Avatar: The Last Airbender has remained a popular gem for audiences. Originally a three season animated series on Nickolodeon, many got excited (And ultimately massively disappointed) when M. Night Shyamalan-helmed live-action film in 2010 titled The Last Airbender (To avoid confusion with James Cameron's 2009 film Avatar). A film that was considered so bad and inaccurate to the show (I kid you not, names of many characters were even said wrong in the film), that many felt it almost destroyed the franchise. Luckily, it didn't and a highly successful follow-up series titled The Legend of Korra (Which ran for four seasons) came to be. Fans got even more excited when Netflix announced they would do a live-action adaptation of the series, this time with the show's original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko attached as executive producers and showrunners. They had been with the project since it was announced two years ago in hopes of making it more faithful than M. Night's adaptation was. Sadly, that is not the case anymore.
They have announced today they will be exiting the Netflix adaptation because they could not “control the creative direction of the series”. This is not the first time they were burned either. While, before the film came out, they showed enthusiasm for M. Night's adaptation, in 2014 they commented on how they had been pushed aside with the film itself made without their approval. Konietzko, in that same interview, gave the following statement:
"A) We didn't want it to be done at all. Before anyone was attached, we didn't want it. And then B) If it was going to be done, we wanted to do it, but they weren't going to let us. C) When they attached Night, we just thought, 'Well, this is what we've been dealt. We'll just offer help when it's asked of us, and if it's not, we'll stay out of the way'. In the beginning, it was more positive and we offered help, but then we had a big falling out."
History has repeated itself it seems with the duo exiting the Netflix show over similar reasons. With their departure, an open letter was posted on DiMartino’s website. Netflix is still going ahead with the series and added the following:
“It has the potential to be good…. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”
Unfortunate to see a creative force trying to maintain the integrity of their creation, only to be overruled. Sadly, that's part of the business. Stay tuned!