Though the show only lasted a few years, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was a phenomenon that is still remembered to this day. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Netflix has chosen to remake the animated show — this time as a live-action adaptation.
In the world of “Avatar”, there existed four nations: the Fire Nation, the Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribes and the Air Nomads. Each was home to benders that could control one of the four elements — fire, earth, water and air, respectively. The nations lived peacefully until the Fire Nation became obsessed with conquest, wiping out the Air Nomads and declaring war on the rest of the world.
After the war rages for 100 years, the Avatar — a bender capable of controlling all four elements — is uncovered by two people of the Water Tribe. Together, they must defeat the Fire Lord and restore balance to the world.
While the concept of “Avatar” has always been an intriguing one, what truly made the series stand out was the atmosphere it built. At its core, “Avatar” was a show focused on pure fun and joy. It never failed to put a smile on your face while you watched it, and you would struggle to find a show more wholesome. It took an innovative idea and made it so anyone could watch the show and love it.
"The new show is starting off on the right foot, and will hopefully create a worthy successor to Nickelodeon’s cartoon."
It is also worth mentioning that none of this joyful atmosphere took away from the show’s characters, as “Avatar” has some of the most fleshed out and well-developed characters of any show I have seen. Every character feels organic and well thought out, making decisions in keeping with their personalities and changing as a result of the events they undergo — all in a way that makes them feel natural. Should the Netflix show hope to succeed, it would need to both encapsulate the energy built by the original animation and create characters that can live up to their original interpretations.
In addition to recreating these core features of the original show, Netflix’s “Avatar” will have to contend with the bad publicity given to live action reboots of the animation on account of “The Last Airbender”. M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 movie was a terrible attempt to recreate the magic of the original show, ignoring many of the show’s key plot points and failing to understand what made “Avatar” so great to begin with. The live action movie left a bad impression on many fans that still exists to this day, so the Netflix reboot will need to create a truly worthwhile live action adaptation of “Avatar” if it wants to succeed.
Though it has a great deal to overcome, the Netflix adaptation seems to be taking all the right steps to insure the creation of a successful show. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” co-creators, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, have returned for the production of this new show — seemingly planning on creating an adaptation that sticks to many of the core tenants of the original animation. The new show is starting off on the right foot, and will hopefully create a worthy successor to Nickelodeon’s cartoon.
Netflix’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” will begin filming in early 2020, releasing in late 2021 at the earliest.
Joseph Marz is a TV columnist for The Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.