Avatar: The Last Airbender creators walk away from live-action remake

Concept art by John Staub
Concept art by John Staub /

Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have left Netflix’s live-action remake, and we are sad.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is enjoying a huge revival in popularity right now. The animated epic just debuted on Nickelodeon where it’s gotten an influx of new fans, some of whom are pretty passionate about it. This is great, because the original show is wonderful and deserves to be seen by a new generation.

And the timing is wonderful for Netflix, because it’s currently at work making a live-action remake of the show, with original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko on board to manage everything.

Only NOPE, because DiMartino has just penned an open letter to fans announcing that he and Konietzko are no longer involved with the project. Well s**t.

“When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners,” DiMartino explains. “In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring 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.”

"I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity."

So it sounds like the two left the project over that old chestnut, “creative differences.” I have no idea why Netflix wouldn’t want to follow the lead of the two guys who created the show they’re remaking, but here we are.

There’s no avoiding that this is disappointing news. Do you remember what happened the last time a studio tried to adapt The Last Airbender as a live-action project without the input of the creators? M. Night Shyamalan gave us this:

It still hurts to remember.

“And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good,” DiMartino continued. “It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. 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.”

Ugh, this is crushing. And I don’t think DiMartino sounds particularly enthusiastic about whatever direction Netflix decided to take.

What could Netflix have been doing that made DiMartino and Konietzko walk? Immediately, I assume it was something stupid and wrongheaded. Did they want to cast white people in the East Asian roles, like Shyamalan did with his movie to much blowback? Did they want to eliminate the complex characters? The brisk plotting? The thrilling fight scenes? The empathetic worldview? WHAT ABOUT THIS AWESOME SHOW WASN’T UP TO YOUR STANDARDS, NETFLIX?

Sorry, clearly I’m working through something. Hopefully we’ll get more details about exactly what went down later.

Next. See every beautiful image from the 2021 A Song of Ice and Fire calendar. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels