Netflix’s live-action adaptation series of Avatar: The Last Airbender is due to begin production in less than a month in Vancouver. While the original creators are no longer involved with the Netflix live-action Avatar project, there’s plenty to look forward to.
Here’s an updated guide to everything we know about Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s live-action Netflix series including the new cast announcements and more!
Co-created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the animated series was one of the most popular cartoons of the mid-2000s. The series spawned an equally popular spin-off series in 2012 known as The Legend of Korra (both of which are streaming on Netflix in the majority of regions around the world but are expected to leave eventually).
The first season of the Netflix live-action series is set to be 10 episodes at an hour-long each.
The plot of the live-action remake will retread the same adventures as its animated counterpart.
In the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender civilization is divided into four separate nations. Named after the elements, the four nations are the Air Nomads, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and the Water Tribes. In each nation, only a select few people known as the “Benders” can use their nation’s element by using the regional martial arts and their telekinetic powers. The only user capable of using all four elements is the “Avatar”.
Aang is the latest Avatar of the air nomads. After sleeping for 100 years in the ‘Avatar State’, Aang is awoken by Katara and Sokka of the Water Tribe. Learning of the war ravaging the world by the Fire Nation, Aang with the help of his new friends must master the abilities of the remaining elements so he can bring harmony amongst the nations.
Who is in the cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender?
On August 6th, 2021 AvatarNews exclusively reported that four cast members had joined the project after months of casting.
The four cast members announced were for the roles of Aang, Katara, Sokka and Zuko.
Here’s who will be playing the iconic roles:
- Gordon Cormier (Lost in Space) as Aang
- Kiawentiio Tarbell (Anne with an E) as Katara
- Ian Ousley (13 Reasons Why) as Sokka
- Dallas Liu (PEN15) as Zuko
Alongside the cast announcements, Albert Kim had the following to say:
“We’ll be expanding and growing the world, and there will be surprises for existing fans and those new to the tale. But throughout this process, our byword has been “authenticity.” To the story. To the characters. To the cultural influences. Authenticity is what keeps us going, both in front of the camera and behind it a live-action version would establish a new benchmark in representation and bring in a whole new generation of fans. This was a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in.”
Before their departure from the project, here’s what Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko had to say about casting the series:
“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.”
Despite rumors up until the official cast announcement, Dante Basco (who voiced Prince Zuko in the animated series) had been pegged for a role in the upcoming Netflix series but eventually confirmed he wouldn’t be returning as Prince Zuko.
In an interview with ComicBook.com in September 2021, Dallas Liu spoke about the pressure going into the first season saying:
“… because it is such a beloved show I feel like there is some pressure to do a great job and not that I’m doubting anyone or the project at all, but this is the biggest project and the biggest role that I’ve been able to take part in now, especially leading with a character like Zuko, who’s so complex and one of, if not the favorite, one of the favorites of the show with his fire bending and his history. I mean, he’s such an incredible character and he has one of my favorite character developments in all of the animated series. So, I mean, I’m just as much of a fan of Zuko as everyone else is. So I mean, obviously I’m excited because this is like a dream, but at the same time, it gets a little nerve-wracking. You know? To do a good job, and I mean, at the end of the day I can only do what I’m capable of, but I hope that people enjoy my performance.
The most exciting news early in the project was that the original creators of the Nickelodeon series would be involved.
That’s unlike the previous live adaption of Avatar: The Last Airbender that was released in 2010 by Nickelodeon and largely panned.
Unfortunately, the original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko who were going to serve as the executive producers and showrunners departed the project in mid-2020.
Composer Jeremy Zuckerman was also believed to be returning to compose the music for the live-action remake, however, in an interview, he says he’s not officially signed on for the project saying:
“No, there was never a contract. It was just like “obviously you’re doing the music”, you know, but now that they’re not there, I don’t know what they’re gonna want. I’m not super pumped that they’re not gonna be there, so I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know what the future holds for that, it’s a big question mark. Yeah, sorry to not have a happier, more straightforward answer.”
On July 21st, 2021 he further added that he would not be involved in any capacity with the project.
To those who are wondering, I will not be working on the Netflix live action ATLA adaptation. However, I’m beyond excited to further explore the Avatar universe with Mike, Bryan, and everyone else at Avatar Studios.
— Jeremy Zuckerman (@jeremyzuckerman) July 21, 2021
Dan Lin is listed as an executive producer alongside his company, Rideback. Rideback is responsible for some huge movies (predominantly for Warner Brothers) including the Sherlock Holmes movies, the Lego Movies, and IT films.
Albert Kim has taken over the showrunning duties for Avatar: The Last Airbender. Kim is known for working on TNT’s Leverage and Nikita. In addition, Ryan Halprin and Lindsey Liberatore are listed as producers with Rideback Productions being the primary production company behind the project. Rideback recently sold off another project to Netflix in the form of Parallel.
Jang Chol Lee will serve as a concept designer on the series according to IMDBPro with his previous credits including Big Hero 6, Tangled, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Beowulf.
Marc David Alpert was at one point producing the series too. Marc’s impressive credits span decades with him working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lethal Weapon, and Nikita.
Our friends at AvatarNews.co revealed on July 1st that Michael Wylie would be on board as a production designer. His impressive resume includes Pushing Daisies which was released on Disney+.
In June 2021, we’ve learned that Michael Goi is set to direct in the new Netflix series. Although yet to be officially confirmed, the accomplished cinematographer has worked previously on projects such as American Horror Story, Swamp Thing, Mary and Megan is Missing.
Alongside the cast announcement, two more directors were announced for Avatar: The Last Airbender series including Roseanne Liang and Jabbar Haisani.
In October 2021, AvatarNews caught wind of a huge recruitment process looking for “Asian & Indigenous performers with martial arts or dance backgrounds” citing that the first book features lots of key battles with heavy choreography.