Netflix and Original Avatar: The Last Airbender Creators Announce Live-Action Adaptation

Tuesday, news hit that Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Bryan Koneitzko and Michael Dante DiMartino would be collaborating with streaming giant Netflix to bring the story back in live-action. This would be the second time someone has tried to adapt it in live-action, but the infamous 2010 Nickelodeon film was made by M. Night Shyamalan with little oversight by Konietzko or DiMartino. Here’s a statement straight from DiMartino’s Facebook about the new series:

“Yes, this is really happening! I’m excited to be writing again with Bryan as we bring Aang’s story into live-action, the way we had always envisioned it.”

The pair also released a joint statement confirming their involvement:

“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.’”

Avatar live-action

Given the recent release of The Dragon Prince and the participation of several Avatar veterans with that project, I wonder if the original series’ head writer Aaron Ehasz and director Giancarlo Volpe will work on Netflix’s flesh-and-blood Avatar series as well. I have extremely mixed feelings about this announcement. Anybody who knows me is probably sick to death of hearing how great Avatar: The Last Airbender is; the original 61-episode series is beautiful, spiritual, emotional and extremely intelligent. It explored topics like genocide, cultural dissonance and diaspora gracefully and in a way viewers of all ages could understand. At the same time, it developed one of the most likable, varied casts of characters in any TV series.

Personally, I consider Avatar to be the greatest American animated TV series of all time. All things considered, when I saw headlines about the Netflix live-action remake, my first thought was, “What do they hope to accomplish with this?” I have no fear that this show will be as bad as the Shyamalan movie, or even bad at all; I just don’t think it will be as good as the animated series. Not even close. It’s good that, unlike Shyamalan, the showrunners plan on being faithful to Avatar’s Asian-fantasy setting, and I anticipate watching it when it hits the streaming service. I just can’t help feeling a little skeptical, as nothing Avatar-related has touched the epic, thoughtful beauty of the original series.

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