Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024)

Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is as much lightning in a bottle as an animated series has ever been, a perfect storm of all the right elements (including four literal ones) lining up to create an epic saga that kids and adults alike continue to cherish to this day.

The first attempt to bring the magic of “Avatar” to live-action in 2010’s “The Last Airbender” was a lamentable disaster, and thankfully, Netflix’s live-action reboot “Avatar: The Last Airbender” avoids all the shortcomings of its predecessor.

It largely succeeds in bringing the adventure, humor, action, and fun of its animated namesake to life in an epic live-action do-over that “Avatar” fans are bound to love!



Gordon Cormier plays the show’s titular Avatar and last Airbender Aang, with Kiawentiio playing his Waterbending friend Katara and Ian Ousley portraying her brother Sokka.

Dallas Liu portrays the determined Fire Prince Zuko, with Paul Sun-Hyung Lee playing his caring Uncle Iroh and Daniel Dae Kim playing the show’s ruthless villain, Fire Lord Ozai.

The “Avatar” ensemble also includes Elizabeth Yu as Fire Princess Azula, Ken Leung as Fire Nation naval Commander Zhao, Thalia Tran and Momona Tamada as Azula’s associates Mae and Ty Lee, and Amber Midthunder as Northern Water Tribe Princess Yue.

Additionally, other major “Avatar” franchise characters also appear on the show, including Maria Zhang as Suki of the Kyoshi Warriors, Sebastian Amoruso as Jet, Utkarsh Ambudkar as Omashu’s King Bumi, and Yvonne Chapman, C.S. Lee, and Meegwan Fairbrother as Aang’s past Avatar lives, Kyoshi, Roku, and Kuruk. And yes, “Avatar” fans, the Cabbage Man also appears on the show, played by none other than the original Cabbage Man’s voice actor, James Sie!


Once upon a time, the Four Nations all lived side by side in peace, with the “benders” of each nation learning to master the element of their respective homeland, water, earth, fire, and air.

The cheerful, fun-loving Airbender Aang lives and trains with the monks of the Southern Air Temple, but receives surprising news when his mentor Gyatso informs Aang that he is the Avatar, the continually re-incarnated guardian of peace in the Four Nations, and the only individual in the world capable of mastering all four elements.

The shock of the responsibility (of being) the Avatar carries is a lot for the 12-year old Aang to process, and he briefly departs the Southern Air Temple with his flying sky bison Appa to clear his head.

Unfortunately, Aang and Appa are caught in a terrible storm at sea with Aang accidentally freezing them both. The young Avatar is later awakened from his stasis 100 years later by teenage siblings Katara and Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe, and learns how much has changed in the last century – not only has the Fire Nation launched a conquest of the rest of the world, the Air Nomads were all wiped out in Aang’s absence, making him the world’s last Airbender.

With his new friends Katara and Sokka by his side, Aang realizes he must accept his destiny as the Avatar and master water, earth, and fire in order to stop the Fire Nation’s war on the world.

However, Aang also finds himself facing a new enemy in the Fire Prince Zuko, exiled from the Fire Nation by his father, Fire Lord Ozai, and only permitted to return by capturing the Avatar.


“Avatar” Captures The Majesty of the Four Nations

As any fan of the franchise can tell you, the “Avatar” universe is a vibrant, captivating world of fun, fantasy, and adventure, all attributes that Netflix’s “Avatar” excels at.

The sets, costumes, effects, and character designs of “Avatar” are all almost a one-to-one transition from the animation to live-action in ways that few anime-inspired live-action movies not titled “Alita: Battle Angel” have ever pulled off.

“Avatar” fans will undoubtedly marvel at how flawlessly the show has brought such landmarks as the Southern Air Temple, Kyoshi Island, the kingdom of Omashu, and the Southern and Northern Water Tribe’s homesteads alike to life with such reverence, and the scale of each setting makes the Four Nations feel as expansive and vast as that of any fictional universe.

The aforementioned character designs and costumes are also some of the best in any live-action movie or TV adaptation, and simply make the “Avatar” world feel that much more lived in. And when it comes to the characters of “Avatar”…

The Cast of “Avatar” Bring their Characters to Life

The real power of the “Avatar” franchise has always been in its vast ensemble of engaging, larger-than-life characters, and Netflix’s “Avatar” doesn’t let a single one of them down.

Gordon Cormier nails everything that makes Aang Aang, from his cheerful, fun-loving rambunctious personality to his reluctance to accept the massive responsibility of being the Avatar even as he knows the world depends on him.

