Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived in harmony; then everything changed after the Fire Nation attacked. While those who have grown up with Avatar: The Last Airbender have revitalized their affection for the early-2000s cartoon series that took Nickelodeon by storm, turning the franchise into a cultural phenomenon. Netflix’s announcement of a live-action series of the same name sparked skepticism among lifelong fans, and after the main cast was established, Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s Dante Basco offered his insight to the next Avatar Zuko actor.
“I just had a conversation with the new kid playing Zuko on the show for Netflix– Dallas Liu– and we were talking about the character,” Basco said in an interview with Screen Rant, “you know, I was kinda passing the torch, like, bro, it’s your turn to play him, how you’re gonna play him.” Basco’s voice talent first brought the character to life, and there was curiosity about the metaphorical passing of the torch onto the new Avatar Zuko actor. Though there has been speculation on whether Netflix was to take the initiative to move forward with their live-action series that’s been so heavily rumored, the streaming giant formally confirmed that the series would be put into motion. The platform previously acquired the animated series and released all three seasons – referred to as Books – of Avatar: The Last Airbender in 2020.
“…I’ll tell you things about how I did it, and it could help you on your journey, but ultimately, it’s your turn to play him how you’re gonna play him, wherever that character intersects with you,” the former Avatar star said to Liu during their conversation about becoming Prince Zuko. While Liu may be the latest Avatar Zuko actor, he’ll be the second to portray the character in a live-action production. Son of the ruthless Fire Lord Ozai, Zuko’s character arc through the extent of Avatar: The Last Airbender has been deemed one of the best examples of character development featured on television. To fans’ dismay, and for those who anticipated watching the transformative arc unfold before them again, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have stepped away from working with Netflix.
There remains to be an unspoken expectation that Liu should bring what Basco brought to the character through the series’ original arc. Dev Patel was featured as the Avatar Zuko actor in the 2010 featured film, and the past live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender has faltered the excitement around Netflix wanting to so eagerly reimagine the deeply beloved universe. Fortunately, Liu has the potential to honor Zuko’s metamorphic becoming from an angst-riddled teen to a Fire Lord worthy of the throne. In addition to Avatar: The Last Airbender, Liu has taken roles in the critically-acclaimed Hulu comedy Pen15 and was briefly featured in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Liu’s casting assignment as the Avatar Zuko actor is fairly fresh yet, and Netflix has yet to assign an official release date to the series. The streaming service has been fairly conservative when sharing details as to which direction the series may steer itself in. The anticipation around the return of Avatar: The Last Airbender continues to mount as additional details make their way onto the internet.
All seasons (or Books) of Avatar: The Last Airbender are available to watch through Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Paramount+.