Netflix announced in 2018 that they would be producing a live-action take on the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. That series is still expected to drop, but it will no longer include Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the co-creators of the animated series, as showrunners. It might be easy to look at this bit of news and think this will be an M. Night Shyamalan-thing all over again, and it very well could end up being the Netflix equivalent of five guys doing a choreographed dance number to raise some stones.
But I also think there's reason to not yet sound the alarms. There are plenty of instances in which the adaptation improves upon the original (Stephen King, for example, prefers the movie-version ending of Cujo). Just because Shyamalan flubbed the retelling the first time, that doesn't mean the re-retelling is without hope. I mean, where would we be if Hollywood just gave up on Batman as an intellectual property altogether after Batman and Robin? I'll tell you one thing for damn sure, we wouldn't have this:
In a recent blog post, DiMartino commented on his departure saying:
"Netflix's live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make."
Again, this is me choosing to see the water skin half-full here. Obviously, DiMartino is being polite when he concedes that the Netflix adaptation still has the potential to be good without him. But considering the producer/creator blowouts we've seen from Hollywood before, this might as well be the Hollywood equivalent of the break-up letter you wrote to your girlfriend before going off to college.
1. Jeremy Zuckerman, the original composer, is returning for the live-action version.
2. The series is apparently "looking for a mostly Asian cast and a 12-14 Asian kid to play Aang." (Shyamalan infamously used a mostly white cast.)
3. Jan Chol Lee of Disney's Big Hero 6 is working as a concept designer on the series.
4. I'm willing to give Netflix the benefit of the doubt after the bang-up job they did with The Umbrella Academy (another adaptation).
Okay, this still isn't too much to hang your hat on ...
But it's about all we have right now. I won't say that I expect this to be good. All I'm saying is that I'm not going in expecting this to be not good. Regardless, I think we can all agree, as long as M. Night stays the hell away from this, then there's hope.
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Top Image: Nickelodeon