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Avatar: The Last Airbender creators depart Netflix live-action adaptation

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‘Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good’

Aang and Jet plummet through the air, in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Image: Nickelodeon

Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender faces its first major upheaval.

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of the original series, announced on Wednesday that they had left the project. DiMartino penned a blog post, while Konietzko took to Instagram to announce their decision. Neither of them was specific in their complaints, but both cited creative issues with Netflix.

“To be clear, this was not a simple matter of us not getting our way,” wrote Konietzko. “Mike and I are very collaborative people; we did not need all of these ideas to come from us. As long as we felt those ideas were in line with the spirit and integrity of Avatar, we would have happily embraced them. However, we ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series.”

DiMartino echoed similar sentiments on social media.

“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,” wrote DiMartino. “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.”

Netflix announced a live-action remake of the popular Nickelodeon series in 2018, with an emphasis on the original creators being heavily involved as executive producers and showrunners. Avatar: The Last Airbender got a live-action movie in 2010, but it was a critical and commercial flop that gained a notorious reputation for casting white actors as characters of color. The idea of a live-action adaptation with heavy creator involvement excited fans. Now that DiMartino and Konietzko have departed, however, it looks like the live-action Avatar may follow in the path of its M. Night Shyamalan-directed predecessor.

All seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender are currently streaming on Netflix.

Update: A Netflix spokesperson released a statement regarding the departure of DiMartino and Konietzko:

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.