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  • Writer's pictureMORGAN DUQUETTE

Chronicle Article: “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Netflix Adaptation

Graphic by Morgan Duquette

February 22 marks a day to remember, the live-action Netflix adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (ATLA) television series was released. The series follows all the characters we know and love. Staring in all eight episodes includes the beloved Aang, played by Gordon Cormier, Katara, played by Kiawentiio, Ian Ousley as Sokka, Zuko portrayed by Dallas Liu, and the wise tea-loving Uncle Iroh, played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee. The series dominated Netflix in its first few weeks. 

The first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action begins with a cold opening: an earthbender getting chased by fire nation guards through the streets of Capitol City. This is when viewers get their first taste of how the bending will look throughout the rest of the series.

Without skipping a beat, we meet our protagonist, Aang. In my not-so-humble, unqualified opinion, things get a bit rocky for me. Aang starts flying? Creating cyclones? Regardless, this elite bending move is known to viewers in season three of “The Legend of Korra” (TLOK). In the original show, Airbenders could not fly without their gliders. If anyone has watched TLOK, you know about this. 

With a comet on its way, all of the Air Nomads come together to celebrate the Great Comet Festival at the Southern Air Temple - making it the perfect opportunity for the Fire Nation to commit mass genocide against Aang’s entire culture. 

In contrast to the original show, Aang does not overhear the council deciding to send him away. But similar to the original, Aang gets overwhelmed by the thought of being the Avatar. That said, he cannot sleep that night, so he takes a well-timed ride on Appa. As he is flying above the sea, the water gets more and more aggressive, eventually pulling him and Appa down. Resulting in Aang going into the Avatar State to save himself, just like the story we all know and love.

While this is happening, the Fire Nation Army is quietly sneaking into the Southern Air Temple. We then get front-row seats as the Fire Nation army burns down the temple, setting everyone inside ablaze. On that slightly terrifying note, the prologue quickly ends. 

This adaption is clearly a step up from the 2010 “The Last Airbender” film from M. Night Shyamalan. Unfortunately, the series is missing a lot of key pieces, such as Katara having any real emotion and Sokka’s initial sexism towards women. As I watched each episode, I couldn’t help but find myself scowling at the television. There were many times throughout each episode that I didn’t enjoy the acting, it felt as though the actors weren’t truly in it.  Luckily, the show is visually incredible. From the bending to the streets of Omahsu, I was truly engulfed in the scenery.

Exactly two weeks after the initial release, on March 6, Netflix announced it has been renewed for seasons two and three. This news is so exciting for ATLA fans around the world. If you are a fan of the Avatar series, I highly recommend checking this series out. Even if you’re not a fan, I recommend watching the Nickelodeon animated show as soon as humanly possible. With all this being said, I will be tuning in for the next two seasons and I hope you do too. 


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