Dallas Liu’s performance as Prince Zuko is just as stellar as a young man scarred inside and out and left with only desperation and shame guiding him.

Zuko’s journey has always been as central to the essence of “Avatar” as Aang’s, and Netflix’s “Avatar” is cognizant to place him as much in the spotlight as Aang.

Indeed, one of the best scenes in “Avatar” comes when Aang and Zuko converse together after Zuko’s famed “Blue Spirit” mission, with Aang seeing the good in Zuko and Zuko recognizing the same even as he fights against his belief that he has no choice but to be his father’s pawn in his conquest of the Four Nations.

While the entire cast of “Avatar” all do their respective characters proud, its arguably Kiawentiio who steals the show with her performance as Katara. “Avatar” fans know Katara well for her kindness, warmth, and also her warrior spirit, all traits that Kiawentiio’s Katara brings to the show.

Mae Whitman’s iconic portrayal of Katara on the original “Avatar” is a tough act to follow, and Kiawentiio is every bit as engaging in her performance as Aang’s most trusted ally.

“Avatar” simply isn’t “Avatar” if Katara isn’t a breakout character, and like the rest of the show’s core cast, Katara’s best moments – including her phenomenal Waterbending smackdown with the Northern Water Tribe’s grandmaster Pakku – sets the bar of anticipation high for what “Avatar” season two (or rather Book Two) has in store.

“Avatar” Tweaks some of the Show’s Lore, which Works for the Reboot

As the rules of adaptation storytelling necessitate, Netflix’s “Avatar” updates, alters, and adjusts elements (no pun intended) of its namesake for the show’s version of its universe, and a few of them will be some of the biggest surprises of “Avatar” for fans of the franchise.

The biggest change right off the bat is the introduction of Aang in the show’s opening – as opposed to flashbacks to his time as an Air monk – that set up the biggest shock of the show, namely the Fire Nation’s genocide of the Air Nomads actually being shown on-screen.

Originally an off-screen tragedy on Nickelodeon’s “Avatar”, Netflix’s version throws down the gauntlet on the threat of the Fire Nation’s conquest and how alone Aang has been left right as he’s learned how much the world needs him.

The role of Aang’s Avatar predecessor, Avatar Kyoshi, is also a big curveball in one of the series’ most show-stopping action scenes.

In contrast to the pacifist philosophy Aang grew up with as an Air monk, Kyoshi’s more of the school of “the best defense is a good offense” of battle planning, and takes a much more hands on approach with Aang in defending Kyoshi island.

Avoiding spoilers, suffice it to say that Kyoshi’s retconned role into Book One of Netflix’s “Avatar” adds to the series’ mythos with the deeper connection it gives Aang with many of his past lives early on – along with just being one hell of a kick ass bending action scene!

The Bending Action and Effects of “Avatar” are Fantastic!

And on that note, the moment every “Avatar” fan has waited for – yes, the element-based martial arts bending action of Netflix’s “Avatar” is as fantastic as every fan of the franchise could hope for.

Comparisons with not only Nickelodeon’s “Avatar” but 2010’s “The Last Airbender” are both inevitable and necessary, and thankfully, the new Netflix series delivers bending action of the former’s caliber, speed, and power.

Every element on “Avatar” is based on a different discipline of Chinese martial arts – namely Tai Chi, Hung Gar, Northern Shaolin, and Baguazhang for Water, Earth, Fire, and Air, respectively – and Netflix’s “Avatar” designs all of them on the essence of each element, from strong, planted techniques for Earth, circular movements for Air, fluid motion for Water, and elongated, sweeping movements for Fire.

Compared to the shockingly flat, uninspired bending action scenes of “The Last Airbender”, the fight scenes of Netflix’s “Avatar” reboot should leave fans of the series well pleased.

One subtle but welcome touch to the fight scenes of “Avatar” is the integration of more direct hand-to-hand techniques in the midst of the elements being deployed.

While legitimate martial arts techniques are utilized to put each element to use in combat, “Avatar” also intersperses more direct punching, kicking, and weapons techniques in many of its fight scenes.

The Kyoshi warriors, as non-benders, are some of the biggest stand-outs in the show’s action scenes on the level, and Zuko’s Agni Kai duel with his father Ozai also brings some powerful kung fu-style kicks, traps, and close-quarters strikes to the game in the middle of the flames flying (in another significant but worthy alteration from the original “Avatar”, Zuko actually tries to stand his ground against his father this time, even as he still pays the price for defying the Fire Lord).

