Netflix’s acquisition of the streaming rights to both ATLA and it’s sequel The Legend of Korra has brought the franchise to a new generation of audiences. In 2018, Netflix was met with near-universal approval when they announced that Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko were returning to produce a live-action remake of the beloved series. However, both creators separately announced that they would no longer be a part of the Netflix remake production.
In their statements, Dimartino and Konietzko have made it clear that Netflix has reneged on their intention to make this adaptation in the original creator’s vision. Konietzko took to Instagram, “two years ago (Netflix) made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise,” and Dimartino took to his website to discuss this move, “what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make”. It would appear that the ATLA adaptation is suffering from the dreaded creative differences.
Beloved Fans of the series are no strangers to poor adaptations, having had to suffer through M. Night Shyamalan’s poorly thought out film adaptation, The Last Airbender. Shyamalan’s film lacked much of the charm and energy that made the original show so unique, and it bafflingly kept much of its cast members white, one of the biggest criticisms of the original show. With this recent news, many are looking to leave the franchise alone. Why ruin a good thing?
It’s disingenuous to say that Avatar: The Last Airbender is a perfect series as there are many criticisms regarding the show’s use of different Asian cultures and customs. Most of the Avatar cast is white, a jarring departure from the show’s Asian setting, and many sensitive topics like appropriation and colonization are told through a very white, sometimes colonial lens. Konietzko and Dimartino have previously mentioned putting culturally and racially appropriate actors in the significant roles, but with their departure, many fear that will no longer happen.
By: Ariel Dean
Edited By: Keshav Kant
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a med student tuned Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on Twitter and TikTok, both @MxKantEven, or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels.
From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.