M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 live-action feature film adaptation of Nickelodeon’s highly-beloved Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series was a sloppy white-washed mess. Hell, it couldn’t even get pronouncing the main character’s name right. Back in late 2018 though, fans of the show got some hope that they could finally see Aang, Katara, Sokka, Zuko and the rest of the gang realized properly in live-action when it was announced that Netflix was developing a live-action TV series adaptation. Unlike Shymalan’s much-maligned offering, this would actually have original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko involved in the process the entire way to make sure everything was done faithfully.
Except that’s no longer happening.
In an open letter posted on his personal blog, DiMartino revealed that he and Konietzko have now exited the production seemingly over unplanned creative changes, saying that “whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.” It’s uncertain just what Netflix had planned that caused the split, with DiMartino only saying that “unforeseen events arise”.
Look, things happen. Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change. And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on…
…I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.
And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.
Well, that sucks. Netflix has responded with a press release saying that “We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series. Although they have chosen to depart the live action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.” Whoever that creative team may be, they will have some huge shoes to fill and steep expectations to meet. Avatar fans have already been burnt massively once before, so I don’t think there’s that much faith left with DiMartino and Konietzko gone.
The pair will still be involved in the Avatar universe though, hopefully developing new properties thanks to a massive recent resurgence in popularity thanks to The Last Airbender debuting on Netflix (unfortunately not the SA version) and follow-up series The Legend of Korra being added to the streaming service this week.
You can read DiMartino’s full open letter over HERE.
Last Updated: August 13, 2020