Back in between 2005 and 2008, a truly exceptional children’s television series aired on Nickelodeon titled Avatar: The Last Airbender. Four years later, a sequel series was produced titled The Legend of Korra. Between those two series, M. Night Shyamalan made a live-action adaptation of The Last Airbender, which was universally panned by fans and critics alike.
Today, we learn that we’re getting another shot at a live-action Last Airbender—and a good one at that.
[There is further word from the creators below.]
There has been no press release, but Netflix’s social media arm went to work today and announced that a “reimagined” live action series was being worked on, with a piece of concept art from John Staub to prove it:
(That’s Appa, Avatar Aang’s flying sky bison, for those who haven’t watched the show.)
There was a response from another Netflix Twitter account, NXOnNetflix, that confirmed the original showrunners—Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko—were on the project. Nickelodeon’s account seemed to confirm in excitement, so this is definitely real, and definitely happening.
Given what a wreck the film was, it seems only fair to go back and give fans a second chance to see Avatar rendered in live-action. Not only was script a tattered mess of the original story, but the film version of Last Airbender saw the majority of the cast whitewashed. (Given the inspiration behind the cultures in ATLA’s world, most of the cast should be south-east Asian.) It’s uncertain what the “reimagined” part of this Tweet refers to; it could mean changes to the story, a larger scope, or merely that the scripts must obviously be reworked to this end.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, anime often goes from animation to live-action adaptations, so this is hardly a new practice. Knowing that the original team has a hand in its creation is heartening to hear, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on any future developments!
UPDATE: DiMartino and Konietzko have issued a statement about their intentions going forward with the project.
“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.”
Those two short paragraphs are sure to provide a lot of relief for fans. The cast won’t be whitewashed! A live-action series is a chance to expand the worldbuilding and background on the characters! Netflix is super into all of this, so they won’t have to fight for it! Let’s do the thing!
Go Team Avatar!