Water; earth; fire; air; these four elements are fundamental in one of the most popular animated series produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studios. It is indeed Avatar: The Last Airbender released on February 21st, 2005 and ended on July 19th, 2008. The cartoon created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will now have a live-action adaptation series by Netflix. There is no official release date yet, still the cast that has been announced looks very similar to the cartoon characters.
The story of Avatar: The Last Airbender, divides a nation in four different groups, the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation and the Air Nomads. Each group or nation is represented by one of these natural elements (for which the nation is named). Benders can control the element from their nation. Only the Avatar can master all four elements. The cartoon focuses on how the Fire Nation wants to rule the world, but the only bender who can stop them is the Avatar, but has disappeared until two children (Sokka and Katara) find Aang the lost Avatar who is also the last airbender. With Katara and Sokka, Aang embraces a journey to learn the other three elements (water, earth and fire) in order to defeat the Fire Nation. During this journey he meets more characters who will be fundamental in the story.
The cartoon is based in an Asiatic-inspired world where people can manipulate natural elements (water, fire, air and earth) through practices that are called in the cartoon “bending” which are inspired by Chinese martial arts. The only character who can master all four elements is the Avatar, who is responsible for maintaining the world in harmony between the four nations.
Avatar: The Last Airbender or Avatar: The Legend of Aang was praised by the critics since the cartoon received successful ratings, also the animated series won many awards including a Primetime Emmy Award, five Annie Awards and a Kid’s Choice Award. The show is considered by the critics as one of the best animated TV shows of all time.
The filming of the new live-action adaptation ended in June, 2022, still Netflix has only announced the cast, also there is no official trailer yet. Gordon Comier will play Aang, a twelve-year-old kid who will be responsible for learning the rest of the elements and save the world against the Fire Nation. The cast is formed by, Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio Tarbell as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, Dallas James Liu as Zuko, Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Uncle Iroh, Ken Leung as Admiral Zhao, Lim Kay Siu as Gyatso, Maria Zhang as Suki, Elizabeth Yu as Azula, Yvonne Chapman as Avatar Kyoshi, Casey Camp-Horinek as Gran Gran, Arden Cho as June, George Takei as Koh, Momona Tamada as Ty Lee, Thalia Tran as Mai, Utkarsh Ambudkar as King Bumi, Amber Midthunder as Princess Yue, Danny Pudi as The Mechanist, James Sie as the cabbage merchant. From this cast, Netflix recently added Amber Midthunder and George Takei.
There have been other adaptations of this TV show, such as video games, films and a sequel series known as The Legend of Korra which premiered on Nickelodeon on April 14th, 2012, with the same creators and producers of the first series. The events of this TV show occur seventy years after the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The plot involves Korra who is a seventeen-year-old girl from the Southern Water Tribe who becomes the new Avatar after Aang’s death.
The film premiered in 2010, based on the series’ first season. The initial idea was to make a movie per season, yet the movie’s critics are far from good and it was described as one of the worst films ever made.