Fans of the original “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” an Emmy-winning cartoon that first aired on Nickelodeon in 2005, have reacted to the news of a new live-action project with no small amount of skepticism.
To be fair, the first attempt at adapting the animated series into a live-action retelling of the story ended in a staggering eight nominations for the 31st Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D.
There were many egregious aspects about M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 adaptation, “The Last Airbender,” but chief among them were the inaccurate casting, the mishandled plot, and the very poorly allocated $150 million budget.
The original cartoon, though set in a fantasy world with four distinct nations, borrowed heavily from Asian and Inuit cultures when crafting its characters and settings. Many were disappointed to see the series’ lead roles miscast with white actors like Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone.
Some concerns, however, might be put to rest concerning the new live-action adaptation, since the story seems to have been put back into rightful hands.
The original creators of the 2005 cartoon, Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko, are on board to helm the upcoming series.
Announcing the project back in September, they said, “We can’t wait to realize [main character] Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast.”
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” they said, “to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling.”
Then again, many are still puzzled about why DiMartino and Konietzko are going ahead with a live-action retelling instead of coming out with an animated third installation in the “Avatar” universe after the 2012 sequel series, “The Legend of Korra.”
These days, the trend in Hollywood and elsewhere in the industry has been to snatch up animated classics and adapt them to live-action, though there are always aspects about animation that can’t quite be replicated to their full impact outside of the medium.
It’s too early to say whether or not this upcoming retelling will be able to capture the vibrant energy, detailed world, and nuanced characters of its source.
There is perhaps one cause, however, for relief: Jeremy Zuckerman, who composed the unforgettable and atmospheric musical score of the original cartoon, will indeed be returning to the new project.