Home Entertainment Netflix developing live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series with original creators

Netflix developing live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series with original creators

3 min read

I’m a firm believer that when beloved properties get adapted for the screen, they don’t have to be a 1:1 verbatim copies. I’m also a firm believer that there should be limits though, a line that adaptations shouldn’t cross. In 2010, M. Night Shyalaman crossed that line with drunken abandon before taking a steaming dump on it.

I am of course referring to The Last Airbender, the deservedly much-maligned live-action feature film adaptation of fan-favourite award-winning Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. While the show is considered to be and one of the best cartoons of all time (well, considered by me), Shyalaman’s effort is widely regarded as one of the worst modern live-action adaptations. Here’s the thing about hitting rock bottom though: There’s nowhere else to go but up. Netflix is totally down with that sentiment as it was announced last night that the streaming series is now in early development on a live-action TV series adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The news was first revealed in a tweet from Netflix’s preview account See What’s Next and included a piece of concept art for the series, which seems to be a recreation of “a very old concept from Avatar” that co-creator Bryan Konietzko originally shared on his blog in July. We haven’t seen anything further on the project, but it has been confirmed that Konietzko and co-creator Michael DiMartino will be back as showrunners/exec producers, so you don’t have to worry about some new person not even knowing how to pronounce the lead character’s name (yes, I’m looking at you, Shyamalan!).

The original show aired for three seasons from 2005 to 2008 and was set in a fantasy world in which different tribes of people could manipulate different elements. It followed Aang (which is not pronounced “Uhng”), the last of the wiped out race of Airbenders. Aang is also the Avatar though, the fated hero who can control all four elements, once thought lost to the world. Aang and his friends must save the world from destruction by stopping the advances of the cruel Fire Lord Ozai and his army.

The show was heavily based on Asian cultures and featured several incredibly accurate recreations of real-world Asian martial arts. Which is why it caused such a big fan uproar when Shyamalan’s movie featured white actors in a number of lead roles, including that of Aang himself. DiMartino and Konietzko are clearly aware of the controversy as they indicated in their joint public statement following the announcement of the Netflix live-action series.

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.

This will be the second time DiMartino and Konietzko will be returning to this world as they also gave us the brilliant animated sequel series The Legend of Korra, while Avatar has seen spinoffs and adaptations in just about every media format out there from comics to novels to video games. As for the new live-action adaptation, there’s no timeline as of yet, but as soon as we hear something we will let you know.

Last Updated: September 19, 2018


  1. Oh cool. Let’s hope they do it well.

    Yeah, doing a direct copy of the anime can be bit of a let down. I recently watch the live action Bleach movie and even though I quite enjoyed it, it was so similar to the anime that at time it felt like they just recreated the scenes. Can’t say that with 100% certainty, since it’s been YEARS since I watched the opening story arc of the anime.


    • Pariah

      September 19, 2018 at 10:21

      It wasn’t really similar to the anime though. They took about 3 episodes of the first arc, left out half of the details of those, lost any charm or appeal of the actual characters, and dragged it on for almost 2 hours before they played fast and loose with the way it ends.


      • Original Heretic

        September 19, 2018 at 10:24

        I still liked it. Felt a lot like the anime for me.
        I really hope they do a sequel, so we can see Soul Society. Orihime and Chad also need to get their powers now!


        • Pariah

          September 19, 2018 at 10:28

          See that’s the thing. The movie relies entirely on your nostalgia of the series. If you have never watched the series, the movie has very little context, they don’t develop any of the characters besides Ichigo, even Rukia is sort of glossed over. Chad and Orihime are basically non-existant in the movie, yet in the anime they’re prolific, right from the first episodes.

          Take away nostalgia, take away having watched the anime (or read the manga), and you have an empty movie with little substance. That’s the problem I have, it can’t stand on it’s own. That for me, is key. So if I had to review, despite loving the source material, I’d have to give it around a 1.5 or 2. Which annoys the shit out of me, but that’s what it is.


          • Original Heretic

            September 19, 2018 at 10:31

            Yeah, that’s a good point. Knowing the story and being familiar with the events helped in the watching of it.
            But to do a movie of the anime series, there’s always going to be stuff that’s glossed over. Not enough time to cram it all in.

          • Pariah

            September 19, 2018 at 10:34

            Yeah 100%, but in trying to cram about 50 episodes into 2 hours, they lost all of what made Bleach, Bleach. They only developed a little of Ichigo’s back story, and nothing else. And the way it ended also removed the reason Ichigo went to Soul Society in the first place – Rukia’s execution. So I have no idea how they’d tackle a sequel when they’ve already nipped that in the bud.

          • Guz

            September 19, 2018 at 11:13

            So glad I read the manga instead of the animie, sure it took waaaay longer but it was worth it for my weekly fix

  2. Pariah

    September 19, 2018 at 10:06

    I find Netflix are either bang on the money, or completely off the mark with their live-action adaptations. While I’m keen to see where this goes, I’m always suspect. The Bleach movie was horrid, yet Death Note was really good.

    Also, side note, The Dragon Prince is amazing. I can’t wait for book 2!


    • Original Heretic

      September 19, 2018 at 10:19

      HA! For me, it was other way around. Hated Death Note, loved Bleach.

      Dragon Prince, yup, that was awesome. Went through the whole series on Sunday with my little boy.


    • Guz

      September 19, 2018 at 11:08

      Agree with you on the dragon prince , was very good, i especially loved the humor it was just spot on for me . I was worried a bit about the animation but after a while you get used to it and then the colors really popped for me.

      Also my pretty ‘hangry’ about now XD


  3. Kromas

    September 19, 2018 at 10:21

    While I disapprove of anime adaptation on principle (cause they never work out) this is luckily just an animation so it may come out fine.


  4. Yondaime

    September 19, 2018 at 11:41

    Probably going to suck


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