After the absolute disaster that was the M. Night Shyamalan film adaptation of famous TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, it is a surprise that Netflix has dared to try and remake this iconic show. Having grown up with Aang and the gang, I hold this show so close to my heart and was devastated after seeing it be torn apart by the live action movie. Somehow, the original series has managed to hold onto its reputation and remains relevant today, with new viewers consuming the show every single year. So, it is safe to say that I am a little sceptical as to how Netflix will improve upon the mistakes that were made before.
However, already it seems that showrunner Albert Kim has made steps in the right direction when it comes to his version of the series. Kim has mentioned the importance of casting ethnically and culturally appropriate actors for the show, which was previously failed by the movie casting directors. The main four cast members have already been announced with Gordon Cormier playing Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, and Dallas Liu as Zuko. Not only are these actors age appropriate for their roles but also have an understanding of the cultures that the show was originally influenced by. Kim has suggested that his remake is a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. He hopes that this adaptation will be able to bring a new generation of fans to the series.
The impressive casting gives me hope that this live action series is in safe hands with Albert Kim. The discussions that are already surrounding Kim’s take on the series highlight that he has a clear understanding of the influences that the show originally made use of and the nostalgic air that it holds for so many young adults. Being able to preserve this in his adaptation will be essential to its success.
However, the creators have already made the decision to swap the ages of siblings, Katara and Sokka. Whilst this doesn’t affect the dynamics in the group much considering how Katara was always the more mature of the two in spite of her age, it does raise questions as to whether Kim will follow through with the original series’ plot of Aang and Katara ending up in a romantic relationship together. The new larger age gap between the two would make any relationship aside from friendship seem somewhat problematic. This has also created complications for any possible live-action adaptations of spin-off show, The Legend of Korra, with Aang and Katara’s family playing a fairly significant role in Korra’s life.
Taking on any adaptation is a huge feat due to the fact that whatever series or book you are adapting, it most likely already has a huge fanbase that could be incredibly disappointed by plot changes or casting choices. And Avatar: The Last Airbender is definitely no exception. We still have a long wait ahead of us before we get to see the completed show but that will not stop us in debating how we think the adaptation will play out.
What are your hopes for the series? Do you believe that childhood favourites like Avatar: The Last Airbender should just be left alone?
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