Live-Action Avatar Will Adopt the Serial “Netflix Format”

The live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series on Netflix will bend itself to more modern serialized storytelling.

Appa in Avatar: The Last Airbender
Photo: Nickelodeon

The live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series is alive and well… but it might not be exactly the same as the original. For those who need to be caught-up, Netflix’s long gestating live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender remake is finally gearing up with not only a full creative team in place but a cast as well! This comes exactly a year after the original creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino left the new series, with Konietzko stating that “the general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”

Whatever happened behind the scenes, a new creative team is forging ahead and we got a small insight into what’ll make this show different from the original series. Albert Kim, showrunner, executive producer, and writer of the live-action series, spoke about staying true to core story of the original but adapting it to the Netflix format. Specifically he said,

“Netflix’s format meant we had an opportunity to reimagine a story that had originally been told in self-contained half-hour episodes as an ongoing serialized narrative. That meant story points and emotional arcs we’d loved in the original could be given even more room to breathe and grow.”

As much as ATLA is famous for its serialized storytelling in a kid’s series, the first season especially did feature mostly stand-alone episodes. It’s only later seasons that retroactively made those stand alone stories important to the larger narrative (except the infamous ‘Great Divide’ episode, of course.) What a serialized take on the show could mean is that big events can more easily spill over into other episodes, allowing more emotional depth than even the original series had.

The other thing that’s intriguing is the mention of certain “story points” getting more room to breathe and grow. Could this be more expanding on the world of ATLA? Or does this mean we might get longer versions of certain stories that were forced into half-hour chunks? Seeing more of the old Air Temple, more time spent with the Northern Water Tribe, or perhaps more exploration of Zuko!

There’s so much possibility to flesh out the world and characters of ATLA while still remaining true to the original source material. Even if some details get changed, as long as the core of ATLA is intact that’s what matters. What would be the point of making a carbon copy of the original but in live-action? It’ll be fascinating to see where Netflix and the new creative team takes the show.

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