend with just twitching his face which shows an incredible degree of control.
Toph by the time she is an old woman is also a strong choice. She was trained by the original earthbenders. She seemingly invented seismic sense. Invented metalbending. Was at least aware of lavabending. Ended up inventing the crazy wire fighting metalbending style the metalbending police use. Her metalbending was so good she could pull liquid metal poison out of a person's body through their pores better than anyone else on the planet.
I actually don't know if there's any bender more innovative to their style than Toph was. She didn't just invent a whole new sub-element; she also refined it to a precise art and saw it evolve into a bunch of unique styles within her own lifetime.
Maul. Grievous was a huge disappointment outside of the 2003 clone wars cartoon. He's just a weaselly little coward
To be honest, I've never really got the "coward" vibe from Grievous. He runs away when he's out matched, true. But that isn't cowardice. It is being smart. He's a soldier in a war. More than that he's a general. If he dies the droid army loses its best commander and the Separatists lose the war.
He's also not literally magic like the people we see him retreat from. Grievous had to dramatically augment his body to perform at the level of a jedi in combat, but he can't replicate the Force nor really protect himself from it. Grievous is at a massive disadvantage every time he engages any Force user, which is why he uses his magna guards and droids to help tip the scales back in his favor.
It is odd for the antagonist to actually be the underdog in a fantasy epic like Star Wars, but that is Grievous' situation. He has to fight smarter or he'll get crushed by someone dropping an ATAT on him.
Heroes aren't supposed to use lethal force. It is why they don't carry handguns everywhere they go. This would also be why she doesn't make bladed weapons like swords, knives, and shuriken.
Full body armor might be too taxing on her. Not to mention that it'd appear beneath her clothes if she tried to summon it around her. It comes from her skin after all.
Which is probably why she goes for a metal pipe. Fiction has an odd tendency to assume blunt force trauma isn't fatal for some reason.
So the most reasonable thing for her to create for combat would be a stun gun or stun baton. Some form of taser as you suggested.
As for espionage she already uses her quirk for that. She produces all sorts of intelligence devices like cameras, timers, etc. She also makes blankets and stuff when needed.
Honestly her quirk lends itself very well to being a recue hero, not a combat hero. Keep in mind MHA is about heroes, not fighters. The support and rescue folks are every bit as vital as the people doing combat.
I am going to have to say Return of the Jedi. People talk about the duels in both being epic, but James Earl Jones really blew it out of the park with Vader. You can hear the regret in his voice. Feel the conflict stirring in his heart. That is an incredible accomplishment for a masked character cut off from facial expressions.
A lot of my favorite Star Wars moments and characters came from Revenge. General Grievous, Obi-Wan and Anakin's duel, Yoda vs Sidious, Sidious' rise to power, etc. But Returns really struck a chord with me. The relentless optimism and hope in Luke vs the stoic self loathing of Vader and his programming by Darth Sidious. It is a strong story. Very strong.
Hard to say. I feel like I enjoy RotS more when I bust it out once every few years. The action is all around so good and it has a weight of epicness about it due to being the culmination of events before it. But a lot of that weight comes from being the capstone of a story. The climactic ending. A story that was also deeply fleshed out by the Clone Wars series which gave it more depth and intrigue than the movies themselves could have.
That said if I were to watch one of these a couple times in a row I'd much rather do A New Hope because it is just a much better put together movie with no awkward bits that bring it down.
I guess it is hard for me to really compare the climactic end of a story to the softer beginning of another. I like them for very different reasons.
Very nice work. Korra's bending isn't always very flashy, but you showcased the sheer precision, tactical applications, and subtly of some of her moves very well. Especially her earthbending, which many consider to be one of her weakest elements. You showed off how she uses it to destabilize and surprise her opponents. Catch them off guard or trip them up. Korra is a very intelligent and tactical fighter.