While “Avatar” stands as one of the greatest properties predicated on fantastical martial arts, Netflix’s new take on “Avatar” adds just the right amount of gravity to its action with a bit more emphasis on non-bending martial arts to make its fight scenes that much more fun and even scientific in how the elements are put to work in battle.


One of the greatest animated shows ever created, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” can finally say that it has achieved the same glory in live-action that has long eluded it.

Virtually everything about Netflix’s reboot of “Avatar” is as exhilarating and fun as its Nickelodeon predecessor, and while the show makes a handful of significant changes from the original series, they all serve – and in some cases even improve upon – what has come before.

Of course, every “Avatar” fan knows that Book One is just the beginning of Team Avatar’s adventures – something Zuko’s sister Azula alludes to in a thoroughly meta way. Bring on Book Two of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, Netflix!

Favourite Quotes

  • “Long ago, the Four Nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements could stop them. But when the world needed him, most, he vanished.” – Katara’s grandmother, Gran-Gran (directly quoting the opening intro of the original “Avatar” series.)
  • “I don’t know where this will lead, but the one thing I do know is, this is just the beginning.” – Aang (to Katara and Sokka.)
  • “This is the past. There’s only one person who can tell you the future. The person who’ll write ‘The Legend of Aang.” – Katara (when Aang speaks about the legacy of his Avatar predecessors, Kyoshi, Roku, and Kuruk. Also, it’s nice nod to the alternate title “Avatar” is known by, “Avatar: The Legend of Aang”.)


  • “Avatar” creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino were initially involved with Netflix’s reboot of the franchise, but later departed over creative differences in June 2020, with the two subsequently founding Avatar Studios with Nickelodeon, which currently has numerous “Avatar” projects in the works, including an animated movie due for release in 2025.
  • Despite this, Konieztko and DiMartino have writing credits on the first and sixth episodes of Netflix’s “Avatar”, with DiMartino and original Zuko voice actor Dante Basco also attending the premiere of the first two episodes of the show on February 15, 2024.
  • Dallas Liu is a Shotokan Karate exponent and previously competed in the North American Sport Karate Association. Ian Ousley is also a Taekwondo black belt, while Amber Midthunder is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner (and at one point contemplated an MMA career).
  • Dallas Liu previously played the young Jin Kazama in the 2009 “Tekken” movie, while Tamlyn Tomita, who plays Suki’s mother Yukari on the show, also played Jin’s mother Jun Kazama in the film.
  • Each episode of “Avatar” reportedly carried a budget of about $15 million.
  • Daniel Dae Kim previously voiced General Fong in the “Avatar” episode “The Avatar State” in the show’s first season. Additionally, Kim also voiced Hiroshi Sato on the “Avatar” sequel series, “The Legend Of Korra”. Funnily enough, Seychelle Gabriel previously played Princess Yue in “The Last Airbender”, and later went on to voice Hiroshi’s daughter Asami Sato on “The Legend of Korra”.
  • The show’s fight instructor was Alan Tang. Some of his other stunt and fight choreography credits include “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, “Pacific Rim”, “Birth of the Dragon”, “Skyscraper”, the DC streaming series “Titans”, and “Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings”.
  • Alex Kyshkovych served as fight designer for “Avatar”. Some of his other fight and stunt credits include the DC TV series “Arrow” and “Peacemaker”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, and “The Revenant” as Leonardo DiCaprio’s stunt double. Kyschkovych was also Ryan Reynolds’ stunt double on “Deadpool” and Josh Brolin’s on “Deadpool 2”.
Avatar The Last Airbender (2024) Netflix movie poster

Avatar – The Last Airbender (2024) – Netflix movie poster

Film Rating: 9/10

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is now streaming worldwide on Netflix!

Have you seen “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra”? What are your thoughts on how Netflix’s “Avatar” brings the world of the show and its element bending into live-action?

Are you eager to see the adventures of Team Avatar continue in “Avatar: The Last Airbender” season two, or rather Book Two? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

FASCINATED by the META-VERSE FIGHTING ARTS? Then you’ll LOVE the KINGDOM of FU, with these top movie fight scene listicles, exclusive interviews, and much more!

GO BEYOND the VISIBLE: ACTIVATE YOUR INNER AVATAR in KFK gear, and subscribe for more METAverse-FU on YouTube!

Brad Curran

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kung-fu Kingdom