In the annals of animated television series’, Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is an all-time Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, its 2010 big screen adaptation, M. Night Shymalan’s “The Last Airbender”…was not. However, The Avatar is now set to get another shot at glory with Netflix’s newly announced live-action adaptation, with the acclaimed series’ own creators, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino returning as showrunners!
In an official statement, Konietzko and DiMartino said of the forthcoming series: “We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”
In a further statement, Melissa Cobb, Vice President of Kids and Family Content at Netflix, added. “We are committed to honoring Bryan and Mike’s vision for this retelling and are thrilled to support them on creating a live-action event series, bringing Aang’s epic world of elemental magic to life for global audiences on Netflix.”
Chris Viscardi, Senior Vice President of Animation Production and Development, at Nickelodeon, also chimed in: “Avatar: The Last Airbender’ continues to grow and resonate with fans around the world due to its combination of relatable characters with all their foibles and a fully realized world of epic, high-stakes stories and adventures. This partnership with Netflix is part of our broader efforts at Nick and Viacom to tap into our enormous library of culturally resonant properties to produce new interpretations, and we can’t wait for people to see Netflix’s live-action version of ‘Avatar.’”
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” first premiered on Nickeloden in 2005, where it ran for three seasons, or “Books”. Heavily influenced by Japanese anime and Asian culture, the series is set in a world divided into the Four Nations of the Water Tribe, Fire Nation, Earth Kingdom, and Air Nomads, wherein some are able to telekinetically “bend” the element of their respective nation. The bending of each element corresponds to an actual discipline of martial arts –specifically, Tai Chi for Water, Hung Gar for Earth, Baguazhang for Air, and Northern Shaolin for Fire.
The “Avatar” embodies the continuously reincarnated Spirit of Light, and the only individual in the world capable of bending every element. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” follows the adventures of Aang, the last of the Air Nomads and the new embodiment of the Avatar, as he seeks to master the martial art of bending every element in order to stop the Fire Lord’s conquest of the Four Nations. The popularity of the show would lead to its sequel series, “The Legend Of Korra”, which aired four “books” from 2012 to 2014, and which focused on Korra, Aang’s more rambunctious successor to the mantle of the Avatar.
2010’s “The Last Airbender” would prove to be the most ill-received chapter in the franchise, by far, with virtually every aspect of the film subject to critical and fan derision, from attempting to cram the story of the 20-episode first season into 103 minutes, to how much the action sequences paled in comparison with its animated counterpart. Konietzko and DiMartino’s statement also alludes to the film’s infamous casting controversy, with largely white actors assuming the roles of characters specifically intended as Asian, inhabiting a world predicated on Asian cultures, so it’s fair to say that history will not be repeating itself here.
In recent days, Netflix has also grown into something of a hotbed for martial arts fans, with such series as “Sense8”, “Altered Carbon”, and the streaming service’s various Marvel titles, while the currently in-production “Wu Assassins” has enlisted the services of such martial arts luminaries as Iko Uwais, Mark Dacascos, Byron Mann, JuJu Chan, Stephen Fung and Lewis Tan, making “Avatar” just the latest addition in the ever-expanding library of martial arts-laden original programming to be found on Netflix!
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is currently in pre-production and is to set to get rolling next year. Stay tuned for more info on the series as it descends! In the meantime, what did you think of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra”; excited to see “Avatar” get another shot at live-action? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Check out our other martial arts movie news from the Nation of FU, along with our exclusive interview with the series respected martial arts coordinator, Sifu Kisu!)