Z vs AVATAR: THE [LIVE-ACTION] AIRBENDER?!?

SUP, DUDE!

Sup, voice in my head! It’s been a while.

PROBABLY FOR THE BEST, CONSIDERING. WHAT’S ON OUR MIND TODAY?

Well as you know we got some pretty big news out of the blue on Tuesday.

CAPTAIN MARVEL LOVES PUNCHING OLD PEOPLE.

What?! Where did that come from?

THERE WAS A LOT OF WEIRD NEWS ON TUESDAY. SPEAKING OF, WHY WAS MARIO CART TRENDING ON TWITTER?

I dunno, Twitter is weird. For now I want to talk about the news that Netflix is adapting Avatar: The Last Airbender into a new live-action TV series!

qqGnn.jpg
Source: Reddit

OH. BIG “LAST AIRBENDER” FAN, ARE YOU?

Yeah I mean, what’s not to like? A charming cast of characters, awesome and creative fight scenes, a great mix of comedy and drama, and of course a war between different nations with the fate of the world at stake — and it all comes together perfectly. I’ve rarely seen a show since that has won me over as quickly and completely as Avatar did.

SOUNDS LIKE YOU’D BE PRETTY JAZZED ABOUT A LIVE-ACTION SERIES, THEN.

Well, kind of. As many fans can sadly attest, this isn’t the property’s first foray into live-action. That distinction belongs to M Night Shyamalan’s 2010 feature length adaptation The Last Airbender, a film largely reviled for failing to capture the spirit of the original cartoon.

AAAAARGH
Source: Movie-Blogger

YEAH, I WASN’T GONNA BRING THIS UP BUT YOU’VE GOT A TON OF REPRESSED MEMORIES FROM SEEING THIS MOVIE.

That checks out. My clearest memory of this movie is seeing it with my brother on opening day, hoping against hope that every review we read was wrong, and then that deep feeling of disappointment as we walked out of the theater two hours later.

YOU REALLY THOUGHT IT WAS GONNA BE GOOD?

You know, I actually did? I have to admit when I first heard there was going to be an Avatar: The Last Airbender movie I was nervous, but I also felt a bit validated.

EVEN AFTER YOU HEARD SHYAMALAN WAS DIRECTING, THAT DIDN’T TRIP ANY ALARMS.

I mean, not right away. Say what you will about Shyamalan’s writing and directing, but this wasn’t some no name coming on to the project. This was a guy with a reputation, albeit a slightly more tarnished one by the time he signed on. Still, he had made a couple fairly well respected movies in the past and I thought, just maybe, this would be the one to turn it around.

AH, TO BE YOUNG AND NAÏVE AGAIN.

Don’t pretend like you weren’t right there with me! You were just as pumped as I was when that first trailer came out. For a little while they fooled you too.

FINE, I’LL ADMIT IT. THAT TRAILER DID GET ME A LITTLE HYPED.

Ha!

SO THERE WAS ONE THING YOU SAID THAT STUCK OUT TO ME BEFORE, HOW YOU FELT “VALIDATED” WHEN THE MOVIE WAS ANNOUNCED.

Yeah I dunno, I guess there’s a part of me that feels like if Avatar had just connected with a wider audience it could potentially be as big as Star Wars is now, mostly because of it’s accessibility. It’s a fascinating story that isn’t afraid to occasionally go into some dark territory, not so dark that kids can’t watch it and not so watered down that adults will feel coddled. I guess I figured if a feature film got made that would be enough to propel the show into a huge global success.

I DUNNO, I THINK THE CARTOON IS DOING A LOT BETTER THESE DAYS THAN A CERTAIN OTHER AVATAR PROPERTY.

avatarinnameonly
Source: Mind, Body, Heart & Soul

Don’t even get me started on that one.

ANOTHER TIME PERHAPS. BACK TO THE OTHER AVATAR-VERSE, THEN.

