Written by Anna Lopez
It’s hard to believe Avatar: The Last Airbender was first aired on television fifteen years ago.
Writers and creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are clearly masters at their craft as they have built the world of “bending”; the four elements Water, Earth, Fire and Air are controllable by people.
The storyline remains consistent in which Aang, the Avatar, must master control of all four elements to defeat the Firelord. However the Firelord, ruler of the Fire Nation as well as aspiring ruler of the world, is not the only problem Aang and his team of friends face on their journey.
What the writers and creators do extremely well is explain real world problems through the show and make it palatable for children to understand.
The first and most continuous matter brought to the attention of viewers is the imperialism and war caused by the Fire Nation. Numerous times viewers are shown the negative effects of war by addressing war refugees, the loss of family members, and the imperialistic takeover by the Fire Nation.
Another example would be when Team Avatar, specifically Katara, experiences sexism when arriving to the North Pole. She and Aang are eager to refine their water bending skills, until the water bending master denies Katara training since she is a girl.
Not to mention the iconic episode, “Appa’s Lost Days” that touches on animal cruelty.
Despite all of the tough lessons learned throughout the show there is a great balance of positive moments gleaned by Team Avatar such as forgiveness, friendship, and most importantly redemption.
Interestingly enough, Netflix announced their plan to recreate The Last Airbender into a live action series back in 2018. However, on August 12th of this year both DiMartino and Konietzko revealed their decision to leave the Netflix production team.
According to DiMartino, he and Konietzko left the Netflix production team due to creative differences.
“But what I can be certain about is whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.” DiMartino wrote to fans after announcing that he and Konietzko are no longer involved.
Hopes are high for the Netflix production as the last live-action project of The Last Airbender did not sit well with fans. However, there is new uncertainty since the original creators clearly oppose the direction Netflix is taking the show, and yet a majority of viewers are eager to find out why.
Some reports indicate the Netflix production team wanted to make the show more mature, featuring an older cast, and more sexual innuendos. The show's creators however, reportedly wanted the live-action to stay true to the animation, and leave Aang and his gang as pubescent teens.
Due to their decision to leave the project, combined with production complications caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, the show's release date has been pushed back. Creators initially projected a 2020 release date for the live-action series, but now, they believe 2021 is more likely.
Meantime, 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' is available to watch on Netflix, along with its sequel series 'The Legend of Korra'.