We recently learned that Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are no longer working on the live-action Avatar series for Netflix.
But before we get into that, let’s step back for a moment.
For many Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, just the words “Avatar” and “live-action” in the same sentence is enough to see the red mist. Yes, I know, this is a touchy subject.
But let’s forget about that too for a moment.
If you’re a fan of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series, or the extended Korra series, then you may have already heard the news that Netflix is set to start work on a new live-action series for the franchise.
But before you gather your pitchforks, it’s worth noting that there are a number of differences between this new venture and what went so horribly wrong in the theatrical release directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
However, things have gone sour again for the franchise.
The Original Creators Who Were Involved With The Netflix Avatar Series Have Left
This was probably the best indication that the series was in good hands. The original creators, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, were back at the helm of the Avatar world. However, that all changed earlier this year when the duo stepped away from the project after creative differences with Netflix.
“Whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make,” they were quoted as saying about the upcoming show. “When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners,” DiMartino wrote. “In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honouring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”
Netflix, however, has countered their statement by assuring fans that the show is in good hands with the current showrunners.
No More White-Washing Avatar Characters
Thankfully, Netflix has already made their intentions clear that there will be none of the white-washing problem when it comes to the casting of the characters for the project.
While no casting announcements have been made to-date, this is already a huge deal for fans.
We all know that the casting in M. Night Shyamalan’s version became a sore point for fans, critics, and the general movie community.
It’s Not A Film. It’s A Netflix Avatar Series.
Part of the issue with the film adaptation was that it attempted to squash an entire book into a single, 103-minute creation. That’s a whole 20 episodes of character building, inside jokes, and motivations into one film.
This was always going to be a near-impossible task for everyone involved.
A series will allow the team to extend plot points and context more evenly across an entire season, which, if Netflix standards are to go by, could run through 10 episodes of roughly 30 minutes each – which is some decent legroom.
It’s Not A Continuation
Many questioned whether it would continue the journey of the Avatar after he defeated Fire Lord Ozai and brought peace to the world.
But, as the teaser image and some inside scoop would have it, the series will take you on the Avatar journey from his reawaking from the ice.
We’re not sure whether the story will progress in the same manner leading up to the final battle, or whether there’ll be a mix of new plot points scattered throughout.
In any case, we won’t see grown Aang, etc. in the series.
Better Special Effects
Another gripe about the film was its poor special effects and CGI work. There was very little element bending to speak of, which often preceded with crazy, time-consuming dance moves before any elements were hurled in anger.
This may have been partly to blame on the budget and CGI at the time of production, which has since, thankfully, become a lot easier to produce, and a lot more cost-effective.
We also know that Netflix often times throws a big budget behind some of their exclusives, and with such a big announcement from the team, I can only assume that no expense will be spared.
Had this been a standalone announcement that a live-action series would be brought back, there may have been some cause for concern.
Some of the Original Team Are Back
Many of the original team is back on board.
Jeremy Zuckerman, who was the composer on the original Avatar: The Last Airbender and LoK, confirmed via Twitter that he’ll be composing the music for the project.
It’s also rumoured that Sifu Kisu of the Harmonious Fist Chinese Athletic Association may also be back to consult on the fighting techniques, which made the animated series so unique. His different fighting styles for each of the bending techniques really brought depth to the series and could be a great thing for the live-action, if the rumours are true.
Will The Live-Action Series Be Better Or More Of The Same?
It’s really hard to say. The news of the departure of the creators is worrisome. If we aren’t getting their version of Avatar, what version are we getting?
While we all still harbour some feelings of angst towards another live-action take on the Avatar universe, one can only hope things will not only improve but be brought to a level that made the original animated series so awesome.
It’s likely that the Netflix show will only premiere in 2021 or 2022, which is still quite some time off. There’s a lot of time to correct and rethink certain aspects of their creation. We can only pray that the final product is a gift to fans of the original franchise.