Nickelodeon went in a brand new direction back in 2005 with the debut of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and that direction proved to be a huge success that has continued growing more than 15 years later with the Legend of Korra series, comics, books, and an expanding Avatarverse. Now, Dante Basco of The Last Airbender and Janet Varney of The Legend of Korra are joining forces for a new project, and they opened up about discovering fandom and – of course – "honor" ahead of its premiere.
Dante Basco and Janet Varney – best known among Avatar fans as Prince Zuko and Avatar Korra – are teaming up for the Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast that will follow them as they rewatch every episode of The Last Airbender and eventually Legend of Korra and deliver some unique commentary, complete with special guests. The Avatar universe has only gotten more popular in recent years, with the shows finding a new audience thanks to streaming and more projects on the way. The hosts spoke with CinemaBlend about their experiences with all things Avatarverse.
With this brand new audience finding the fandom thanks to Netflix in a very different pop culture climate than when the series first aired, Dante Basco and Janet Varney weighed in on what kind of reactions they see with people getting to binge-watch compared to back in the day of the live broadcasts. Basco, who debuted as Zuko all the way back in 2005, explained:
For the Avatar: The Last Airbender team back when the three seasons of the show aired from 2005-2008, social media didn't exist nearly on the scale as today, so Dante Basco's experience with fandom was very different than it would be if the show was airing for the first time in 2021. The Last Airbender was a hit with critics and won a loyal following back in its original day to cement its legacy, but the huge boom in popularity thanks to Netflix guaranteed a much larger fandom than before. Basco continued, saying:
The Avatar universe returned to television in 2012 with the premiere of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, centered on Janet Varney's Korra as the first Avatar following the death of Aang. Although Korra shares a universe and some of the same characters, it certainly wasn't The Last Airbender 2.0 and expanded the world that fans may have thought they already knew front to back from the original show and comics. Varney shared her perspective on fandom reactions, with Korra releasing more recently but still several years ago:
The Avatar universe has become enough of a hit that voice actors are being recognized for their roles playing animated characters, which undoubtedly isn't the case for every animated project. Of course, Legend of Korra had a built-in group of fans invested in the universe already, so the reactions were bound to be passionate. And, in Janet Varney's words that echo those of Prince Zuko, the Avatar TV stars and podcast hosts want to "honor" the fandom.
Dante Basco and Janet Varney will bring those efforts as Avatar ambassadors to the podcast arena in the not-too-distant future thanks to Avatar: Braving the Elements. The Nickelodeon podcast will feature the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra stars going back through every episode of The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra in a rewatch to break down themes, battles, and behind-the-scenes trivia. They'll even bring in special guests, including Jack De Sena (Sokka), Jennie Kwan (Suki), Kevin Michael Richardson (Tyro), fighting instructor and consultant Sifu Kisu, and co-creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, with more on the way.
New installments of the Braving the Elements podcast will release weekly starting with the first on Tuesday, June 22, available on iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and more. If you want to rewatch along with Dante Basco and Janet Varney (or just dive into the series on your own time), you can find both Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra streaming on Netflix and on Paramount+. For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule!
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).