Netflix is still going ahead with its live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon‘s beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, recently announcing its new cast and creative team. The showrunner, executive producer, and writer will be Albert Kim, best known for his work on Sleepy Hollow and Nikita. He will be joined by executive producers Dan Lin, Lindsey Liberatore, and Michael Goi of Swamp Thing and American Horror Story. Finally, the co-executive producer will be Roseanne Liang.
For those that have never watched an episode of Avatar (truly fix that as soon as possible), the series is set in a world inspired by Asian culture and anime. Four kingdoms exist that correspond with people who can manipulate one of the four elements — the Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribe, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. The main narrative follows Aang, a 12-year-old boy who is the Avatar, a person who can bend all four elements and is said to bring balance to the world. Reappearing after missing for 100 years, he discovers that the Fire Nation has destroyed all Air Nomads and attempting to seize control of the world.
Gordon Cormier has been cast as Aang, the silly and fun-loving Avatar who struggles with the reluctant hero syndrome. Over the course of the series, he must master all four elements if he is to take on the Fire Lord and restore balance to the world. This is actually not Cormier‘s first big series, as he recently starred as Joe in the adaptation of Steven King‘s The Stand.
Kiawentiio will play Katara, the 14-year-old crush of Aang and a determined and hopeful waterbender. She is the last waterbender in the Southern Water Tribe after the Fire Nation attacked it years ago and killed her mother. She and her brother join Aang on his mission to learn all four elements. Kiawentiio has appeared in such series as Anne with an E and Rutherford Falls.
Ian Ousley has been cast as Sokka, Katara’s 16-year-old brother and the comic relief of the group. As the eldest, he is the unofficial leader of the group, and while he can be overconfident and brash, he struggles with his insecurities about being a non-bender and his fear that he will be unable to protect his friends and family. Ousley has appeared in a few series as well, like Netflix‘s hit 13 Reasons Why and AppleTV+’s Physical with Rose Byrne.
And finally, future heartthrob Dallas Liu will play Zuko. The 17-year-old firebender is the Prince of the Fire Nation, but he has been exiled by his father for showing disrespect and talking out of turn (he’ll be the one screaming “honor” a lot). Desperate to capture the Avatar and regain his honor, Zuko is the main antagonist of the first season. Liu will appear in the upcoming Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and also has a role on Hulu‘s Emmy-nominated PEN15.
While this all sounds very promising and exciting, it is tragic that the series will continue on without the original creators and producers. Last year, both Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko stepped away from the Netflix adaptation, citing creative differences. Let’s hope that these new creatives can pull together a worthy adaptation, and I’m excited to see who will round out of the rest of the like cast Uncle Iroh and Suki. Check out showrunner Kim‘s blog post about bringing Avatar: The Last Airbender to life here.