Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender were very concerned when Netflix’s live-action version revealed that the Nickelodeon cartoon’s original creators, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, would be exiting the project in 2020.
Prior to their departure announcement, the pair had been driving development on the live-action version of the beloved cartoon for two years.
On their decision, Konietzko and DiMartino stated, “Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling [but] things did not go as we had hoped.” DiMartino went on to add the adaptation had “the potential to be good” but “will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”
Albert Kim was named the project’s showrunner at approximately the same time that DiMartino and Konietzko made their exit announcements.
“You’d have to be an idiot not to be intimidated a little bit,” Kim recently told Entertainment Weekly when asked about being nervous about taking the job, shortly after Konietzko and DiMartino announced they were leaving.
“My first reaction [to being offered the job] after ‘hell yeah’ was ‘holy s**t. Do I really want to do this? Is there a way to improve upon the original?’ Whenever you tackle something that’s already beloved by millions of fans, you have to ask yourself those questions.“
“We don’t start the show the way the animated series starts. That was a conscious decision to show people this is not the animated series,” Kim explained. “We had to sometimes unravel storylines and remix them in a new way to make sense for a serialized drama. So I’m very curious to see what’ll happen in terms of reaction to that.“
Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender stars Gordon Cormier as Avatar Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara and Ian Ousley as Sokka.
The show also stars Dallas Liu (PEN15) as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Kim’s Convenience, The Mandalorian) as Uncle Iroh, Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0, Lost) as Fire Lord Ozai, Ken Leung (Inhumans, The Blacklist) as Commander Zhao, and Elizabeth Yu (Somewhere in Queens)as Princess Azula.
The official synopsis from Netflix reads, “Water, Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony – then everything changed. A live-action adaptation Aang’s story.
The four nations once lived in harmony, with the Avatar, master of all four elements, keeping peace between them. But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked and wiped out the Air Nomads, the first step taken by the firebenders towards conquering the world. With the current incarnation of the Avatar yet to emerge, the world has lost hope.
But like a light in the darkness, hope springs forth when Aang, a young Air Nomad — and the last of his kind — reawakens to take his rightful place as the next Avatar. Alongside his newfound friends Sokka and Katara, siblings and members of the Southern Water Tribe, Aang embarks on a fantastical, action-packed quest to save the world and fight back against the fearsome onslaught of Fire Lord Ozai. But with a driven Crown Prince Zuko determined to capture them, it won’t be an easy task. They’ll need the help of the many allies and colorful characters they meet along the way.“