Yeah, maybe we should talk about something that hasn’t been beaten to death already, like this new TV show.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THIS IS THE INTERNET. THERE ARE PROBABLY HUNDREDS OF POSTS ON WORDPRESS ALONE DISSECTING EVERY INTRICATE DETAIL. IF YOU DON’T JUMP ON THIS STUFF QUICK YOU’RE JUST GONNA GET LEFT IN THE DUST.

Excuse me for having a day job. It’s not like I’m writing for Time here.

PLUS, AND THIS IS MY BIGGEST ISSUE, ASIDE FROM A SHORT PRESS RELEASE AND A SINGLE FRAME OF CONCEPT ART THERE DOESN’T SEEM TO BE MUCH TO DISCUSS.

Ah, but as you so astutely pointed out, this is the Internet: hotbed for baseless speculation and knee-jerk reactions.

I GUESS YOU’VE GOT ME THERE.

concept-art.jpg
Source: John Staub

Let me just get this out of the way right now: that first picture of Aang and Appa in the middle of the snowy landscape looks freaking gorgeous. I already want a print of this enlarged and hung up on my wall.

I THINK EVEN PEOPLE WHO AREN’T FAMILIAR WITH THE SHOW WOULD AGREE WITH THAT. JOHN STAUB REALLY HIT THIS ONE OUT OF THE PARK.

Agreed. If this new show looks half as good as the concept art it’ll go a long way towards wining me over.

YOU’RE FEELING SKEPTICAL. BIG SURPRISE.

Can you blame me? Look, I’m as thrilled as anyone that Netflix thinks there’s value in bringing back one of my favorite shows in this new format, but it’s not like we can just sweep that first attempt at a live-action adaptation under the rug.

BASED ON THE WAY THE PRESS RELEASE WAS WORDED I DON’T THINK ANYONE INVOLVED HAS FORGOTTEN. CHECK OUT THIS QUOTE FROM AVATAR‘S CREATORS:

“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.”

That does seem like a pretty direct dig at their last “cinematic” outing. I like that they made sure to include the bit about casting as well; cultural diversity was practically woven into the DNA of the original cartoon. Honestly though, it’s not like white-washing was the film’s biggest issue.

IT CERTAINLY DIDN’T EARN THE MOVIE ANY POINTS. IN ANY CASE, THERE DOESN’T APPEAR TO BE A TRACE OF SHYAMALAN-NANIGANS IN SIGHT. THAT’S GOTTA PUT YOU AT EASE.

I won’t lie, it helps. That and the fact that the chief showrunners behind this new series are none other than the original creators of Avatar: Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino.

creators
Source: Hypable

MAKES SENSE. IF YOU’RE GONNA TRUST SOMEONE TO HANDLE THE ADAPTATION OF A WELL-LOVED SERIES, YOU COULD DO A HECK OF A LOT WORSE THAN HIRING THE GUYS WHO CAME UP WITH IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled they decided to be involved at all, especially after the duo seemed intent on exploring new projects outside of Avatar. Still, I can’t help but fear this will end up being a re-imagining we don’t really need.

YOU DO REALIZE HOW HYPOCRITICAL THAT SOUNDS? IT WASN’T TOO LONG AGO YOU WERE HYPED FOR AN ADAPTATION FROM M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN.

I suppose it doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense when you put it like that, especially when one of my chief complaints with the movie was that it tried to do too much in too little time. In theory, the TV format would give the storytellers multiple episodes to develop the world, the characters, and the story properly, as well as possibly explore some material they couldn’t get to in the cartoon.

THERE’S CERTAINLY A NUMBER OF POSSIBILITIES TO CONSIDER.

That’s putting it lightly! Imagine them doing standalone episodes featuring Avatars from the past having their own adventures, possibly leading up to the Hundred Year War between the four nations. Even beyond that, they could do episodes that didn’t feature the Avatar at all and just have stories exploring other corners of the Avatar universe: soldiers fighting on the front lines; innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire; more trips into the mysterious Spirit World. That could be potentially amazing stuff!

CAREFUL, DUDE. YOU’RE DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO SOUNDING OPTIMISTIC.

