Ask any teenager or young adult what the greatest animated series of the past two decades has been and chances are high that a vast majority of them will answer with Avatar: The Last Airbender. The critically acclaimed Nickelodeon show still remains beloved a decade after its series finale aired, with its nuanced and charming cast of characters, its epic story and fleshed out world well engrained into pop culture. To many, Avatar is a show that’s right up there with the likes of Batman: The Animated Series.
While M. Night Shyamalan’s notoriously bad live action adaptation film was panned by critics and fans alike back in 2010, the Avatar franchise survived and continued with a sequel animated series The Legend of Korra, which concluded in December 2014. And now Aang, the original “Last Airbender,” is back.
Netflix has officially announced a new live action series adaptation of the show and they’re not alone on the project- the new series will be helmed by original series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino!
The duo, affectionately referred among fans as “Bryke,” stated, “We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”
Naturally Netflix, Konietzko and DiMartino will also be collaborating with Nickelodeon on the new iteration of the show. Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s vice-president of Kids & Family Content stated, “We are committed to honoring Bryan and Mike’s vision for this retelling and are thrilled to support them on creating a live-action event series, bringing Aang’s epic world of elemental magic to life for global audiences on Netflix.”
Along with the official statements, Netflix also released an official concept image from artist John Staub (featured at the top of the article), depicting titular protagonist Aang and his flying bison Appa standing alone in the icy plains of the South Pole.
Personally I’m excited to see how this turns out! The original series has its reputation for a good reason and the potential of bringing it to life in a live action format is definitely there, especially with Konietzko and DiMartino at the helm once more. The only concern I have is budget- the world of Avatar is vast and unique with prominent influences of different Asian cultures and the various forms of “bending” (air, water, earth and fire) will require both stellar choreography and convincing special effects in order to be truly convincing. If Bryke and Co. can deliver on that, I’m confident that the series will succeed.
Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!