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Excitement for live-action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series

Netflix has been tasked with living up to the expectations of fans from the original animated series.
Image by Ava Weinreis
The last version of “The Last Airbender” received poor ratings.

Netflix released the trailer for the live-action series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” on Nov 9. The trailer shows the audience the fan-favorite characters, including animal sidekicks Appa and Momo. The show is set to be released Feb. 22, 2024.

Netflix announced the live-action adaptation of the series in September 2018. This is 10 years after the release of the poorly received live-action movie, “The Last Airbender.” The film has a 5% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4/10 score on IMDB.

While being a kids show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has powerful messages and emotional scenes. While these aspects come across well in an animated series, there is something about a live-action performance of emotion that can make a scene a bit more impactful.

However, I worry about creative liberties that may be taken by Netflix to not only appeal to those who enjoyed the animated series but also to fans who are new to the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” world.

The original TV show conveys romantic attraction among characters, such as Katara and Aang, but there is a stronger emphasis on familial and platonic relationships in the show. I worry the live-action creators may minimize this to focus more on romantic relationships. If this happens, there is a chance the new show may be missing the emotional elements and important lessons the original show offered.

The trailer for the show has a more serious tone than the animated series, but I look forward to how comedy will be used in this iteration, as that is part of what makes the animated series so well done.

The original animated series contained a variety of comedy styles that appealed to many different age groups. During my many rewatches throughout the years, I found myself laughing at jokes I didn’t understand when I was younger.

As a child, I found the bit where the character Sokka eats a random cactus in the middle of the desert funny because he was acting silly. Now that I am older, it is even funnier knowing Sokka was tripping and the cactus was a hallucinogenic.

The casting and trailer alone show Netflix seems to have made sure the cultures that were referenced in the animated series are accurately represented in the live-action series. I think this is because recently, one of the main complaints about the live-action movie is that the movie whitewashed the characters.

In the animated series, each elemental tribe is based on actual cultures. Most notably the Water Tribe is based on Inuits, one group of people indigenous to the Arctic regions. Another notable example is the Fire Nation which is based on the culture of imperial Japan.

The actors in the live-action movie, released in 2010, did not reflect the diversity of cultures shown in the animated series. This was a missed opportunity on the part of those creators at that time.

While the original creators of the animated series left this live-action project sometime in 2020, the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” live-action TV show is already doing better than “The Last Airbender” movie in many regards. However, the show has big shoes to fill as it tries to live up to the beloved animated series.

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  • Kehk in a MiG
    Dec 17, 2023 at 6:58 am

    It’s a bit…brutish to refer to it by the full name every single paragraph. After the first time, you just need to call it “Avatar” or “ATLA”.

  • Tesha
    Dec 6, 2023 at 12:59 am

    I will be seriously disappointed if the live action doesn’t have cabbage man