‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ live-action creators exit over ‘unsupportive environment’

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, are leaving the live-action series remake project allegedly because of an “unsupportive environment” at Netflix.

Despite developing the adaptation since 2018, DiMartino and Konietzko said in a statement that Netflix’s executives failed on their promise to support the creators’ vision. Creative differences reportedly contributed to their decision to walk away from the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action production.

“The general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment,” Konietzko wrote on Instagram. DiMartino, on the other hand, confirmed on his website that they left because they didn’t like the series’ creative direction.

Netflix’s adaptation will proceed

Variety reported that Netflix will still proceed with the live-action series adaptation despite DiMartino and Konietzko’s departure. Producer Dan Lin’s Ridgeback production and Nickelodeon remain with the project, and a spokesperson for Netflix expressed confidence in the rest of the creative team.

Details about Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action, however, is still up in the air. Jessie Flower, who was a voice actress on the animated version, told Wyrd Crafts Chitchat Podcast in late 2019 that production would begin in February 2020 in Canada. However, film and TV sets around the world shut down in March due to the pandemic, and Netflix has not made any casting announcements for the series.

Fans have been eager to know who will be in the live-adaptation. DiMartino and Konietzko promised the show’s avid followers early in the development that the cast will be “diverse, culturally appropriate and non-whitewashed” just like the animation.

Avatar and Korra animations to stream on Netflix

The creators aren’t completely shunning the Airbender’s universe because of this disagreement. DiMartino said that they are happy about the resurgence of the show’s popularity after Netflix dropped old episodes of the animated series in June. The streaming platform will also debut Legend of Korra, the sequel animated series, on Friday, Aug. 14.

Avatar: The Last Airbender originally aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. The show takes place in a fantasy world where a team of “benders” fight against aggressive regimes. These benders can manipulate air, water, fire, and earth. The show is heavy on Asian and Inuit references.

M. Night Shyamalan adapted the story as a live-action big-screen production under Paramount in 2010. Fans of the animation, however, panned the movie, and it was a box office flop.

News of DiMartino and Konietzko’s exit dismayed fans who worry that Netflix will destroy Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series. DiMartino, however, cautioned their followers.

“Who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good,” DiMartino said. “It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying.”


Image used courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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