Avatar: The Last Airbender Fans Raise Red Flags About the Netflix Series

Avatar: The Last Airbender Fans Raise Red Flags About the Netflix Series
By: TV Fanatic Posted On: February 19, 2024 View: 12

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a beloved animated series that has a permanent spot in the hearts of fans around the world.

Unfortunately, like many animated series that get spun into live-action films or TV shows, there is a bit of concern online about whether or not the upcoming Netflix live-action series will be worth its salt.

Fans are worried, and for good reason.

Aang Ready To Fight

The last time Avatar: The Last Airbender was adapted into a live-action film, the results were less than ideal. A lot of core themes of the show, including imperialism, loss, trauma, and corruption, were, for the most part, lost in the 2010 film.

Avatar is not a short series, either, so adapting Book One: Water to a film with less than a two-hour runtime naturally led to poor pacing, a rushed plot, and lackluster character development. Avatar is truly meant to be a series and a long one at that.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Key Art

So, when Netflix announced that it would be heralding a live-action adaptation in the form of a series for the streaming platform, fans were excited, if not a little worried about how Netflix and the show's production company Rideback would handle Aang and the gang's incredible story.

Unease began back in 2020 when the original show's creators announced that they exited the live-action project after creative differences with Netflix. Then, fans went from uneasy to very concerned in January and February 2024.

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In January, actors Ian Ousley and Kiawentiio (who will portray Sokka and Katara in the Netflix adaptation, respectively) noted that Sokka's sexist views at the beginning of the story didn't make it into the final cut of the Netflix series.

"I feel like we also took out the element of how sexist [Sokka] was," said Kiawentiio, "I feel like there were a lot of moments in the original show that were iffy."

Aang Awakens From The Iceberg - Avatar: The Last Airbender

This is concerning, as Sokka's biases were an essential part of his character development and his relationship with his sister Katara.

Furthermore, it seems like Katara's character will be reshaped in the upcoming Netflix adaptation.

"There are certain roles I think that Katara did in the cartoon that we didn't necessarily also do here," said producer Albert Kim, "I mean, I don't want to really get into a lot of that, but some gender issues that didn't quite translate from the cartoon."

Those gender issues likely refer to the fact that Katara was a motherly figure to the group throughout her character arc.

Sokka in the Southern Water Tribe - Avatar: The Last Airbender

It takes a while for her to earn the respect of those around her, which is a major part of her character development.

Things get worse when it comes to how the new team will handle Aang's character as well. In an interview with IGN, Albert Kim and director Jabbar Raisani noted that Aang's long-winded adventure arc would be edited down for brevity and clarity.

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"In the first season of the animated series, he's kind of going from place to place looking for adventures," Kim noted.

"First, we've got to go and ride the elephant koi. It's a little looser, as befits a cartoon. [..] We essentially give him this vision of what's going to happen, and he says, 'I have to get to the Northern Water Tribe to stop this from happening.'"

Katara Speaks To Sokka - Avatar: The Last Airbender

While some might see Aang's adventures throughout the start of the series as frivolous or filler, those episodes were critical in growing Aang as a person.

Few heroes can take out their foes without growing and learning about the world and themselves, and those adventures that Aang embarks on before getting to the Northern Water Tribe make up the meat of the story as well as his character development.

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He starts out as a silly little kid and ends up as the hero that his world needs. That's not exactly something to throw out. To opt out of these adventures in the live-action adaptation could lead to a not-so-fleshed-out character and a rushed plot.

When it comes down to it, it seems like the actors and creators of the adaptation are putting their collective foot in their mouths with these interviews.

Aang Battles Foes in the Water Tribe - Avatar: The Last Airbender

Is there a chance that Avatar: The Last Airbender will be good enough for fans of the original animated series to enjoy?

The series is slated for release on February 22, but some critics had early access to the show, and the reviews are rolling in already.

Collider's Mike Thomas took to X to sing the series' praises: "The first episode of Netflix's 'Avatar The Last Airbender' is fantastic! From the opening scene, you realize that this is far better than the 2010 film."

Most fans would agree that this isn't saying much, considering how hated the 2010 film was.

The Movie Podcast's Anthony also took to X to praise the first episode of the series while also noting that the performances and narrative are not quite there: "Ep 1 Dazzles with its GRAND SCALE & VIBRANT environments.

Aang and Katara Talking - Avatar: The Last Airbender

Fans can rejoice in its faithful visual adaptation and stylistic action sequences. Yet, it slightly stumbles in cast performances, narrative, and philosophical depth."

Naturally, TheLastAirbender subreddit is ablaze with fans discussing the upcoming show. Despite its potential shortcomings, it seems like everyone is excited to give the show a chance.

What do you think about Netflix's upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action adaptation?

Please tell us your thoughts in the comments!

The series drops on Netflix on Thursday, February 22.

Em Casalena is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.

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