In an unfortunate turn of events, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko—the creators of hit Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender—are no longer involved in the much-publicized Netflix live-action adaptation of the show.
In an open letter to fans on his personal website, DiMartino wrote about the circumstances surrounding their departure saying, “When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series.”
It would seem that this did not pan out over the next two years, leading to their exit, and DiMartino’s need to explain the choice to fans:
I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.
DiMartino went on to say that Netflix still has the chance to make a good show, and that fans of ATLA may enjoy it regardless of his or Konietzko’s involvement—but also that “what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”
This is heartbreaking news for fans of the series, who were already let down by the first attempt to bring Avatar to live-action in 2010’s oft-maligned M. Night Shyamalan film, The Last Airbender. DiMartino and Konietzko’s lack of input is frequently cited as reason for the film’s failure, making this blow a pointed and troublesome one.
DiMartino was graceful in his communication of the news, however, telling fans “I share your disappointment and frustration. I also recognize this creative setback is small compared to the problems we’re all facing as a society right now.” With a few helpful missives from the show’s beloved Uncle Iroh, he let the fanbase know what they could expect going forward.
Netflix has not yet replied with a statement, but you can still watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra on its platform.
You can read the rest of DiMartino’s letter here.