Avatar: The Last Airbender’s great revival, but with Netflix twist

Many accuse the creators of the popular animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender of whitewashing by using non-Asian voice actors such as Zach Tyler Eisen.  Fans are hoping that the live action remake will stay true to the story and cast Asian actors.

Photo courtesy of Reddit

Many accuse the creators of the popular animated series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” of whitewashing by using non-Asian voice actors such as Zach Tyler Eisen. Fans are hoping that the live action remake will stay true to the story and cast Asian actors.

As Netflix creates a movie out of the rebooted animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, critics have heard rumors of the appearance of several characters being whiter than the original characters from the animated show. The adventurous soon-to-be film is rumored to “whitewash,” filling in the roles of non-white characters with white roles, leaving fans of the Nickelodeon show upset.

Avatar: The Last Airbender, or ATLA, focuses on a child who wakes up from being frozen for over a hundred years. Aang, the main character, is called out to find his true identity as the Avatar, the bender/manipulator of all four elements (water, fire, earth, and air).

The creators of this show, Bryan Konierzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, are going to reinitialize the film with a live-action movie based on their previous workings from the 2005 Nickelodeon show. However, last month, the co-creators declared that they no longer were working on the film and had stated on blog posts that Netflix had completely different blueprints than the creators foresaw. However, recently, Netflix has confirmed on Twitter that both originators will still be active on set once again.

“… we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm,” Konierzko wrote in an open letter to fans. “Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we had hoped.” 

Dimartino echoed his co-creators sentiment.

“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino expressed also in an open letter to fans. “So, I chose to leave the project.”

Approximately a month after the creators of the original animated show wrote those letters and posted them in their blogs, Netflix was quick to reassure fans with a responding tweet.

“AND I can confirm that the original creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konierzko, will be back to take on the live-action. THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN TRAINING FOR ALL THESE YEARS,” tweeted Netflix.

Although Netflix strives to bring back the animated sequel, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” continues to receive much criticism from many longtime fans and other people who are familiar with the show. Even if many fans are anxious to see the reboot, not every fan is pessimistic feeling that this Netflix movie will not be another let down like the earlier attempt on the movie from Nickelodeon.

“I feel like the film has a better chance of succeeding because now the creators are involved,” said sophomore Jessica Castro. 

And once Netflix assured fans that the original creators will be back, some are even more hopeful.

“DiMartino and Konierzko were the ones who created the original show,” explained sophomore Isabel Hernandez-Diaz. “Since the first film failed badly without them, I would love to see the live-action adaptation for the fact that with their help, everything will be right this time.”

According to Inverse, an online gaming magazine, statistics show that “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was the highest-rated animated show in its key demographics (ages 6-11) with 5.6 million people tuned in to the series finale in 2008. In 2020, the show became a hit with Netflix viewers and made the streaming service’s “Top 10 in the U.S. Today” list. The popularity of this upcoming film should attract many viewers, especially those who have recognition of the show, and those who are entertained by Netflix Originals.

Netflix is currently in pre-production for the movie “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and has s yet to find actors to star in this up and coming film. However, several fans of the original franchise hope that this new production won’t fall victim to whitewash its characters, including the main characters, just as Nickelodeon has previously done.

“I think they should stick to their culture (Inuit, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese culture),” said Leilani Sio. “How I think it’s going to play may or may not be good…I don’t agree with them (the characters/cast members) being whitewashed.” 

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is mostly based on Chinese and partially Japanese ancient mythology and culture. However, Netflix theories have gone throughout the entire internet, claiming that this new film will too be sugar-coated. The theorists have reason to believe that since Netflix is notorious for whitewashing nearly every type of cultural film, including The Legend Of The Monkey, Marvel’s Iron Fist, Ghost in the Shell, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and so many more. They continued with the action of whitewashing and did not even pay any attention to the importance of culture for those who have created the background. Out of the plentiful of cultural movies, Death Note was the biggest cultural coverup complaint Netflix has made so far, that is if “Avatar: the Last Airbender” will eventually lead to the same direction of the previous films.

Overall, Netflix’s cultural camouflage could be an even more major offense to numerous traditions and customs from other regions and nations, and this new approaching Avatar movie could only attract more conflict to their “whitewashed” degree if they continue with their initial plan.  Fans will just have to wait and see.