5 Things Netflix's New Avatar Show Must Keep from The Animated Series
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The TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, ended back in 2008, but fans are still just as rabid as ever. While we did get a movie back in 2010, most fans will feign amnesia and tell you that that movie doesn’t even exist (though, its director, M Night Shyamalan still defends it to this day). But now, we have a new Netflix live-action show coming, and fans couldn’t be happier. Especially since the series’ original creators, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, will be executive producers this time around.
But while we can probably rest assured that this version will be much better than the movie since Shyamalan has his hands full with another project and won’t be dealing with the show, I still have some misgivings. Yes, the co-creators have already addressed the elephant in the room and said that this version won’t be white-washed, but I still have a few other things that I hope this version nails that the movie unfortunately didn’t.
A huge (HUGE) problem with the movie was that the whole thing was completely humorless. Any fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender will tell you that humor plays a major part in the appeal of the show. This isn’t The Legend of Korra where humor kind of played second fiddle to the overall story. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, humor was one of its defining qualities, and to rob fans of that a second time around would be a crying shame.
Again, since the original creators are working much more closely with this project, this new show will hopefully retain the humor that fans have come to expect from the series. But this is live-action, and humor isn’t always as easy when you don’t have the animated visual cues that the original show could employ. So here’s hoping that this version is at least still lighthearted, which brings me to my second must-have.
The Show Must Have Hope
I’m not saying that the movie-version of Avatar: The Last Airbender was hopeless. In fact, I’m one of the few apologists of the movie who will say that it got a lot more right than it got wrong when it comes to the series. But given that this is live-action and Netflix, one thing that I feel needs to get retained from the animated series is hope. A lot of this is attributed to the various conflicts the characters had to go through in the story. Yes, the conflict definitely got real at times, especially when Aang was forced to go into his Avatar state, but it never got to the point that you didn’t think the heroes would come out okay in the end.
Even Zuko, who seemed to have the most hopeless chances of happiness, eventually showed that even the most brow-beaten, discouraged character could find hope at the end of the journey. I just don’t want the Netflix version to try to be all serious and miss that crucial aspect of the show—that Avatar: The Last Airbender is a series that is all about hope.
All The Core Characters Need To Be There
I’m not saying that all the core characters need to be there in the very first season (more on that in a few), but I am saying that all of our favorite characters—Aang, Sokka, Katara, Zuko, Appa, Momo, Uncle Iroh, and for the love of God, Toph Beifong—need to be in the show at at least some point. One major problem with the movie (besides the fact that some of the characters' names weren’t even pronounced correctly) was that we didn’t even get to see Toph since she appeared in Book 2 of the series, and the movie only covered Book 1 territory.
But with this show being a Netflix series, I am saying that it needs to be mandatory that we get all of the key characters at at least some point. Not only that, but I also want to see some of the ancillary characters, too, like King Bumi, and of course the Cabbage Merchant. I feel like with the show being able to stretch its legs, it shouldn’t be a problem fitting in everybody’s favorite characters in some point of the story. Make it happen!
One Book At A Time, Please
The cartoon was three seasons long, with each season being called a book. Book 1 was Water, Book 2 was Earth, and Book 3 was Fire (we unfortunately never got a Book 4, which would have presumably been Air). But here’s the thing. I don’t want the series rushed like the first movie was. With a TV show, I want each season to be one book at a time. What that means is, I don’t want Toph introduced early on since Toph is something else entirely, and I would like the other core characters to be introduced first before we get Ms. Beifong to make an appearance.
In general, I just want the series to not be in a hurry to tell its story. The beauty of the original show was that the pacing felt perfect. I want some more perfect pacing with this new series. This is Netflix, after all. They have the money to take their time.
Aang Must Still Be Discovered
Lastly, this might feel like a small thing, but I really feel that the story must start off with Sokka and Katara discovering Aang. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with my last concern, but I don’t want this show to rush things. I've seen images of Aang with Appa in the Water Nation, so the new show will most likely start the way the old show began. But I don’t know, I just have this feeling that the show’s two creators might be hesitant to hold things back after seeing the movie version crash and burn so terribly.
Like the show itself, I have hope. Again, having the two creators working so closely with the project makes me believe that Aang will be stuck in a chunk of ice and that he will be discovered by Sokka and Katara. I mean, that is a key point to Aang’s origin as to why he’s still a child when Sokka and Katara find him. I just hope the creators stick to that origin story. But you never know when things go live-action. Just look at Disney when they adapt their cartoons into live-action. Stuff is always getting changed around and altered. I just don’t want the same for my Avatar.
And those are the five MUSTS that I feel this new show has to nail. What are your thoughts on all this, though? Sound off in the comments.
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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