When Netflix announced their live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, fans were thrilled to learn that original creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino were involved. However, the Avatar creators exited the project in 2020 due to creative differences. “Many of you have been asking me for updates about the ‘Avatar’ live-action Netflix series,” DiMartino wrote in a blog post. “I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved with the project. In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.” The pair had signed on as executive producers and showrunners, but apparently “things did not go as we had hoped.“
While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Avatar: The Last Airbender showrunner Albert Kim admitted that it was “absolutely” daunting to continue the series without creators Konietzko and DiMartino. “You’d have to be an idiot not to be intimidated a little bit,” Kim said. “My first reaction after ‘Hell yeah!’ [when he got the job] was ‘Holy s—! Do I really want to do this? Is there a way to improve upon the original?’ Whenever you tackle something that’s already beloved by millions of fans, you have to ask yourself those questions.“
The live-action series will be Avatar: The Last Airbender, but Kim stresses that it will be “our version of Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Some elements will unfold exactly as they did in the animated series, while others may be changed. “We don’t start the show the way the animated series starts,” Kim said. “That was a conscious decision to show people this is not the animated series. We had to sometimes unravel storylines and remix them in a new way to make sense for a serialized drama. So I’m very curious to see what’ll happen in terms of reaction to that.“
“Water. Earth. Fire. Air. The four nations once lived in harmony, with the Avatar, master of all four elements, keeping peace between them. But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked and wiped out the Air Nomads, the first step taken by the firebenders towards conquering the world,” reads the official description. “With the current incarnation of the Avatar yet to emerge, the world has lost hope. But like a light in the darkness, hope springs forth when Aang, a young Air Nomad — and the last of his kind — reawakens to take his rightful place as the next Avatar. Alongside his newfound friends Sokka and Katara, siblings and members of the Southern Water Tribe, Aang embarks on a fantastical, action-packed quest to save the world and fight back against the fearsome onslaught of Fire Lord Ozai. But with a driven Crown Prince Zuko determined to capture them, it won’t be an easy task. They’ll need the help of the many allies and colorful characters they meet along the way.“
Avatar: The Last Airbender stars Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as General Iroh, Ken Leung as Commander Zhao, and Elizabeth Yu as Princess Azula. The live-action series will debut on Netflix on February 22, 2024.