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Avatar: The Last Airbender creators return for live-action Netflix remake

This will be the second time the show gets the live-action treatment

Aang from the live-action Avatar movie
Not like this, we hope.
Nickelodeon Movies/Paramount Pictures

A live-action series based on Nickelodeon’s beloved cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender is in development at Netflix, the streaming service announced.

The show will be “reimagined,” according to Netflix. Original creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are signed on to executive produce and run the series, with production to start in 2019. Attached to a tweet from preview account See What’s Next is a single piece of concept art by artist John Staub; it features the giant sky bison Appa with a tiny human we can only assume is Aang, our airbending hero.

A version of that art first appeared on creator Bryan Konietzko’s blog in July. He referred to it then as “a very old concept from Avatar, one of the earliest drawings I did for the project.” It’s interesting that this appears to be a reimagined take on that piece itself — a testament to this project at least trying to honor its roots.

A drawing of Aang and Appa from Avatar.
Konietzko’s drawing.
Bryan Konietzko via Tumblr

The new series falls in line with other remake plans from Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon and MTV. The late-night action cartoon Aeon Flux, which aired on MTV in the mid-’90s, is getting a live-action reboot as well, while Daria will return with a new take on the animated classic.

Fans have a good reason to be skeptical about the words “live-action” and “Avatar” placed together. Nickelodeon released a film by director M. Night Shyamalan in theaters in 2010. The live-action adaptation was ... not good. Here’s hoping for something better, although it sure sounds like the team is aware of the film’s biggest problems, based on this quote from Konietzko and DiMartino in Netflix’s announcement:

We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building.

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