COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Long ago, the four nations lived in harmony… but everything changed when Netflix dropped the first look at their forthcoming live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, which is now available on the streamer.
Almost 20 years after the original animated show’s release, the popular anime is getting a live-action retelling, complete with a culturally appropriate cast. Since this isn’t the first time ATLA has gotten a live-action adaptation — remember the whitewashed 2010 M. Night Shyamalan flop? — fans are more than skeptical about their favorite childhood show being remade once more.
But if our first look at Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Zuko tells us anything, it’s that the long-awaited remake of the Nickelodeon series might actually live up to the expectations. Complete with impressive costuming, detailed cast builds, and CGI that actually looks like it belongs, the new ATLA is shaping up to potentially have the same success as Netflix’s live-action One Piece.
If you didn’t obsess over ATLA in middle school, the new live-action series is your chance to follow the tale of a group of friends training the last airbender to embrace his destiny as the Avatar, master of all four elements, while protecting their world from the invasive Fire Nation. With powerful lessons on friendship, morality, and the necessity of forgiveness, it’s no wonder ATLA has remained so beloved after all these years.
Below, we break down everything we know about Netflix’s live-action remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender, including cast, release date, trailer, first-look photos, and more. Keep reading or jump to your preferred section with the arrows below:
→ Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action trailers
→ Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action release date
→ Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action plot
→ Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action cast
→ Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action photos
Is there a trailer for the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender?
There is, indeed! And not one, but three. Ahead of the series' release date, Netflix unveiled the final trailer for its live-action adaption of Avatar: The Last Airbender on February 20, 2024. The final trailer for the show is short and sweet but perhaps the most cinematic. It shows us Aang's mastering his powers, with flashes of everything else in between. (Reminder: the actual show is now on Netflix, so if the final trailer has put you in the right mood, there's no need to wait anymore.)
Netflix had also unveiled an official full-length trailer for its live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender on January 23, 2023. This trailer served as a proper introduction to Aang, the young Avatar, played by Gordon Cormier.
“The Fire Nation is embarked on a dark path, and the world might never recover. The world needs the Avatar. It needs you, Aang,” Monk Gyatso's voice can be heard saying before we get a glimpse of the Fire Nation's attack on the Air Nomads as well as Sokka and Katara's discovery of the Avatar hidden in a giant iceberg. The next scenes in the trailer introduce us to various action scenes and characters from the iconic series, and shows a teary-eyed Aang confronting his destiny. “I'm not someone who can stop the Fire Nation,” he says. “I don't want the responsibility.”
Previously, on November 9, 2023, Netflix had released a short teaser where we got our first look at all our fave characters, including Appa and Momo, who are also seen in the main trailer.
When will the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender be released on Netflix?
Mark your cals! Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender drops on February 22, 2024 — a nod to the original show’s premiere date on February 21, 2005. Variety confirms that the first season of the series will have 8 episodes in total.
What will the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender be about?
The official plot of the series sounds exactly like the animated show you know and love. The synopsis, per Netflix, reads as follows: “Water. Earth. Fire. Air. The four nations once lived in harmony, with the Avatar, master of all four elements, keeping peace between them. But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked and wiped out the Air Nomads, the first step taken by the firebenders towards conquering the world. With the current incarnation of the Avatar yet to emerge, the world has lost hope. But like a light in the darkness, hope springs forth when Aang, a young Air Nomad — and the last of his kind — reawakens to take his rightful place as the next Avatar. Alongside his newfound friends Sokka and Katara, siblings and members of the Southern Water Tribe, Aang embarks on a fantastical, action-packed quest to save the world and fight back against the fearsome onslaught of Fire Lord Ozai. But with a driven Crown Prince Zuko determined to capture them, it won’t be an easy task. They’ll need the help of the many allies and colorful characters they meet along the way.”
How will the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender differ from the original?
The first and foremost main difference is that the original Nickelodeon show’s creators are not a part of the Netflix adaptation. Although Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko were originally on board the production, they left in 2020 due to creative differences with the studio.
