Back in September, it was announced that the original creators of Nickelodeon’s beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender were teaming up with Netflix for a live-action adaptation. To give you an idea of just how much has changed since then in the fast-moving world of pop culture, Venom and A Star Is Born had yet to arrive in theaters and we were all still trying to make heads or tails of The Predator. But fellow benders of air, earth, fire and water should not fear; though there have been few updates since that first announcement, we do know the project is still slowly moving forward.
In an effort to keep you updated on the highly-anticipated big-budget adaptation, here are all the details we have so far.
Details on the specifics of the remake’s story are few and far between, but it is widely expected that the live-action take will closely adhere to the arc of the animated series.
The original thrust audiences into a world divided into four distinct powers: the Fire Nation, Air Nomads, Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom. Among each group, a select few people known as “Benders” possessed the ability to physically manipulate their nation’s element through a mix of martial arts and special powers. Among them emerged one individual capable of employing all four: the Avatar. In the series, protagonist Aang and his friends attempt to save the world by defeating the evil Fire Lord Emperor and ending the worldwide war the Fire Nation is waging.
Though Avatar: The Last Airbender only ran for 61 episodes, the show—along with its sequel, The Legend of Korra—are held on a high pedestal among fans and critics alike.
“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender,” original creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said at the time of the project’s announcement. They later added: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”
And don’t worry, folks. The live-action TV series will not be connected to the disappointing 2010 film adaptation.
Cast and Crew
The series is still very much in the early stages of pre-production, so no actors are attached yet. But the creators are casting a wide net to gather a diverse and eclectic group of performers.
“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,” DiMartino and Konietzko were also quoted as saying. The pair will serve as executive producer and showrunners. Original composer Jeremy Zuckerman is also returning for the new version.
“We’re really excited about it. Netflix seems really on-board and supportive,” Zuckerman said earlier this year. “I think they’re really committed to getting it right. It feels nice to have that support.”
Unfortunately, original head writer Aaron Ehasz isn’t directly involved as he’s currently working on his own Netflix animated series, The Dragon Prince. Still, he sounds optimistic about the show’s prospects.
“I know, they have a big challenge ahead,” Ehasz told Inverse, “but they definitely have more creative freedom, more support, and a better chance to tell the authentic story in a way that I think the fans of Avatar will enjoy.”
Dan Lin will reportedly be executive producing alongside his production company Lin Pictures. His recent credits include The Lego Movie, Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes series, Aladdin and the It franchise.
UPDATE 10/27: The Last Airbender will reportedly begin filming in February 2020.
Unfortunately, this live-action reimagining of The Last Airbender does not yet have an official series order or release date. However, we can assume based on Netflix’s track record that the first season will likely consist of between eight and 13 episodes. The Witcher scored an eight-episode season order; The Dragon Prince runs nine episodes per season; and several live-action Netflix originals such as the Marvel series or House of Cards generally ran for 13 episodes a pop.
As the series is still deep into pre-production, it’s going to be some time until the episodes hit Netflix. Depending on how long production takes, we likely won’t be seeing the show until mid-2020.