M. Night Shyamalan Talks The Last Airbender

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 17th, 2012 at 11:58 am,

prince zuko aang the last airbender movie posters M. Night Shyamalan Talks The Last Airbender

To tide us over until the first theatrical trailer for The Last Airbender gets released on February 12th (it was delayed from last Christmas) we have some info on the movie straight from director M. Night Shyamalan. The last we heard was that Shyamalan was, “pulling his hair out in the editing room,” although producer Frank Marshall said that all was well in post-production.

In an update, Hero Complex got a chance to talk to Shyamalan about The Last Airbender. They discussed such things as what got the director interested in the project, this being the first time he’s directed something based on existing source material and Shyamalan compared the movie to another two successful franchises.

Shyamalan spoke about how he got interested in the original anime cartoon series, Avatar: The Last Airbender (obviously the film is not going to use “Avatar” in the title because of a certain other recent successful film). Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly (depending on how you look at it), it was his seven-year-old daughter that got him hooked onto the Nickelodeon series:

“She made us watch as a family and all four of us were hooked… I was like, ‘This would make a killer movie. And my wife who really has been kind of in neutral about my career was insane about it. Insane about it: ‘You have to do it. This is it. This is the one.’ “

The Last Airbender marks not only the first time Shyamalan has directed something based off of existing source material, but also his first truly large-scale production. After the success of his debut feature The Sixth Sense eleven years ago (has it really been that long?), he was flooded with offers to direct entries in major franchises, such as the first Harry Potter. Evidently he turned all of them down. With the failures of recent offerings like The Happening and Lady In The Water, perhaps the director is looking for another avenue to show off the filmmaking skills his first few films demonstrated he has.

So why is Shyamalan taking on an adaptation this time? Well, it was the Eastern philosophies (particularly the Buddhist philosophy) fused with martial arts aspect of The Last Airbender that got him interested:

“Aang [the main character] himself needs to find balance to be the Avatar and to master each of these elements… We get to see the process of someone mastering themselves through the three seasons to get to peace.”

Finally, Shyamalan talked about how he sees similar elements (get it?) in two other successful properties, The Matrix and Star Wars:

“In the first ‘Matrix,’ you realize that what you’re seeing is all false… Those are really ancient ideas. Basic old, old religion. This has that as well. So if you go on the journey and you’ll feel that epiphany on top of a great roller-coaster ride. It’s going to be something.“

Despite not knowing a great deal about the original cartoon series, I still find myself highly-anticipating Shyamalan’s adaptation of it (it made Screen Rant‘s 2010 most anticipated list). My attention was particularly snagged when the first teaser trailer appeared online, squashing many of the doubts I had that Shyamalan couldn’t manage such a big special effects and action-driven film. We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out if he redeems himself from the disappointments of his last two offerings.

What do you think about Shyamalan’s take on The Last Airbender? Are you a fan of the cartoon and if so (or even if you’re not) are you looking forward to the big-screen live-action version?

The Last Airbender stars Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Jackson Rathbone and Cliff Curtis. It hits theaters on July 2nd, 2010.

Source: LA Times Hero Complex

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  1. Aang looks white to you. But he's not. Pretty much everything about him is based on the Tibetan monks. Come on, how many Caucasian kids do you know named *Aang*?

  2. I think people forget that the trio of main characters in the show were voiced by white actors, including Katara, who was voiced by the girl who played Ann “Her?” Veal from Arrested Development.

    I'll wait till I see the movie before I make any more judgments on the casting. As of now, Aang looks convincing in the teaser, but the girl playing Katara looks way young in her IMDB photo. Maybe that choice was to *spoiler* make it more convincing that she could hook up with a character.

    Was that a spoiler? Anyway, I'm not white, but if a white person can portray a character well, let them. I'd rather see a good movie focused on character development instead of one based on actors representing an anti-racism cause that the race-bending fans think they were meant to portray.

    But if you want to talk about racism, I'm Asian. Guess which kind. Hint: It isn't Chinese, or Japanese.

    • Ill be highly shocked if M Night pulls this off at all the trailers are yes fantastic but lets face it, he’ll have to put some crazy twist in it most likely which will from past experiences with his movies will suck. M Night has always found a way to make me leave one of his movies feeling like i wasted 2 hours of my life it kinda makes me wish I could get the spoiler like everyone did with M Night’s only descent movie The Sixth Sense. So after you watch it feel free to yell at the next crowd of people coming in “Bruce Willis is really a ghost” save em some money and a lot of pain.

