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Julius

The Avatar Thread (The Last Airbender / Legend of Korra)

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So, I thought about making a dedicated thread for the Avatarverse (not my name of choice for it, but whatever, it's stuck with the press apparently!) last summer after rewatching The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, but I didn't think there was enough to drive an ongoing discussion in a dedicated thread, besides more people potentially getting into the show through Netflix, which it owes a lot of its resurgence to. 

However, after Bryan and Mike left the Netflix TLA project, I had a suspicion that it wouldn't end there. So, while Netflix is off reportedly casting a 12 year-old Aang and a 16 year-old Katara - who will be a big sister to Sokka, completely killing his character arc, and probably trying to force Zatara on us all - Nickelodeon has finally decided to acknowledge the golden egg they've been sitting on for years.

From Deadline:

Quote

The Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise is set to get even bigger.

Nickelodeon is launching Avatar Studios, a division designed to create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the franchise’s world.

The original creators and executive producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will run the studio as co-chief creative officers, reporting to Ramsey Naito, President, Nickelodeon Animation.

Avatar Studios will produce content for platforms including Paramount+ and Nickelodeon as well as third-party platforms and theatrical releases.

The first project is an animated theatrical film that is set to start production later this year.

Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, which follows the adventures of the main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation, aired for three seasons between 2005 and 2008.

It was followed by The Legend of Korra, which launched on Nickelodeon in 2012 and ran for four seasons.

The property has subsequently been translated into a ongoing graphic novel series written by TV series co-creator DiMartino, a live-action feature film starring Dev Patel and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and Netflix is making a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, albeit without the involvement of Dante DiMartino and Konietzko. 

“Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least ten-fold in popularity since their original hit runs on Nickelodeon, and Ramsey Naito and I are incredibly excited to have Mike and Bryan’s genius talent on board to helm a studio devoted to expanding their characters and world into new content and formats for fans everywhere,” said Brian Robbins, President, ViacomCBS Kids & Family.

“Creator-driven stories and characters have long been the hallmarks of Nickelodeon, and Avatar Studios is a way to give Mike and Bryan the resources and runway to open up their imaginations even more and dive deeper into the action and mythology of Avatar as we simultaneously expand upon that world and the world of content available on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon,” he added.

And confirmation from Paramount what to expect: new series, short-term content, spin-offs, and theatrical films. Oh, and the Avatar Studios logo, which looks great! 

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Well, I think it's safe to say that that might be able to drive and sustain some discussion beyond returning to The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra, and expanded lore. 

I genuinely never thought this would happen, just considering how they completely kicked Legend of Korra to the curb. You know, when they ordered one season, then ordered way more, then brushed it under the rug and moved brand new episodes over to the Nickelodeon website? And now they're back! 

What do you hope to see come of this? What's your experience with the series to this point? And do you think the cabbage merchant will make his return? 

Personally, I'd love to see adaptations of the graphic novels, as they seem like a natural and relatively straightforward place to start. 

Edited by Julius
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This is awesome. I was looking forward to the Netflix live adaptation before the creators left, now I have something to look forward to again. 
 

I love both ATLA and LOK and this is great news to see we are going to get some expanded universe stuff. Can’t wait. 
 

Oh and if Cabbage Man is not in it then they’ve ruined it before it’s started. Even better would be a Cabbage Man spin off. 

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I think the whole Zutara thing has been blown out of proportion.

One person on Reddit for whipped up into a froth about it, and now everyone is taking it as read that's the reason for the age change.

For a start, I don't think the age change is confirmed officially? Even if it is, it could just be that they found a good actress who is older than the actor they found for Sokka.

Whatever happens, unless the live action series is a shot for shot remake, most people are going to be unhappy with it. I think it's good they are doing to make some new content, and not rehash the old stuff.

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This is... some unexpected and excellent news! And it's not Avaterverse stuff I'm looking forward to, it's the idea that the Avatar name has enough clout these days that a studio dedicated to making great 2D animation can exist and potentially flourish! I'm actually excited to see what kind of projects they'll produce, because a film is a great start.

18 hours ago, Julius said:

Personally, I'd love to see adaptations of the graphic novels, as they seem like a natural and relatively straightforward place to start. 

I'd rather see original stuff from them. First, because what works in a graphic novel doesn't always work in animation (surely they have a higher word count per minute than any Avatar episode, for example).

Second, because that's retreading stories already told. So if they do comic adaptations like that, I hope they stick to animated shorts. For example, I recall hearing that one of the comics features Toph and Bumi having a friendly earthbending match. That's the sort of stuff that would fit a short perfectly, without needing to adapt the whole book.

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11 hours ago, BowserBasher said:

Oh and if Cabbage Man is not in it then they’ve ruined it before it’s started. Even better would be a Cabbage Man spin off. 

