Iroh actor reacts to mixed reviews for Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender star Paul Sun-Hyung gets candid about the mixed reviews for Netflix's live-action remake of the classic animated series.
Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

Netflix's live-action remake of Nickelodeon's beloved fantasy cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender was partly doomed from the get-go. The fandom had already saw an atrocious attempt at a live-action movie back in 2010 from director M. Night Shyamalan, and many were wary about another attempt.

Turns out, the Netflix remake did pretty well, and the streamer has renewed it for another two seasons, meaning it will get to tell the whole story. Still, season 1 got numerous bad and lukewarm reviews. This was an inevitable outcome, one that star Paul Sun-Hyung (Iroh) and the team had to take on the chin.

"From my point of view, it looked like some of these reviewers just had already made up their minds beforehand, based on everything that they heard instead of the actual, like actually watching the show," he told The Direct. "And they were ready to just pick it apart. Whereas the fans really sort of embraced it. And were like, I don't know about this, I'm cautiously optimistic. But the majority of them really enjoyed it."

That said, Sun-Hyung was still taken aback by just how forceful some of the detractors were. "I was actually surprised at how critical some of the outlets were towards it...I'm biased, because you know, I'm part of it."

The live-action show currently sits at 7.2/10 on IMDb and a fair 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not glowing ratings by any stretch, but respectable given the high expectations. Many viewers were not impressed by storylines being completely changed. And the remake had a darker vibe than the original series, almost as if it were trying to capture Game of Thrones fans. Going into season 2, Sun-Hyung believes the cast and crew have learned plenty from the fan response, enough to make the show blossom in its later seasons:

"And I'm really impressed with the fan community for doing and embracing that. It was really kind of going well; it wasn't perfect, but we really did enjoy it. And then, at the end of the day, that's all you want. And we're learning, too. So, it's one of those things where things have to grow. It's very, very rare that something is pitch-perfect right out of the gates, right?"

Avatar: The Last Airbender will run for two more seasons to complete the saga. This renewal was a big feat in itself, taking into account Netflix's tendency to cancel shows prematurely. Given how it's such a massive production, don't expect new episodes to arrive anytime soon.

Elsewhere in the Avatarverse, Nickelodeon is extending the cartoon continuity with their upcoming movie Aang: The Last Airbender, now set for release in 2026.

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