  3. Has'nt had a big hit since the 6th Sense…..lets hope he doesn't mess this up…But the question is how could you?

  4. I have all 3 seasons and the animated Movie. Love this series and am highly anticipating this movie, I'll be there at the theaters come July.

  5. Why is the main character white???

    Shouldn't he be Asian?

    What the f**k this cat M. Night Shyamalan doesn't appear to want minorities in the main roles

    I mean he clearly had the opportunity to provide one Asian person the main role.


    Why?? did M. Night Shyamalan choose to use mainly white actros??

    M. Night Shyamalan clearly has the pull to choose his own actors, I don't understand

  6. Wow – what an intelligent answer. Did you learn that at spidey school?

  7. I loved the series, I cant believe the creators have gone this far – no arrow tatoo for Aang AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH.

    You should be ashamed

  8. Bash me into a coma and wake me up on the 2nd of july. Absolutly can not wait, have been in love with the animated series for years now.

  9. Why yes I did! How did you know?

  10. I too am very disturbed by the selection – However, I think the blame should be handed to the Casting director(Who has in all likelihood has never watched an episode of Avatar) and some to to the creators who should have known better(Or maybe this was the only way the movie was going to get made)

    They should all share the blame – I'm thinking of watching the movie one week after release as protest to the casting

  11. Maybe you should stick to spiderman movies and leave the animations to the real fans – loser

  12. I have been following Avatar for some time now and all I can say is “What the $%*& is happening with this movie?”

  13. I don't know any kids by the name of Aang but I can also say I don't know any asians by the name of Anng either.

    And at Kay3, Yes I am white, and I know that automatically makes me a racist, right?

  14. Dude, Zuko is an antihero not villain. Anyone who watches the show knows that.

    Also Shyamalan(for the hundredth time time) is Indian, not white. Meaning the chances of him being racist towards himself is very slim.

  15. I don't know any kids by the name of Aang but I can also say I don't know any asians by the name of Anng either.

    And at Kay3, Yes I am white, and I know that automatically makes me a racist, right?

  16. Dude, Zuko is an antihero not villain. Anyone who watches the show knows that.

    Also Shyamalan(for the hundredth time time) is Indian, not white. Meaning the chances of him being racist towards himself is very slim.

  17. The original material was great…I see no reason why M. Night could not have remain true to the series and take on the fact that everything about the designs and characters were based on Asian Cultures. OHhhhhh that’s right…he hasn’t had a box office hit since his gimmicky film making became too predictable…and he wants a sure thing. He’s gone HOLLYWOOD and is butchering s*** up like Hollywood on Dragon Ball Z and X-Men. On a side note…how the hell do you kill off Cyclops?

    And btw…M.Night is Indian, that’s why he casted another Indian. If he had the balls…he’d stick to the original material and refer to what the characters were originally based on.

    I just just hope, all the extra white Characters have an Asian accent…just to make to make it more absurd. It would have been even better though if all the characters were based on African folklore, then we’d have a real riot.

  18. The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael’s book, Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK. (myconnected.webs.com)

    Air = Yellow “race” = Males = Scholars.

    Water = Small Browns = Females = Shamans.

    Earth = Blacks = Lesbian = Social Ubuntu Business Class.

    Fire = Whites = Gays = Military, Militant Business Class.

    Ether or Metal = Big Browns = Bisexuals = Working Class, Bi-military
    (females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males).

    Therefore Aang should be Chinese.

    Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.

    The Earth Kingdom should be African.

    Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.

    The Fire Nation’s army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.

    And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.

    This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.

    But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?

    Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.

    But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:

    1) Clearly, when people don’t play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. “male” clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)

    2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).

    3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fit the role of Lucifer or Satan.

    4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.

    Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it’s called sunyata or “emptiness.”

    • im not familiar with “Rodney st.michael” but their is a native story talking about when we came to this world(this version of the matrix if you will) man was sent in four directions and told over time we would change color. we would be in charge of the elements and must learn the mystery in them all. yellow people were given air.(meditation?) white people fire.(machinery) black people water(blood plasma) and red people earth.(sustainability) you can find these perpetuated in tibal teachings not only of native americans but in african, celtic, buhdist, aboriginal etc.