Netflix just released the first images of their live-action of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the photos look great. However, there’s no denying the cloud hanging over the Netflix series since Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko left the series before production began. Reportedly, one of the biggest issues that caused such a shocking rift between the two sides was the budget for the live-action adaptation.
Given the incredible world and bending in the animated series, it’s not surprising that the creators needed a huge budget to pull off the live-action series. But that’s not the only problem that the upcoming series could be facing. The Last Airbender is an extremely popular series. In fact, when both Avatar and The Legend of Korra made their debuts on Netflix, it introduced new fans to the animated classic. Since most people know about the animated series, is a live-action adaptation even necessary in the first place?
The Problem With The Copy and Paste Model
Remaking the series with every plot point from the animation feels pointless. Audiences know the journey of Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Toph. Beat by beat, the live-action story loses its luster because there are no stakes behind it. Of course, Aang trying to stop the dangerous Firelord is a strong overarching plot. But we know the important details that led to Firelord Ozai’s demise.
Aang successfully gets all of his bending powers. Zuko turns into an anti-hero and joins the gang to take down his father. Azula gathers Suki and Ty Lee to pit against Aang, Sokka, Zuko, Toph, and Katara. I can easily list every important detail about the animated series because it’s still a relatively modern product.
Is it cool that all of the great action sequences will be in live-action? Definitely! However, there’s nothing new or exciting to grab onto beyond wanting to see the incredible world and bending in the live-action format. Netflix made the same mistake with the Cowboy Bebop series. That looked tremendous in live-action form, but it was hard to get invested in it because everyone knows all the important details of the anime.
Why It Would’ve Beneficial If The Live-Action Deviated From The Original Source Material
As great as the original Avatar: The Last Airbender is, there’s just no justified reason there needs to be a live-action series. The animated series holds up incredibly well. Plus, there are certain gestures or movements that the live-action series simply can’t replicate from the anime.
Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are crafting a movie of the adult version over at Paramount as we speak. Netflix would’ve been better off investing in a fresh story involving these legacy characters. DiMartino and Konietzko have gained the respect and trust of fans so investing in the adventures of adult Aang wouldn’t have been difficult for the core audience.
Plus, if any newcomers wanted to jump into the series then they could’ve simply watched the animated series on the streaming service. Deviating from the source would’ve satisfied the itch of wanting to see a new story with the Avatar crew while embellishing the rich lore the series has. The Legend of Korra briefly showcased the adult livelihood of Aang and his loyal crew. It would’ve been great to see how they came up with Republic City and how they dealt with new forms of benders like Yakone – a bloodbender.
It Would Be Incredibly Hard To Mimic The Vibrant And Colorful World Of The Animated Series
By all accounts, a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender could turn out to be great. Despite the influx of content that Netflix has, they did build their brand based on prestigious shows like Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things. I briefly touched on this, but there’s no way for the live-action series to recapture the magic that the animated show has.
For one, it would be shocking if Netflix did all 61 episodes of the animated series. As great as The Last Airbender is, there are plenty of filler episodes throughout its run. Still, episodes like The Beach, Jet, or Appa’s Last Days add dimension to the characters and world within The Last Airbender.
Being unable to mimic the animation isn’t much of a big deal. However, highlighting the true vibrance of the colorful world is. That’s what pretty much the purpose of those filler episodes is. It’s best to reserve judgment on the live-action series until it’s officially released. However, Netflix would’ve been better off giving audiences a new adventure with Aang and his crew.
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