Netflix Confirms a Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender Series


Image: Netflix

Alexa Empleo, Staff Writer

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is still definitely one of the most classic Nickelodeon shows to date. Packed with light-hearted comedy, action and a trickle of drama, this series is one that could be enjoyed by the whole family. In addition to that, who could forget the iconic character development of Prince Zuko? Or its famous opening: “Long ago the four nations lived in harmony, but everything changed when the fire nation attacked…”

The series aired on Nickelodeon on Feb. 21, 2005, and ended its run on July 19, 2008. It was then followed by a live-action movie in 2010 that was deemed to be an insulting adaptation despite the involvement of well-known director, M. Night Shyamalan. The film compressed three seasons into 103 minutes, whitewashed the series’ diverse, Asian characters and ultimately did not deliver, earning the insults and disappointment of Airbender fans all over the world.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a series I grew up with, like most people in my generation. As a part of the Asian community, I enjoyed the variety of cultures that were incorporated into the series. It was also creatively constructed, generally appropriate, and uniquely different from the rest of the Nickelodeon shows during that era. After the humiliating downfall of the film adaptation, I have come to accept that the series can never make it to the bigger screen. But that wasn’t much of a nuisance as many others were content on it being immortalized into the old yet classic Nickelodeon period along with “Danny Phantom” and “iCarly.”

However, these thoughts came to a standstill when on Sept. 18, Netflix tweeted the announcement of a reimagined, live-action series of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Much to everyone’s delight, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the original creators of the animated series, are set to return and oversee this new one. Along with the announcement, Netflix also included concept art of Avatar Aang, the main protagonist, and his flying bison Appa located in the in the South Pole, which is the first setting seen in the show.

“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,” declared DiMartino and Konietzko in a written statement following the announcement. “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.”

Production is set to occur in 2019, but other details have yet to be released. Will this reimagined Netflix version be a success and finally serve justice to the original show? Or will it prove to be yet another, try-hard failure? Whatever the case, this validates the growing success of Netflix whilst Avatar fans simply have to anxiously wait to see the outcome.