Netflix has announced it will be producing a live-action television series of the animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender. This has been attempted before when M. Night Shyamalan produced a live-action, white-washed movie in 2010 that not only was a terrible adaptation but a terrible move in general. With the original series winning multiple awards and going on to release video games and comic books, it is hard to imagine anything can already be added.
But a glimmer of interest and hope comes in the form of Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Both were the original creators of Avatar and both have been brought onboard for this live-action series in the roles of executive producers and showrunners. Netflix is also partnering with Nickelodeon for this project, which is set to begin production in 2019.
It’s hard to imagine what could be different. A live-action exact retelling, line-by-line, would be interesting but hardly necessary. And any changes likely will not go over well with fans. Perhaps the purpose is to bring this incredible story to a wider audience. Perhaps this avenue can allow them to produce longer episodes and explore the world more. The story itself is a gripping tale of self-discovery, confidence, and growing up as the Avatar, Aang, travels with three companions to stop the Fire Nation from crushing the other elemental nations to create their own empire.
DiMartino and Koneitzko had this to say about the announcement:
“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.”
Netflix’s Melissa Cobb, VP of Kids and Family Content also 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.”