I won’t pretend this kind of thing doesn’t get me excited, I just can’t help but wonder if Netflix or Nickelodeon could have done something with the Avatar universe we haven’t seen before.

LIKE ANOTHER SEQUEL, YOU MEAN. WAS THE LEGEND OF KORRA NOT ENOUGH?

Korra was fine, but there’s still so many different ways they can go from here. Maybe skip ahead a few more generations and show a world that reflects our own times with the Avatar as basically a figurehead, or show how the world develops when spirits can travel through the physical world freely. Or they can go back into the past and cover the adventures of previous Avatar’s, not as standalone episodes but full season adventures, like a sort of Avatar Anthology series. I guess I just want to see the creators switch things up a bit instead of re-imagining a story that was already near perfect.

NEAR PERFECT?

We probably didn’t need the Grand Canyon episode.

Source: The Mary Sue

THEN YOU ADMIT THERE WERE SOME THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN IMPROVED.

I mean, yeah, could some things have been cut? Sure. Was everything in the show handled perfectly? No. But for every one thing the writers did wrong they still did many, many more things right. Even the bad stuff wasn’t all that bad, I mean Avatar is essentially a show meant for kids so I can’t expect every episode to cater to me as an adult. Still, they learned as they went along and by the end we still had a really great run of episodes to look back on.

PERHAPS YOU SHOULD GIVE THE CREATORS A BIT MORE CREDIT. AS YOU SAID, THEY WERE LEARNING AS THEY WENT ALONG, ADJUSTING THINGS WHEN THEY WEREN’T WORKING AND FOCUSING ON THE STUFF THAT DID. NOW THEY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO RETELL THEIR STORY TAKING ALL THOSE LESSONS INTO ACCOUNT FROM THE BEGINNING. DON’T YOU THINK THEY’VE EARNED A LITTLE FAITH?

Well when you put it like that it makes me sound really ungrateful.

IF THE ARROW FITS.

That was terrible.

FAIR ENOUGH, I’LL OWN THAT. BESIDES, IT’S NOT LIKE HAVING ONE THING HAS TO COME AT THE EXPENSE OF THE OTHER. IF THE LIVE-ACTION SHOW IS A BIG ENOUGH SUCCESS WITH AUDIENCES THERE IS A MORE THAN LIKELY POSSIBILITY WE COULD GET OTHER TALES SET IN THE LAST AIRBENDER UNIVERSE AFTER THAT.

You’re basically saying “why can’t we have both”?

BASICALLY.

I guess I don’t have a very good answer to that right now. Shoot, I was really hoping I could get properly angry about something today and now I’m all mellowed out.

GIVE IT TIME. FOR NOW ALL WE CAN DO IS WAIT AND HOPE THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE SCENES ARE AS PASSIONATE ABOUT GETTING THE SHOW RIGHT AS YOU ARE.

We’ll see. Even if this attempt turns out to be another flop it doesn’t mean the original show isn’t still a fantastic series. It’s not like my disliking the Shyamalan movie retroactively made me hate the cartoon, despite it’s best efforts.

YOU REALLY DID NOT LIKE THAT MOVIE.

Me and just about every sentient being that watched it.

Piando.org

SO, WE GOOD? I WOULD LIKE VERY MUCH TO STOP TALKING TO MYSELF NOW.

Yeah, that should do it. I suppose you’ll know the next time I need to talk.

ABOUT THAT. MAYBE NEXT TIME YOU FEEL A FANBOY RAGE COMING ON, PERHAPS YOU COULD TRY A HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVE.

Hmmm, such as?

I DUNNO, YOGA? A COLORING BOOK? LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE BESIDES HOLDING AN IMAGINARY CONVERSATION WITH YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS.

Tell you what, I promise to strongly consider it.

I’M IN YOUR HEAD, DUDE, I CAN TELL WHEN YOU’RE LYING.

Fair enough, I’ll own that.

UNTIL NEXT TIME THEN: FLAMEO, HOTMAN!


All images used are the property of their respective owners and have been sourced appropriately. Avatar: The Last Airbender is owned by Nickelodeon Studios. I own nothing.

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