Netflix’s Live-Action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Series Has High Hopes

Avatar: The Last Airbender has been one of the biggest animated series ever, but the series has already had its legacy tainted with the live-action adaptation from 2010. With Netflix's history of snuffed anime adaptations, is there any hope for the series' reimagination?

Jun 21, 2023 | Shows

Video by Netflix (via YouTube)

Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender has been in the making for quite a few years, with the streamer making the series official at this year’s TUDUM event.

Netflix has remained curiously hush about its live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, understandably so since fans have been notoriously negative about live-action adaptations of some popular animations.

At the streamer’s TUDUM event, it unveiled the first teaser of the series, although it barely qualifies as one. All the preview manages to confirm is that the series begins streaming sometime in 2024, all on a video of the four primary factions’ insignia — the Fire Nation, the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, and the Air Nomads.

The Do-Over.

Most “The Last Airbender” fans would remember the live-action film from 2010, albeit not for the right reasons. The M. Night Shyamalan-directed film was a disappointment on so many levels, leading to the sacking of what might’ve been several planned sequels.

Netflix’s version of the animated hit has been in the works for quite some time, with an official confirmation in 2018. The series has had its fair share of ups and downs along the way.

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko quit the Netflix adaptation over creative differences detailed in DiMartino’s lengthy blog post.
  • The post stated that the Netflix adaptation “has the potential to be good,” but added that “whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”
  • The series creators have since moved on to planning and creating an entire slate of Avatar films and series for Avatar Studios, with the first of many planned creations expected to debut in 2025.

Since then, Netflix has announced the series’ main cast and showrunners, with the first look of the “Gaang” unveiled in a recent Twitter post.

Infrared views of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Gordon Cormier’s Aang bears the characteristic blue Air Nomad tattoos on his head and body, something that the 2010 film replaced with markings that seemed more like runes.

Image by Netflix

  • The series stars Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, Dallas Liu as Zuko, and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh.
  • While Netflix has made no announcements regarding the series’ runtime or episodes, rumors suggest that it will run for a total of 8 episodes.

With no mentions of Toph (Aang’s Earthbending master) in the current cast, the series’ first season could be adapted only up to the first season of the animated series, much like 2010’s live-action film.

Despite the large fan-following of The Last Airbender, the success of Netflix’s adaptation is not set in stone. The streamer has previously struggled with live-action adaptations, with the sour taste that Cowboy Bebop left behind still lingering.

As Netflix prepared for two major releases, with the One Piece adaptation being the other, I cannot shake the idea of an abrupt cancellation — something the streamer has not shied away from in the past.