Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Live Action Showrunner Addresses Departure Of Original Creators

Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender were overjoyed when it was announced that original animated show creators Bryan Konietzko (The Legend of Korra, The Last Airbender) and Michael Dante DiMartino (The Legend of Korra, The Last Airbender) would be involved in Netflix’s live-action adaptation. Everything changed, however, in 2020, when they decided to leave the project– something that showrunner Albert Kim (Nikita, Sleepy Hollow) has finally decided to address. 


Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Kim understands the colossal responsibility he is undertaking, especially considering that the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series is considered to be one of the best TV shows of all time with a fanbase to match. 

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“You’d have to be an idiot not to be intimidated a little bit,” Kim says. “My first reaction after ‘Hell yeah!’ was ‘Holy s—! Do I really want to do this? Is there a way to improve upon the original?’ Whenever you tackle something that’s already beloved by millions of fans, you have to ask yourself those questions.”

Fans might also be asking themselves, “Do I really want to do this?”, when it comes to watching the series, the happily oppressed memory of The Last Airbender (2010)— where DiMartino and Konietzko were also pushed out of the movie’s production– starting to surface. Kim’s answer to the series’s current direction does little to assuage their worries.

“We don’t start the show the way the animated series starts. That was a conscious decision to show people this is not the animated series,” Kim said. “We had to sometimes unravel storylines and remix them in a new way to make sense for a serialised drama. So I’m very curious to see what’ll happen in terms of reaction to that.”

The Last Airbender Katara

Netflix has had their go at multiple live-action adaptations of beloved franchises such as One Piece and The Witcher— the clear difference in their reception by fans parallel to the involvement of the original creators with Eiichiro Oda (the creator of One Piece) acting as almost a guard dog against Netflix when it came to the direction of the show which resulted in many fans applauding the adaptation

On the other hand, The Witcher franchise author Andrzej Sapkowski spoke about how Netflix ignored his feedback, the result clearly showing how fans have criticised the series. DiMartino echoed his sentiment towards the streaming giant in his open letter to fans regarding his departure for the live-action adaptation. 

“In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honouring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”

DiMartino conveys later in his letter that he sees the potential for the current live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender to be good, but it just would not be how he envisioned it. 

With Netflix’s track record, could Avatar: The Last Airbender be the series to succeed despite the departure of its original creators following the high of One Piece?