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Clenched Anticipation for the Netflix adaptation of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’

avatar the last airbender

This Thursday, the turducken of the Avatar franchise will come out of the oven. Fifteen years since the end of the original series, fourteen years since the last live action film, and ten years since the end of the sequel series, the second live action adaptation of the original series will be released on Netflix.

Ian Ousley as Sokka, Kiawentiio as Katara, and Gordon Cormier as Aang in the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series.

Like Marvel, Harry Potter, and Star Wars before it, there is a frenetic fanbase eagerly awaiting the beloved series and anxious of the forthcoming storm of discourse ready with sparky-sparky-boom energy to see if everything was done right by them. What are some of the questions that are reasonable? What is unreasonable? And can we all preserve an element of our peace once this comes out?

Poster for the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series on Netflix.

The highly anticipated adaptation was announced in September 2018 featuring for the first time ever a majority Asian, South Asian, and Indigenous cast. This puts the casting more in line with the cultural and folkloric inspirations of the Avatar universe. The main cast includes Gordon Cormier playing Aang, Dallas Liu playing Zuko, Kiawentiio playing Katara and Ian Ousley playing Sokka. In addition to the main cast, a star-studded supporting cast will be filling the series roster including Ken Leung, Tamlyn Tomita, Danny Pudi, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Elizabeth Yu and Daniel Dae Kim.

The live-action series will be released all at once with eight episodes one hour in length each. This is a huge difference from the tight twenty-ish minute, twenty-ish episodes in season one of the original animated series. In an interview with IGN, showrunner Albert Kim described the “process of making [the live-action series] feel more like a serialized drama rather than an adventure of the week that the original show was.” It’s safe to say we will not be getting a one-to-one remake, but it remains to be seen if the end result will be two-to-one, ten-to-one, or a hundred-to-one.

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh.

A massive red flag for the series was raised way back in August 12th, 2020 when co-creator Bryan Konietzko announced his and Michael DiMartino’s departure from the Netflix project due to “creative differences.” This isn’t the first time we have had bad news regarding an Avatar live-action remake, and it isn’t the first time to question if we should even have one. The open letter painted a disappointing but also lightly optimistic outlook on the production that still included a talented portion of the team the duo had originally hired to retell the story of Aang and his friends.

I have a lot of questions about the upcoming series. Who is this for? How will the world respond to seeing actors that actually look like the characters? Can older fans (like me) accept the show for whatever it will be and learn to get along? Can a new generation of viewers flock to the show and discover something really special? But just like the creators, I still have hope and have things to look forward to.

I’m excited to revisit this world and see what new ideas float to the surface. I’m excited to see another take on the Gaang. I’m maybe too excited to see Utkarsh Ambudkar throttle everyone with boulders as Bumi. This is perhaps a perfect opportunity to introduce my younger sister, who has grown up watching shows on Netflix, to the world of Avatar. And mostly, I’m excited about what’s to come for Avatar.

This iteration of The Last Airbender saga adds to the abundance of ways to explore the four nations in alternatively rich contexts. There’s a tabletop role-playing-game, there’s a cookbook, and in late 2025, the first animated feature helmed by the original creators through Avatar Studios will be released.

This week we will have a lot of reactions, but in the following weeks, months, and years, remember that bringing balance to the world will not be in the comments section.

Gordon Cormier as Aang – Robert Falconer/Netflix.

The live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series will be released on Netflix on Thursday, February 22nd.

Photos taken from https://www.netflix.com/tudum/articles/avatar-the-last-airbender-release-date-photos-news.


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