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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender was a disappointing mess


Live-action remakes tend to have mixed results regarding the franchises they’re recreating. Some—like the live-action One Piece released in 2023—find enormous success within and beyond their respected fanbase, entertaining old fanatics while simultaneously enticing new viewers to the show.

Other times, however, live actions can stray from a course of action that makes them too dissimilar from their original for fans to enjoy. Sadly, that was the category I feel like the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender ended up taking. 

The live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender was announced to be in production back in 2018, with the showrunners and executive producers, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konieztko—best known for being the co-creators behind the legendary animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. 

However, in 2020, both producers announced that they were leaving the project over creative disagreements with Netflix. The current executive producer, Albert Kim, then took over production eventually leading to the release of the date being announced for February 22, 2024. 

The live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place in a mythical world divided into four unique nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. In these distinctive lands, some people are known as ‘benders’ who can control one of the four elements: water, fire, earth, and air.

However, there is only one person who can bend all four elements: the Avatar. The Avatar is seen as a protector of peace and harmony and is meant to help maintain the balance between nations to ensure chaos does not reign rampant.

At the beginning of the story, the Avatar has yet to appear.

The first episode starts with a chase scene in the dark alleys of the Fire Nation’s capital. A man, who appears to be an Earthbender, rushes away from fire-bending guards with a scroll in hand. It’s a desperate fight between the man and the soldiers, and when he sees more guards approaching, he throws the scroll to a compatriot nearby and orders him to deliver it to the Earth Kingdom.

The Fire Nation is planning to start a war. 

The Fire Nation is planning to start a war.

The compatriot rushes off as the man is captured by the guards, leading to the next scene of introducing the spy to Fire Lord Sozin—the leader of the Fire Nation. He explains his masterful plan in which he wanted the spy to deliver news of the war to the world so that the other nations would be too focused on the Earth Kingdom’s borders instead of their own.

The show then cuts to a young boy—dressed in an orange monk-inspired attire and a blue arrow tattooed across his shaved head. We learn that his name is Aang(Gordon Cormier) and he is a talented young Airbender living with the Air Nomads in the Southern Air Temple.

We learn from an interaction between Aang and his mentor, Gyatso(Lim Kay Siu) that the Airbenders are all gathering together to celebrate the Great Comet festival. And later on in the same episode, Gyatso reveals something terrifying to Aang. That Aang is the Avatar.

Skipping some of the plot, the Avatar—Aang—ends up disappearing from the world for 100 years. He is eventually found by Katara(Kiawentiio Tarbell) and Sokka(Ian Ousley) of the Southern Water Tribe, where he ends up getting chased by Prince Zuko(Dallas Liu).

There are some things that the show ended up doing that made it tiresome to watch. The main examples I can think of are rewriting characters for a modern audience, cramming the plot, and tiresome dialogue.

For characters, I feel like Aang and Sokka’s characters were rewritten in a way that doesn’t do well with the original series. The original Aang was written as a character who ran away from the responsibilities of the Avatar because he didn’t feel ready for those responsibilities. However, live-action Aang ran away because he needed space not because he didn’t accept the role.

That makes some of the adventures the live-action counterpart goes on—which are the same as the original—seem too different from the original franchise and characters in a bad way. Moreover, the cramming of the plot and the tiresome dialogue went hand in hand, although I feel like it did improve throughout the series. 

If there was one thing I did appreciate about the live-action it was the choreography. Seems like Netflix learned from the mistakes of Avatar: The Last Airbender(2010) and made the combat and bending much faster and smoother.

In the end, I was disappointed with the live-action and wouldn’t be surprised if does not have a second season. However, I do believe the show has potential and is slightly entertaining to those who are interested in Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise. 

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About the Contributor
Ava Tilley
Ava Tilley, Staff Writer
Ava is a senior entering her second year writing for the Central Trend. She strives to be a passionate writer, hopelessly curious about all topics, and this year her goal is to improve the quality of her writing to be more engaging and fulfilling to the audience and her readers. Favorite Snack: Frozen raspberries, surprisingly delicious. Favorite Time to Write: Early morning, around 7-9 am Favorite Pet: I have no favorite, I love all my children equally!...(my cat)

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