Yesterday, it was announced that Dev Patel, star of the hit Oscar-probable movie Slumdog Millionaire will be joining the cast of M.Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. Just to clarify, the word “Avatar” was removed from the title to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s Avatar due out this December.

The good news is that Patel will be replacing singer Jesse McCartney to play the part of Prince Zuko, exile of the fire nation. As it turns out, young Mr. McCartney had scheduling issues that conflicted with shooting which is planned to begin in March. This I am sure, is a big relief to the many Airbender fans out there who made their outrage known about many of the initial casting decisions.

Jackson Rathbone, of Twilight fame, also had some scheduling issues with the shooting of New Moon but was able to work it out and he will be starring in both projects. Rathbone (who will play Sokka) and Patel will be joining Nicola Peltz (Katara) and newcomer martial artists Noah Ringer who will be playing the lead character, Aang.

This is a very good change in my opinion and it’s nice to see some non-Caucasian actors score a leading role in the project that’s been ripe with controversy with allegations of racist casting decisions for a story that is based on Asian culture.

Patel gave a solid performance in Slumdog Millionaire and I think he will play the part perfectly and look the part once in costume and with some hair modifications of course. Of all the characters, Zuko requires the most emotional range and acting skill to come off as the loved and hated character. I really hope this movie is done right and spawns a worthy trilogy – M.Night needs it and the fans deserve it.

What do you think of the updated cast for The Last Airbender?

The Last Airbender is due out in theaters July 2, 2010.

Source: Variety