The Last Airbender Actually Had To Change Its Name Thanks To Avatar. Now One Creative Has An A+ Way Of Water Joke

Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
(Image credit: Nickelodeon)

The Avatar debate has been raging on for almost a decade now. Of course, there is the camp devoted to the Nickelodeon cult classic Avatar: The Last Airbender. Then, there’s the faction dedicated to James Cameron’s billion-dollar sci-fi hit Avatar. While the 2009 film came after the animated TV series, the name became synonymous with the Oscar-nominated film. This is what caused the “who’s the real Avatar” debate that has been quietly going on between the two factions for years. Now, that Avatar: The Way of Water is days away from release on the 2022 film schedule the discourse has picked up again. With the rekindling of this debate, a creative from The Last Airbender has entered the chat with a Way of Water joke after the series had to change its name.

Prolific animation artist and director Giancarlo Volpe saw the debate sparking up again so he hopped on Twitter to provide his two cents on the matter. The animator took a moment to clear up why the animated series had to be called Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not just Avatar

He mentioned that the creative team, including series creator Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, learned about the rights to the “Avatar” name upon going into production on the cult classic in 2004 Of course. Volpe saw some connection between the elemental factor of the TV series and the long-delayed sequel’s title too. He took it in jest by making a series-related quip. Check out his cheeky joke with his suggestion for Avatar 3’s title in his post below.  

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If the next Avatar sequel has a fire theme, fans might have to question who’s copying whom. You start leaning toward the air and earth elements, then, the Oscar-winning director might have to answer some questions from the TLA fandom. However, viewers will have to wait until 20th Century Studios and Cameron announce the titles for Avatar 3, 4, and 5

Volpe wasn’t the only one who had jokes about the latest connection between the two franchises. One Twitter user followed up the funny tweet by calling the animated TV series the real “Avatar” while offering some cheeky alternatives for the James Cameron hit.

Avatar the Last Airbender is the real "avatar". I just call the other one, "the one with the blue people" or sci-fi pocahontas. Lol.

Another user cosigned the tweet’s latter suggestion. However, a fellow replier commented on how they differentiate between the blockbuster film and the Nickelodeon animated series.

I always call them "The Blue Avatar" and "The Good Avatar" to avoid any confusion.

The Na’vi’s blue skin has played a role in audiences separating the two properties. So, another Twitter user was adamant the animated TV series owned the name while getting in a jab at the billion-dollar blockbuster.

For me it's "Avatar" (yours) and "the one with the blue people" aka "no, I'm not talking about that one, no one cares about that"

Of course, before James Cameron’s Avatar arrived in theaters, most viewers just referred to the animated series as Avatar. Things changed once the blockbuster film was announced. The confusion continued after the first film hit theaters and the TV series had completed its run on Nickelodeon. But things got even more confusing when the TV series received the live-action treatment in 2010 titled The Last Airbender. It had to leave off the “Avatar” name to prevent further confusion between the two franchises.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is currently experiencing a renaissance with DiMartino and Konietzko set to develop and release new works based around the series, including the first in a series of animated films. There’s also the live-action Netflix series with an all-star cast in the works, which the producers stepped away from over creative differences. It is currently unknown when the live-action series or the animated film will premiere. In the meantime, you can watch the animated cult classic with a Netflix subscription and Paramont+ account, plus you can check out Avatar: The Way of Water in theaters on December 16. 

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).