“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago, they made a very public promise to support our vision," Konietzko wrote in his announcement post on Instagram. "Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise... [T]he general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino wrote in his own announcement blog post, “So, I chose to leave the project.” In response, Netflix released their own statement about the production's resumption: "We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series. Although they have chosen to depart the live action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”
Aside from this, we don’t have many other details on how much the live-action will detour from the animated original — we hope not much, but based on the live-action One Piece series we can assume there will be some minor differences.
Who is in the cast of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender?
The real question is: Who isn’t in the live-action adaptation of ATLA? The massive cast has dozens of stellar main and recurring characters, but the production is led by 14-year-old Gordon Comier as Aang, the Avatar who can control all four elements. He was cast when he was 11 years old and already boasts several impressive Hollywood credits, including a role in Stephen King’s The Stand.
Aang’s two best friends, Sokka and Katara, will be played by Ian Ousley and Kiawentiio, respectively. You might recognize 22-year-old Ousley from his role in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why or Disney+’s Big Shot; meanwhile, 17-year-old Mohawk actor Kiawentiio has appeared in Netflix’s Anne With an E and Marvel’s What If…?. The beloved anti-hero Fire Nation Crown Prince Zuko will be played by 22-year-old Dallas Liu, who you’ve spotted before in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Mortal Combat: Legacy, and PEN15.
21-year-old Elizabeth Yu, known for her role in Somewhere in Queens, will play Zuko’s fiery sister Azula. Prey star Amber Midthunder is Princess Yue, the princess of the Northern Water Tribe and Sokka's love interest; newcomer Maria Zhang plays Suki, leader of the all-female Kyoshi Warriors; Kung Fu star Yvonne Chapman plays Avatar Kyoshi and former Dexter star C.S. Lee portrays Avatar Roku; Pitch Perfect and Never Have I Ever actor Utkarsh Ambudkar is King Bumi, Aang's oldest friend; Lim Kay Siu will play Monk Gyatso; former Teen Wolf star Arden Cho is June, a bounty hunter; and The Baby-Sitters Club star Momona Tamada and Raya and the Last Dragon actor Thalia Tran have joined the cast as Princess Azula's friends Ty Lee and Mai, respectively.
Additionally, Netflix cast veteran actors Daniel Dae Kim as the iconic Firelord Ozai and George Takei as Koh the Face Stealer. (Fun fact: Kim voiced two characters in the Avatar world prior, lending his voice to ATLA's General Fong and Hiroshi Sato in its spinoff show The Legend of Korra, and Takei voiced the warden in episode 6 of Book 1 of the original series.)
Paul Sun-Hyuang Lee, best known for Kim’s Convenience and various Star Wars franchise appearances, has been cast as the fan-favorite, tea-loving Uncle Iroh, and Ken Leung, who most recently starred in Missing with Storm Reid and Nia Long, will play the ruthless Commander Zhao.
Bonus: Remember the cabbage merchant who was always getting his cart of leafy greens destroyed in the animated show? Netflix hired the same voice actor, James Sie, to make a recurring appearance in the live-action series. Here’s hoping more subtle cameos will be spotted when the TV show drops in early 2024.
Are there any photos of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender yet?
Before 2023 came to an end, Netflix gave us our holiday presents early by releasing brand-new stills from the set, including shots of the beloved sky bison Appa ascending into the clouds with his crew secured onto his back, the impressive power wielded by Fire Lord Ozai, and a few glimpses at the use of elemental power.
The photos also gave us a sneak peak at the show’s costuming, which appears to be quite detailed with nods to both the original anime and the indigenous Asian communities the show takes inspiration from. There were also a couple of close-up shots of Aang, highlighting the iconic bright blue arrow marking on his head.
To accompany the official trailer on January 23, 2024, the streamer released a second round of exclusive first-look photos and production stills from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Most of the new photos correspond to key moments of the trailer — including young Ozai, June, and our main trio — but also give us a peek into other characters like Gran Gran, The Mechanist, and Jet. Keep scrolling to see them all below:
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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