And, when the world needed him most, he showed up on Netflix during quarantine.
Following its introduction onto the platform to the joy of all, Netflix has confirmed that an Avatar: The Last Airbender live series is in the works. With the creators of the Nickelodeon classic choosing to remove themselves from production of the show due to creative differences, many fans are concerned about what we're going to see, myself included, so let's identify some things they have to get right.
Don't be Anything Like the Movie
I don't think I need to be politically correct about this, because everyone who watched it shares this opinion. The M. Night Shyamalan movie adaptation of the series was awful. He could have just filmed a flaming trash can for 103 minutes, and I would have enjoyed it far more.
This movie is a lot like Goodfellas. If Goodfellas was the worst movie I've ever seen.
The Wikipedia page for this movie calls it one of the worst films ever made. It actually has its own section on the Wikipedia page for the worst films ever made. I'm not kidding, it's right here. It was an embarrassment. M. Night, dude, I love Split, I love The Sixth Sense, I love the one where there's all those plot twists. You are an amazing director with many amazing films to your name. But this movie won six Razzies for a reason. This movie didn't just drop the ball, it stomped on it then stabbed the ball repeatedly.
I could talk for hours with even more metaphors as to how disappointed I am by this movie, but the point is, avoid whatever this is at all costs.
Don't Whitewash the Characters
The races of the different nations in ATLA are crucial to the plot. The Air Nation represent Tibetan Buddhists, the Water Tribe are indigenous people, Earthbenders are Chinese, and the Fire Nation represents Japanese imperialists. This is vital to the plot and plays out metaphorically in reference to East Asian politics.
Staying true to the identity of the nations and characters is crucial to the success of this show. Don't slap a bunch of stars together and try to convince me Timothée Chalamet in a bald cap can be Aang. Get good actors who represent these cultures to express their culture in the manner they see best.
Give Us Those Fight Scenes
Netflix, I know you guys have money. If you can pay for Infinity War, Friends, and The Office, as you have in the past, you can pay for some good CGI. I'm not saying Netflix lacks in fight scenes with their original content, but the animated version gives them a lot to live up to.
Like when Azula and Zuko duel at the end of season three, or when Aang duels the Fire Lord, or the Battle of Ba Sing Se. Those were awesome moments that a live action budget should improve upon, not diminish.
Keep the Essence
Seriously, don't change a thing. The evolution of Zuko, the growth of Aang, the strife of Katara, the maturity of Sokka, everything. There are so many moments in this show that speak to humanity, growth, love, and acceptance. I don't want to see a serious Aang, or a Fire Lord I can relate to, or a seeing Toph. Many, many people have tripped on the path you're currently walking, and none of us want the same mistakes we've seen from other franchises. Changing dialogue, changing hairstyles, whatever, do not change the essence of who these characters are. I don't want another serious Aang, and I promise that's the last time I'm talking about the movie. Maybe.
In conclusion, keep the spirit of the show. This show is light hearted yet intense. Wholesome yet painful. It had the very unique ability to discuss very adult themes such as genocide, colonialism, imperialism, racism, and more in a kid friendly yet adult appealing manner. It made you smile, it made you cry, it made you believe the impossible, see the good in people as well as the bad. Don't lose the magic, like the movie did. Last time, I pinky promise.
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