What Will Happen to the Live-Action Avatar Remake?

By Diego Caceres, Staff Writer

Many fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender remember the disastrous live-action remake directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie was a sad attempt at an adaptation, cutting large portions of the original series and swapping many of the Asian or indigenous characters for whitewashed cardboard cutouts. Fans of the series responded with disappointment, showing big corporations just how difficult it is to cram an entire season into a feature film. More importantly, the movie showed companies just how lost the project was without the original creators.

On May 15, Avatar was made available for streaming on Netflix, followed by a surge of popularity. It stayed in the #1 spot for months after its release despite ending in 2008. Its sequel show, The Legend of Korra, was given similar treatment and was released on August 14. Both shows are lengthy, giving viewers a fresh series to binge-watch during quarantine.

Before Netflix finally picked up the shows, they announced in 2018 that a live-action Avatar series was in production. Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, the creators of the show, were hired as executive producers and showrunners on the project. A release date has not been set, but “Netflix is committed to doing it right.”

Sadly, on August 12, both creators officially announced they were no longer involved in the live-action Netflix remake after two years of production. DiMartino writes, “In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series….Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.” Konietzko also responded, saying, “Though I got to work with some great individuals, both on Netflix’s side and on our own small development team, the general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.” Yikes!

With this heartbreaking news, fans and staff were not pleased. Greg Baldwin, the voice of Uncle Iroh, posted, “I don’t know if I trust Netflix to create a decent adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender without the creative vision and input of its creators.” His distrust is not unjustified. The fans created a petition on Change.org, signed over 30,000 times, to prevent another live-action disaster. In order to protect the cultural representation of the original series and avoid racial injustices, the petition calls for accurate age portrayals, proper cultural representation, and no romances that can be harmful to the history of Natives. With Netflix in full control, the artistic integrity of the original series could easily be overlooked.

Many are fearful for the new remake, considering the infamous Shyamalan film and the enthusiasm surrounding the original series. This could easily end up becoming another example of big boss corporations tarnishing the work of an original property. Creators are not able to express their visions under the eye of big companies, ruining potentially creative ideas. The result is pandering garbage that is forgotten for years to come.

Well, as far as the new Avatar remake goes, fans can only wait to decide if it does the original series justice.