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Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender has cleared at least one (low) bar

One sky bison that isn’t disgusting to look upon? Check

A toy of Aang and Appa from the 2010 Avatar: The Last Airbender film. Aang’s toy has faded colors, Appa has a disturbingly human face. Image via Reddit user Moreorlesser
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Avatar: The Last Airbender fans have every reason to be skeptical of Netflix’s new show. Even if they hadn’t been legendarily burned by a live-action production before, there’s the departure of the original series’ creators for their own sandbox of upcoming animated Avatar efforts.

But we can safely say that Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender from showrunner Albert Kim has cleared at least one bar. It’s a low bar, granted, but it’s a significant one.

Their Appa doesn’t look like a god damn sleep paralysis demon.

Appa, with his piercing eyes and weirdly human teeth, roars in the 2010 Avatar: The Last Airbender movie.
Image: Paramount PIctures

For years, my work has been one of the citations in the Wikipedia article “Appa (Avatar: The Last Airbender),” which contains every thing you’d need to know about Aang’s companion animal, the massive flying bison known as Appa. This isn’t a badge of honor necessarily, it’s just an inevitable result of writing a lot of words on the internet that they will wind up quoted on Wikipedia. But it does allow me to offer some explanation for how I’ve never been able to forget that in in M. Night Shyamalan’s Avatar: The Last Airbender Appa had a human face.

His nose thinned and elongated; his round, wet eyes shrunken to piercing pinpoints; his snout flattened until his mouth — full of weirdly human teeth! — was just a thin-lipped coin slot on the front of his head. To quote Reddit user Explosivebuttfarts, “They massacred my boy.”

Aang, Katara, and Sokka ride Appa through the sky in Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Image: Netflix

Live action Appa is never going to look as cute and soft and pillow-like as the animated one. But at least, Netflix’s Airbender has already proven, he doesn’t have to look absolutely cursed.

Live action Avatar: The Last Airbender is may never be as endearing, or maybe even as beautiful or as cool as the animated one. But at least, fans can hope, this new one won’t be absolutely cursed.

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