How The Last Airbender bosses have "tweaked the rules" of the Avatar state

Netflix's new remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender looks very true to the original animated show, but of course they are changing SOME things:
Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gordon Cormier as Aang in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023
Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gordon Cormier as Aang in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Next month, Netflix debuts a new live-action show based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it is looking pretty great. People who remember the adventures of Aang, Sokka, Katara, Zuko and the rest will surely have pangs of nostalgia when they see these animated favorites played by flesh-and-blood actors, and newcomers may be intrigued by a fantasy world inspired mainly by East Asian cultures which is also full of elemental magic and crazy critters:

The producers of Avatar: The Last Airbender, including showrunner Albert Kim, are committed to preserving the quirkier elements from the animated show in this live-action remake, like those critters. In the trailer, you'll see ostrich-horse hybrid creatures pulling carriages and possibly fall in love with Appa, the cuddly flying bison used by our hero Aaag and his friends as a mode of transport. "We needed to make sure we got him right," Kim said while breaking down the trailer for IGN.

At the same time, things did need to be changed during the jump from animation to live-action, not to mention the fact that while the first season of the original show had 20 half-hour-long episodes, the new series has eight hour-long episodes. One of the things Kim and company futzed around with was the rules governing the Avatar state, which we see Aang activate towards the end of the trailer.

Let's back up for a second. In the world of The Last Airbender, certain people have the ability to "bend" the elements: air, water, fire and earth, controlling them at will for all kinds of purposes, although on the show we often see bending used as a weapon. Aang is an airbender. He is also the Avatar, the one person on the planet who can control all four elements, and whose responsibility it is to bring peace to a world at war.

The Avatar also has the ability to enter the Avatar state, a kind of god mode where their powers are multiplied several times over. An inexperienced Avatar like Aang can only enter the Avatar state under very particular conditions; in the trailer, we see it happen when he visits his old home in the Southern Air Temple only to find it in ruins. His shock and dismay brings on the Avatar state.

Or at least that's what happens in the original show. Kim said that the Avatar State will work a little differently in the remake. "[W]e actually don't see Aang going into the Avatar state as much in our first season as they did in the animated series because we wanted to make sure that it felt very special and we wanted to make it very clear that Aang could only access that state in a specific set of circumstances," he explained. "We actually tweaked the rules a little bit from the original series as to when and how he can access that state, but that's part of doing an adaptation like this, like there's certain things that we are going to modify, we're going to change."

Kim's hope is that "fans will see that it's all for the good of the story as a whole" and he and his team translate it from one medium to another. So far, I like what I've seen, but we can all judge for ourselves when Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1 drops on Netflix on February 22.

Next. Airbender. Every actor in Netflix’s Avatar: the Last Airbender remake (and who they’re playing). dark

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