Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender loses original creators
After M. Night Shyamalan’s disastrous film adaptation, Netflix’s live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender had a lot of work to do to prove its potential and now it has hit a major speed bump as original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have exited the project, according to Variety.
“Many of you have been asking me for updates about the Avatar live-action Netflix series,” DiMartino wrote in an open letter on his website. “I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved with the project. In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.”
DiMartino revealed that despite Netflix committing to the duo and their vision for the live-action series, the streaming platform reversed course on some of this creative freedom and plans changed for the project and though he did his “best to go with the flow,” they had to know when to cut their losses and move on. Despite his exiting the live-action series, however, DiMartino confirmed he is still involved with the franchise as a whole and assured fans not to completely close off hope for the project.
“And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good,” he wrote. “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.”
The live-action version of the hit Nickelodeon animated series was first ordered at Netflix in September 2018. The animated version aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon from February 2005 to July 2008. The series received substantial acclaim during its run, picking up multiple Annie Awards, Genesis Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Peabody Award. The sequel series, “Legend of Korra,” aired for four seasons from 2012-2014.
The original Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series aired on Nickelodeon from 2005-2008. In 2007, Sangjin Kim won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for the series, which ran for 61 episodes.
In the series, the world is divided into four nations — the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads — each represented by a natural element for which the nation is named. Benders have the ability to control and manipulate the element from their nation. Only the Avatar is the master of all four elements. The ruthless Fire Nation wants to conquer the world but the only bender who has enough power, the Avatar, has disappeared … until now. His tribe soon discovers that Aang is the long-lost Avatar. Now Katara and Sokka must safeguard Aang on his journey to master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation.
In 2010, M. Night Shyamalan adapted The Last Airbender for the big screen, which earned over $319 million at the worldwide box office off of a $150 million production budget. The movie was met with harsh reviews from critics and fans of the beloved animated series, especially given the whitewashing controversy.