Hell yes :laughing: let's see him go off the deep end and slowly lose his sanity :p

9 hours ago, bob said:

For a start, I don't think the age change is confirmed officially? Even if it is, it could just be that they found a good actress who is older than the actor they found for Sokka.

Whatever happens, unless the live action series is a shot for shot remake, most people are going to be unhappy with it. I think it's good they are doing to make some new content, and not rehash the old stuff.

I did say reportedly :p and sure, it totally could be the case that they found an older actress than they found for Sokka. But when I look at the rest of Netflix's insanely big catalogue of shows, there is a whole lot of romantic triangle/drama stuff, so I don't think it's so crazy that they would lean harder into the Zutara angle (I mean, it's one way to make things different, that's for sure). 

As for remaking it, I suppose you could argue that, in itself, could be the issue with something like this: the original is almost universally beloved by its fans, is critically acclaimed, and has gained a massive following over the last few years in particular with very high expectations as a result of the original show's quality. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but I feel like it would have been more interesting if they focused on expanding the world, rather than retelling the story in a way which the original creators clearly won't interested in them following through on.

I look at it almost like a Final Fantasy VII Remake situation...except, even if you didn't like that game and loved the original, it was doing a whole lot more than simply retelling and expanding on the original story. It's definitely a difficult and fine line to walk. 

I've always been somewhat wary of live-action remakes of animated content, simply because, unless it was down to budget constraints, there's a reason it was told in that medium. In Avatar's case, bending the elements is something they went with because not only was it a great way to express characters and their heritage, but the show had to be made in a way where fights could take place without blood being spilt and sharp weapons flying around, due to it airing on Nickelodeon. Some level of restraint is often a great thing when it comes to creativity, and I feel like they utilised the medium incredibly well. 

Hey, I hope the first attempt at adapting that story to live-action goes well, but if it doesn't - like with most remakes, I guess - there's still the original to fall back on. 

And yes it is the first attempt. I don't know what you're talking about. 

3 hours ago, Jonnas said:

This is... some unexpected and excellent news! And it's not Avaterverse stuff I'm looking forward to, it's the idea that the Avatar name has enough clout these days that a studio dedicated to making great 2D animation can exist and potentially flourish! I'm actually excited to see what kind of projects they'll produce, because a film is a great start.

I'd rather see original stuff from them. First, because what works in a graphic novel doesn't always work in animation (surely they have a higher word count per minute than any Avatar episode, for example).

Second, because that's retreading stories already told. So if they do comic adaptations like that, I hope they stick to animated shorts. For example, I recall hearing that one of the comics features Toph and Bumi having a friendly earthbending match. That's the sort of stuff that would fit a short perfectly, without needing to adapt the whole book.

Totally agree. There's been some terrific 2D animation in the West over the last decade or so (immediately springing to my mind is Adventure Time and Over The Garden Wall), but simply not enough, and it's been tough seeing fewer and fewer 2D animated films from Western studios. You look at how anime has grown in popularity over the last few years, and how the Demon Slayer movie has destroyed much of the southeast Asian box office over the course of the last few months, and it's clear that there's an audience for quality storytelling in 2D animation. Thank goodness too! 

About the original stuff, don't get me wrong, I hope we see lots of original stuff too! It's just a lot easier to speculate about what we already have I guess :laughing: plus, I do think - unless they already have something in mind and fully planned out, which in fairness is totally possible - it would likely have the fastest turnaround time. 

I was thinking of The Search trilogy in particular, and was thinking less of a dedicated series (though I guess a miniseries could work?) and more about a film adaptation of that story. It's one of the only graphic novel sets I've checked out from them (though this news certainly makes me want to go back and get to the others!), and it follows the thread left at the end of the main show regarding Zuko and his mother.

I think it would make sense to adapt it for a number of reasons, the main one being because it serves as something of a continuation to the Last Airbender story, so you know the demand would be there from fans for it, and it would have an established audience. Also, originally it was actually pitched as a television movie, but Nickelodeon rejected it, which means that even if there might be some fat to trim from the print version, they likely have plans around still for that original television movie version. 

I know the Kyoshi graphic novels have been received really positively too, but I haven't read them yet, so can't comment on how well they might translate, but many - if not all, maybe? I'd have to fact check that - of the graphic novels had Michael and/or Bryan work on them. 

As for retreading stories already told, while you could consider it from that perspective, I think it's always worth considering the potential hurdles in other countries to get access to these graphic novels, and adapting these stories would get a lot of fresh eyes on the story. I don't think any ATLA fan who has already read a particular graphic novel would be against it (speaking from my experience with some of the Star Wars canon novels, graphic novels, and fully rigged episodes which haven't been adapted for The Clone Wars, I can tell you that most would probably be ecstatic about it), so long as that's not all they end up with, and by all means, it looks like there's - thankfully - plenty in the works! 

