Almost two years ago, we reported that Avatar: The Last Airbender was being adapted into a live-action series for Netflix with original creator Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko on board as the showrunners and executive producers. This was great news after M. Night Shyamalan’s bungled live-action movie to give the adventures of Aang, The Last Airbender, and his friends the new take they deserved. For those who have never watched the Nickelodeon animated series (which is currently streaming on Netflix), it’s about the heroic Aang, a young “airbender” (from a clan that can bend the air to their will), who must learn to master the other elements—water, earth, and fire—in order to save the world. The involvement of DiMartino and Konietzko promised that fans would get the best version of this new live-action adaptation.
Sadly, that promise has been broken. On his official website, DiMartino wrote that he and Konietzko are off the project due to creative differences. Explaining why he and Konietzko left the series this past June, DiMartino wrote:
I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn’t. I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.
And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.
A spokesperson for Netflix said, “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.”
DiMartino notes that this doesn’t mean the end of his involvement with Avatar or its sequel series The Legend of Korra, and those properties will likely live on in comics and other mediums. Nevertheless, it’s a huge bummer that DiMartino and Konietzko couldn’t make their vision a reality. Now fans will go from wondering if the Netflix series could be as good as the animated version to wondering if it will be less terrible than the 2010 movie.