With Netflix’s new Avatar: The Last Airbender adaptation getting closer and closer to it’s premiere date, it seems like the perfect time to dive into to some of the mistakes Netflix needs to avoid while reproducing this beloved series. While there is plenty to be said of M. Night Shyamalan's atrocious rendition of the series, one positive birthed from that awful waste of film is that it painted a pretty clear guide of what fans will not accept in an Avatar adaptation. So if you’re an avid Avatar hoping Netflix avoids the mistake of pronouncing Aang as “Ong” or completely disregarding the bond the Zuko and Aang spend three seasons developing, then here are some other mistakes you’ll probably hope Netflix avoids as well.
One of the things that upset fans the most about M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender was the fact that he decided all the pronunciations of character names had to be different than what had been established for years in the series. It’s seemingly such a little thing, but it can throw the entire movie off for fans of the original series. We saw similar backlash recently when the Venom trailer released with Riz Ahmed calling the symbiotes “Symb -eye- otes” rather. Hopefully, Netflix has learned enough from the mistakes of the previous film and will be willing to respect the source material enough to avoid another mishap.
6 Making The Bending Bend
There’s this really awful scene in M. Night Shyamalan’s Avatar movie where a group of earth benders, all acting together, execute a series of moves that were seemingly designed gingerly float a boulder over in the general direction of some fire benders nearby. If Netflix is really hoping to create a new Avatar: The Last Airbender series that will resonate with fans they’re going to need to bring out some bending that actually looks like bending. Hopefully, they can find an effects crew that can pull off the complicated task of matching the speed of the actors’ movements with the speed of the bending.
It’s a little strange that for a guy arguing that a soft “A” sound would be more accurate to the cultures that inspired the elemental nations of Avatar: The Last Airbender to have then cast an all-white cast for the three main characters. While the white-washing of inherently ethnic characters has been brought into the spotlight more and more, especially after the outcry following the casting of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost In A Shell, we’re still hoping that Netflix can avoid this classic pitfall that’s so simple to avoid and yet, sadly, is so often swan-dived right into. We’ll just have to wait until Netflix releases more information about the series to get a better idea of the vision the showrunners have.
4 Shoddy Effects
It’s hard to say what kind of budget Netflix’s new series will have or what kind of restraints that it will be working under, but one thing that is an absolute must for a series like this is a decent effects budget. The audience needs to feel the impact the various bending styles have on the world, and how powerful these abilities make the most talented benders. In the animated series when Sozen’s comet arrives, you can feel the devastating force of the fire coming from the benders on the airships.
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It seems like such a such a key aspect of the show that needs to be done right, but it can often go overlooked.
3 Not Expanding On The World
The number one thing that fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender have been clamoring for since it reached it’s conclusion back in 2008 is simply more information about the universe. What happens after the series? What was Aang like as a father? Any information, in any medium, is welcome.
So moving forward, Netflix needs to understand that fans aren’t asking for a live-action rehashing of the same old material we’ve already seen….multiple times… pantomiming bending moves with the blinds shut. What fans want is to see more of the universe we fell in love with over a decade ago. Teach us something new. Show us more of the history that led up to the Fire Nation’s attack. Anything to let fans know that things are going to be okay.
2 Zuko And Aang’s Bond
Whether it was due to pacing issue, trying to fit too much into one film, or simply a general lack of vision, M. Night Shyamalan’s film forget that one of the most important aspects of the original Avatar series, was the relationship it built between Aang and Zuko throughout the course of it’s run. While Aang, on the surface, may seem like strictly an enemy to Zuko, just as Iroh point out time and time again throughout the series, he is a challenge to grow and see the world differently.
Netflix needs to remember how important it is to properly illustrate how the Aang and Zuko are both challenging each other to become better, and it’s their relationship that really drives and ultimately concluded the story.
1 Unworthy Additions
(Ooooooo shots fired, Mako Fanpeople. He was a dumb character. Sorry.)
This point kind of goes with my earlier point about expanding on the world of Avatar, but now we’ll bring up knowing where to stop. There’s so much that fans of the original series are hoping to see from this new series. Maybe we’ll get some more information about Zuko’s mother this time around. Or maybe the series will take us into the future and show us what life was like after Aang defeated Ozai. There is, however, a very fine line between creating welcome additions to the mythos and adding a bunch of unnecessary clutter to the canon. While cute animals like the majestic Sky Bison, the mischievous flying lemur, and bears are always nice to see in the series, we don’t necessarily need the series populated by new and exciting animals as much as we need, say, more about Koh the Face Stealer.