Netflix revealed the first trailer for their live-action adaptation of the Nickelodeon original show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. The effects are top tier and have great set design which looks like they popped out of the animation cels. It appears Netflix wants to make a more youngster-friendly version of “Game of Thrones”, with all of the drama between the nations and the Fire Nation. This series could go toe to toe with the other epic streaming on Disney+, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”. Sadly, for a show that is sure to be a massive hit, “Avatar” is not without its fair share of controversy.
Before the show was even cast, the creators of the original animated series, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, left the series back in 2020 over creative differences between themselves and the streaming giant.
Once cast, the actors were also not safe from controversy as Ian Ousley, who is playing the role of Sokka, was allegedly found to have faked his Cherokee ethnicity. While these claims are allegations, they were enough to make many people weary as the original show was very progressive in its expression of Indigenous characters.
Rumors also spread about aging up the siblings Katara and Sokka to facilitate a romance between Katara and villain Prince Zuko, creating a love triangle between them and protagonist Aang which was not in the original show.
Finally, just recently, an interview came out with Ousley and Katara actor Kiawentiio about how they have toned down Sokka’s “sexism” which while it can be understandable, clashes with one of his most defining character moments in season one where he understands the plight of a group of female warriors and even forms a relationship with the leader. This could have been a great message to young men, but it devalues the point by making it seem like a nonissue that needed to disappear due to current sensibilities.
Overall, this series seems like while it will be a success with how many people see this as the next generation Harry Potter in some regard, many fans have been vehemently against it ever since the departure of the main creators. One of the main issues Is indigenous representation with the casting like the previous live-action adaptation. While Netflix is trying to do better, some believe that there could be more issues. Instead of perhaps having an open casting call, they had people be called individually which causes people with very distant ancestry to be cast rather than people who are really into the tribes and cultures that are portrayed and homaged in the series.
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” drops on Netflix Feb. 22.
Guillermo Guzman (he/him/they) is a Texas-based nerd who loves talking about video games, autism, and entertainment. Follow him on Instagram: @boofy_booferson and X: @Dimpy_Tenders.
Zipporah Pruitt, (she/her) is an L.A. homegrown journalist, who covers entertainment and culture. Follow her on X and Instagram: @zippzapps.
Edited by Nykeya Woods