Yes, I know, this is a touchy subject. 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. But let’s forget about that 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, 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.
This is probably the best indication that the series is in good hands, with the original creators, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, back at the helm of the Avatar world. What’s good about bringing back the duo as showrunners and executive producers is that they’ll be able to play a large role in getting things right from the start, reimagining their vision from the animated series into a live-action adaptation, possibly keeping the same atmosphere from the original series.
Thankfully, DiMartino and Konietzko have already made their intentions clear that there will be non of the same white-washing when it comes to the casting of the characters for the project. While no casting announcements have been made to date, this is already something huge. We all know the the film had major issues when it came to casting the characters, which become a sore point for fans, critics, and the general movie community, seemingly a step-back from all the steps taken in the last 10-15 years to bring about changes in Hollywood, etc.
So serious are the creators about the casting that they released a statement about it even before any of the other discussions about the project came to light: “We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We can’t wait to to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast.” Good news, indeed.
It’s Not A Film
Part of the issue with the film adaptation of the Avatar world is that it attempted to squash and 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. Being recreated as a series will allow the team 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. That’s some decent leg room.
It’s Not A Continuation
Questions about the storyline of the series were almost immediate, 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.
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 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. But, this being Netflix, I’m sure we can rest easy.
Some of the Original Team Are Back
Many of the original team, other than the creators themselves, are back onboard. Jeremy Zuckerman, who was the composer on the original Avatar: The Last Airbender and LoK, confirmed, via Twitter, that he’ll 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 may be a great thing for the live-action if the rumours are true.
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 show will only premiere towards the end of 2019, or early 2020, which is still quite some time off. What are your thought – excited or not?