Avatar: The Last Airbender Netflix Reboot


Joe FreerReporter

Netflix recently announced that a live- action adaptation of the children’s cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is in the works.

Creators of the original series, Mike Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, famously known as “Bryke” in the fandom, have confirmed on their Instagram accounts that they will return for the project.

For those who do not know what Avatar is, or have not seen the show since they were kids here’s a quick summary. It takes place a mythical world governed by the four nations of Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Some people from each nation can manipulate or “bend” their respective element. The fire nation inflicted an imperialist war and genocide on the other nations. The only person to stop them is a boy named Aang, the Avatar who has the ability to use all four elements.

This news should excite fans who still have a sour taste in their mouth from the critical and commercial failure of an adaptation from M. Night Shyamalan 2010 live- action film.

With the original creators involved, many of the problems from the first live-action outing, of which they played no part, should be fixed.

One of the most glaring issues from the 2010 adaptation was the inaccurate portrayal of the cast. Much of Avatar’s universe is inspired by different Asian cultures and the film failed to cast authentic actors for lead roles.

After the initial announcement of the reboot, many fans expressed concern about the universe being “white- washed” again on social media.

Dimartino and Konietzko said in their press release “We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, with culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast.”

Since creating “Avatar,” Dimartino and Konietzko have never shied away from breaking norms in their storytelling and their universe has been one of the most progressive American cartoon worlds to date.

Just four years ago, at the conclusion of “The Legend of Korra,” the sequel series to Aang’s story, the two creators confirmed that Korra was romantically involved with Asami making her one of the first open bisexual cartoon character leads in American cartoon history. “Avatar” featured other groups of people that are under represented in American cartoons: Toph was blind, but as capable as any fighter in the show and a handicapped boy named Teo who uses his wheelchair as a vehicle to help him glide in the air.

Another issue with Shyamlan’s movie was that he tried to squeeze 20 episodes into a single 103 minute movie. The result was that his story missed vital character development, iconic scenes and memorable side characters were either left behind or hardly played a role in the narrative. By moving the series to Netflix, Dimartino and Konietzko will have more freedom to expand some of the universe that was not touched upon in the movie or shut down by the Nickelodeon during the original run.

Fans shouldn’t be surprised if they decide to add elements from Korra into Aang’s new series. Much of Korra was about adding to the universe, such as the Raava spirit defeating the evil spirit Vaatu to create the Avatar. The creators said they had wanted to incorporate that part of the universe in the original series but the network shut them down. Fans should not be surprised if the series has a Game of Thrones fifty- minute episode runtime and is geared towards the generation that grew up with the original series, while still keeping its charm.

Nina Bartlomiejczyk,
a junior said “I would personally watch it because I have never seen the original,” and that one of her favorite songs has a reference to the show so she thinks it would be fun to get the meaning behind it.

Chris Gunzenhauser, a junior said he has not watched the show since he was a kid.

“It sounds exciting. I know the live adaptation movie didn’t do too great,” he said,” but I trust them [Dimartino and Konietzko] to a good job.”

He said he had was concerned that live action shows are sometimes unable to capture the same artistic elements that animated ones can. And with a show with elemental bending, mythical creatures and landscapes it might hard to accomplish.

Photo Credit: Anders Krusberg/Peabody Awards

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