The last time someone tried to take the acclaimed and beloved animated franchise Avatar: The Last Airbender into the realm of live-action, it went horribly, horribly wrong. Now, the creation of Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will get another shot. It was announced today that Netflix will produce a reimagined live-action series based on the award-winning and beloved Nickelodeon animated series with DiMartino and Konietzko serving as showrunners and executive producers. The new series, in partnership with Nickelodeon, will be exclusively available on Netflix and will start production in 2019.
Over the three seasons (or “Books”), Avatar: The Last Airbender nabbed numerous awards nominations and wins, taking home hardware from the Annie Awards, Genesis Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Peabody Award. The original series followed the adventures of Aang, the reawakened and current incarnation of the avatar and master of all four elements, as he traveled the world with human and animal friends alike in order to master his abilities and defeat Fire Lord Ozai before he led the Fire Nation in a global takeover. It’s a truly masterful bit of storytelling. The franchise found that lightning struck twice with the follow-up series of The Legend of Korra, but now another generation of fans will get experience the world of Avatar in live-action.
Here’s what DiMartino and Konietzko said in a statement:
“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We can’t wait to realize 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 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, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”
Note the “culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast” remark, which was just one of the failings of M. Night Shymalan‘s dismal feature film attempt. Fingers crossed the show takes its time with the casting to find the perfect incarnations (ha!) for the show’s eclectic cast of characters.
Melissa Cobb, vice-president of Kids & Family Content for Netflix also said:
“We are committed to honoring Bryan and Mike’s vision for this retelling and are thrilled to support them on creating a live-action event series, bringing Aang’s epic world of elemental magic to life for global audiences on Netflix.”
And Chris Viscardi, Senior Vice President, Animation Production and Development, Nickelodeon added:
“Avatar: The Last Airbender continues to grow and resonate with fans around the world due its combination of relatable characters with all their foibles and a fully realized world of epic, high-stakes stories and adventures. This partnership with Netflix is part of our broader efforts at Nick and Viacom to tap into our enormous library of culturally resonant properties to produce new interpretations, and we can’t wait for people to see Netflix’s live-action version of Avatar.”