As for Toph vs Bumi, if I'm remembering right, that was from a comic and set in the third Book of ATLA, so I don't think it's a great example of what I mean, though I do agree that would be better off as a short if it was going to end up being adapted. I'm fairly sure that probably ended up in last year's anthology The Lost Adventures, where they collected a lot of those comics in one place, so yeah, definitely not suited to be it's own standalone story like some of the longer stories might be. 

Yeah, I feel like I've pretty much talked myself into catching up on the graphic novels and comic stuff now, though I'll try to save it until I'm caught up Attack on Titan S4 and ge:Dt up-to-date with My Hero's manga! 

Edited by Julius
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I also think that a lot of fans have elevated Mike and Bryan to an almost god status, and think that if they're involved, it's going to be as good as ATLA.

I'm not saying it won't be, but do we have any evidence that they still know what they're doing? TLOK was good, but wavered towards the end (giant robot fight, I'm looking at you).

The fact that they keep exiting projects could point to something being wrong with them, rather than assuming that they're infallible, and it's always someone else's fault.

I have no idea, I'm just trying to see both sides of the story.

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4 minutes ago, bob said:

I also think that a lot of fans have elevated Mike and Bryan to an almost god status, and think that if they're involved, it's going to be as good as ATLA.

I'm not saying it won't be, but do we have any evidence that they still know what they're doing? TLOK was good, but wavered towards the end (giant robot fight, I'm looking at you).

The fact that they keep exiting projects could point to something being wrong with them, rather than assuming that they're infallible, and it's always someone else's fault.

I have no idea, I'm just trying to see both sides of the story.

I don't think anyone's assuming they're infallible, but from the little I've experienced of the graphic novels, I do think it's great to have them on board. What I would say about them leaving the Netflix project due to creative differences is the fact that they chose to leave, rather than being forced out and "creative differences" being the nebulous reason Netflix points to (like we've seen with plenty of potential Star Wars directors since Disney's takeover), gives me a confidence that they understand just how important TLA is to so many people, and aren't comfortable sticking around on a project they're not all-in on. The Netflix project could still turn out great, but the potential of what they could do on Paramount+ is much more exciting to me. 

I view it the same way I view the Star Wars sequels: should George Lucas have been the only storyteller, and the final decision maker on every story decision? No. But I do think his vision - and an overarching narrative - could have helped it immensely. 

While I agree that The Legend of Korra isn't as strong as The Last Airbender, it's worth pointing out that it's so disjointed almost entirely because of Nickelodeon's production decisions, rather than the storytelling skills of Mike and Bryan. With The Last Airbender they had the overarching narrative and character arcs planned out, whereas the end point of The Legend of Korra kept getting pushed back as Nickelodeon ordered more and more from them (it was supposed to be a 12 episode miniseries, then got expanded to 26 episodes, and then later 52) while production was going on, and like I said before, in the latter stages the show got shifted over to the Nickelodeon website from the channel, so clearly they weren't given the backing and support that I think the quality of TLA would justify. Heck, they ran up against obstacles from the start on that show, because Nickelodeon didn't want a female lead. 

I think the escalation of climaxes of each season for these potential end points (Air, Spirits, and Balance) - and each season feeling so separated from the ones around them - shows that they ended up a little hamstrung creatively as a result. Don't get me wrong, there were absolutely some weird decisions made along the way - such as with the example you have - but them having more control, support, and creative freedom, and being able to actually plan something from beginning to end, is a good thing in my eyes. 

I do appreciate you coming from the other side of it though, because I think it makes for decent discussion, and I think having some reasonable level of doubt is justified. Will Nickelodeon continue to give them the support and freedom here that they're stating they will, or will they get that for one project (the film) before potentially going back on it? I suppose the proof will be in the pudding when a few things from this have been aired, and we're either hooked or somewhat indifferent. 

I'm very excited, but I am cautious, and I think there is a lot of pressure on whatever story they choose to tell first.

I'd love to see more stories about the earlier Avatars - for instance, the second Avatar meeting Wan's Avatar Spirit must have been one weird ride, and Kyoshi just seems a natural pick for her own show at some point - but there's also a lot of space to fill between TLA and TLOK (potential graphic novel adaptations, but also original stuff, like the adventures of adult Aang which we got teases of in TLOK), and of course they could always continue Korra's story or move onto the next Avatar. Heck, one of my favourite parts of TLA is the political intrigue and history of the Fire Nation, so they could totally go back a few hundred years and set up different "Houses"/Families and I would be all about it. 

Fingers crossed things go smoothly! 

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4 hours ago, Rummy said:

My girlfriend turned into the moon.

That's rough, buddy :(

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