Avatar: The Last Airbender: What we know and don’t know about the new Netflix show

Avatar: The Last Airbender, photo courtesy Nickelodeon
Avatar: The Last Airbender, photo courtesy Nickelodeon /

In September 2018, Netflix announced a live-action remake of the classic cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

It would be the second time that the series was getting the live-action treatment, with the first attempt being helmed by M. Night Shyamalan, which was received very poorly by the fans.

But the three-season series is well-loved enough that Netflix possibly thinks it would do well if remade once again, and the presumption would not be wrong since the show has been doing quite well since it was added to Netflix’s catalog last year.

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is still in the pre-production stage, and not a lot of details have yet been made known to the public, but fans are getting wary with each new detail about the show that comes out, even if it’s not a lot.

Avatar: The Last Airbender showrunners left the Netflix show

When the series was first announced, there was excitement all around because Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, co-creators of the original animated series were going to be part of the Netflix adaptation as well. This seemed to promise that the live-action series would possibly maybe not suffer the same fate as the infamous 2009 live-action movie.

But in August, 2020, DiMartino wrote an open letter announcing that both him and Konietzko had quit the production of the Netflix series. He explained that despite a mutual agreement with Netflix that the streaming service would be committed to “honoring their vision for this retelling and to supporting them on creating the series”, things did not go as he hoped.

While the adaptation we do see on the screen might just end up being good, DiMartino made it a point to distance himself and Konietzko from it.

He wrote:

"“I can be certain that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”"

On the bright side, both DiMartino and Konietzko have moved to work with Avatar: The Last Airbender’s first home, Nickelodeon, joining as the co-creative chief officers of Avatar Studios, announced by ViacomCBS, an entirely new studio that will be based on the worlds established in The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra.

Avatar: The Last Airbender cast

One of the major criticisms that the live-action movie from 2009 faced was the blatant white-washing of characters.

As of 2019, Konietzko said on an Instagram post that there were no big announcements regarding casting as the show is still very much in its pre-production stage. That said, both DiMartino and Konietzko assured their fans that the casting would be race-appropriate and true to the depiction of the series, when the series was first announced.

Initially, both the creators had been extremely keen on involving Dante Basco, voice actor for Zuko in the animated series, in the show. Basco clarified that though he was not fully involved, he was definitely in the talks for the same with the creators.

Now, with the original showrunners decision to step away from the show, it means things are up in the air, but despite that, one can only hope that Netflix stays true to their statement.

Avatar characters will be older in the Netflix show

In a so far uncontested report from Illuminerdi, Katara will be aged up to 16 and will allegedly play the role of an older sister to younger brother Sokka. Feels strange to even think of the duo like that.

Aang is reportedly to remain 12, which inevitably raises the question of whether or not Aang and Katara will be the lead romantic pairing as in the original series. It can be safely speculated that the Katara’s aging up could be a strong hint towards a major change – a romantic arc with Zuko, given that Fire – Water pairing is very popular with the fans.

Illuminerdi’s report has neither been confirmed or denied by anyone involved with the show so far, and fans have not been taking it well.

The project is yet to have a release date, and not much else is known about it, but everyone who has loved the original series is looking forward to it with a sense of both dread and anticipation. Time will tell if Netflix will do the classic justice or if it will fail to recreate all the charm and magic of the original series.

We’ll let you know when the new Netflix original series is coming to Netflix!

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