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Avatar The Last Airbender live-action adaptation by Netflix is slated for a 2024 release. Adaptation of original content is never an easy task. Whether it is from a book, comic or even a Cartoon made for kids which gained a cult following. I remember growing up around a time when Ben 10 was getting Adaptations. Yes, plurals. Not one, but two. And I enjoyed the second one more for some reason. It was around that time I came across another live-action adaptation of Avatar The Last Airbender.

That Animated TV show was a love letter to Anime and Kung-fu films by merging the Chinese Mythos into Japanese Animation style with the help of South Korean Animation Studio. It was made by two Americans, which later became a phenomenon that swept the world and proved that Anime does not have to come from Japan. Many modern Anime-themed shows like Castlevania, Blue Eye Samurai and the upcoming Devil May Cry Anime owe their existence to Avatar The Last Airbender.

Many years later, the company that created the very Anime-themed shows mentioned above would take on the challenge of making the live-action adaptation of Avatar The Last Airbender once again. And even though they show good promises, the medium itself has had a rocky situation in the past few years. As for the title itself, it had a movie adaptation back in 2010 and it left a rather sour taste.

Avatar The Last Airbender | Official Teaser | Netflix

Avatar The Last Airbender Knowhow

Avatar The Last Airbender is an American animated TV Show made by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio. It had 3 seasons and was animated by JM Animation, DR Movie, and Moi Animation throughout its run. The story takes place in a world full of individuals who can bend any of the four elements to their will. They are Water, Earth, Fire and Air. Only the Avatar can master all four elements.

The story follows Katara, a Water Bender growing up at a time of invasion by the Fire Nation after the disappearance of their current incarnation of Avatar. Until, she and her brother, Sokka found the last remaining Air Bender by the name of Aang who is later revealed to be the missing Avatar. With the discovery of the missing Avatar resolved, Katara sets out on a journey with her brother and Aang to help him learn all four elements and restore balance to the world.

Despite being a show centered around kids and young adults, the plot delved into mature topics that would be avoided in today’s time in fear of bad press or worse, cancellation. These topics included war, genocide, imperialism, totalitarianism, indoctrination propaganda and free choice. The show won many praises and accolades and became a cultural icon in pop culture. With characters like Uncle Iroh, Prince Zuko and Toph Beifong being fan-favorites.

Avatar The Last Airbender - Poster - Deshi Geek
Avatar The Last Airbender – Poster – Deshi Geek

Live Action: Tried And Tested

In 2007, Nickelodeon and Paramount announced a live-action film adaptation of Avatar The Last Airbender directed by M. Night Shyamalan and it would be the first of the planned trilogy that would adapt the entire 3 season run of the show. With each season serving as a successive entry. Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko showed interest in the project. Behind-the-scenes drama caused issues with the production as none of the original creators was consulted and their input was ignored.

In 2010, when the film was released, it was a disaster. Fans dissected and butchered the film over the many decisions that were taken such as: removing Avatar from the title to not confuse it with James Camero’s Avatar to whitewashing the main casts and racially stereotyping the antagonists to cutting a chunk of the first season and sacrificing character arcs to rush to the end. And of course, the mispronunciation and buttering of characters’ names and their traits.

I should mention, that they ruined the art of bending elements in the film. The creators of the show not only took Chinese Mythos but also their Kung-fu and integrated it into the Art of Bending. Sifu Kisu of the Harmonious Fist Chinese Athletic Association acted as a consultant and lent his expertise. He utilized his various styles for different bending arts and he even gave each character and nation their own unique identity with that style. And the movie replaces all of it with dance.

The only thing that I liked about the movie was Dev Patel’s casting as Prince Zuko. But it can never exceed Dante Basco’s performance as the Fire Prince himself, and it was not enough to save the film in general, which resulted in the cancellation of the planned trilogy and M. Night Shyamalan taking a huge hit that led him to go obscure from the public eye. Which continued until his comeback with Split.

Netflix’s Avatar Live Action Shocks The World

Can Netflix Succeed?

Netflix was once a media giant that dominated and monopolized the streaming market. And that was because they were the first to the game and presented themselves as alternatives to Movie Rentals. They further cemented their status as Giants by producing Original Shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and many more.

Around that time Netflix began to buy streaming rights to many shows and anime which they later would announce as live-action adaptations. And there were several duds in the form of Full Metal Alchemist, Death Note and Cowboy Bebop, while rarely producing success in the form of Alice in Borderland and One Piece. Avatar The Last Airbender was also in their alley and in 2018, they announced a live-action remake in the form of a TV show which will retell the entire season in an episodic format.

And to avoid causing another The Last Air Bender incident, they brought in the original creators. They also brought in culturally appropriate casts over white-washed actors. Netflix aimed to correct what the film did wrong. However, in 2020, DiMartino and Konietzko exited the production due to “creative differences” and were later given the helm of Avatar Studios, a branch of Nickelodeon which will oversee the production of Avatar’s Spin-off series and other adaptations.

But if the creators exiting the show was not scary, Netflix does not have a great track record with adaptations. Sure, they have succeeded through Money Heist and Stranger Things, but when it comes to remakes it’s either a Hit or Miss. With the latter being more prominent. And then there are other behind-the-scenes drama that occurs with Netflix as they are struggling with maintaining their status as the go-to streaming service.

At moments like these, a platform like Netflix desperately needs a Hit Show that will bring in more subscriptions, as they had done with Stranger Things. Disney+ is bringing in Percy Jackson while Amazon Prime has The Boys spin-off show titled, Gen V. And if a show like Avatar The Last Airbender is done right, then it could be a turning point for Netflix, bringing their status as a Streaming Giant back. But for now, it’s just wishful thinking.

Avatar The Last Airbender - Scene - Deshi Geek
Avatar The Last Airbender – Scene – Deshi Geek

Avatar The Last Airbender Expectations

Now, the only thing that I am guilty of is watching the movie before the show. But had I not done that, I’d have avoided Avatar The Last Airbender entirely. At the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I found myself sitting in front of the TV and wondering what to watch when I found Avatar The Last Airbender. And then I thought, why not give it a try?

I remember how it made me want to write a fanfiction on ATLA taking place after Korra and wanting to expand upon the world. And how it is referenced in my story, Musafir which I am currently working on. And neither would have happened had it not been for Netflix. For that, I am grateful to them. I personally want them to succeed. Because should it fail, we may never get to see another Avatar for a long time.



If my name didn't give it away, I am a Baka and an Otaku. And, I do a pretty good job at being both of them. More often than not at the same time.

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