Can We Reboot “The Last Airbender” Already?

2 years ago, we were handed one of the worst movies of all time that was depicting one of the greatest animated series of all time. Our feelings were hurt when The Last Airbender (TLA) failed to capture the greatness of Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA).

With the rising popularity and success of the animated series’ successor, The Legend of Korra, it’s high-time that Hollywood try again with the Avatar series while the timing is still good.

By the way, I spent a lot of time talking about social media last week, so expect this week to be a little more entertainment-heavy.

Now, let’s get some basic points out of the way. ATLA is my favorite animated series of all time. Debuting in 2005, this show had everything I could possibly want in a sprawling epic.

Amazing animation (it is an American cartoon animated in South Korea), deep and interesting lore, a high-stakes storyline (making it accessible for an older audience), some of the most memorable characters on television, and even humor.

So, making a movie out of this show should have been a cinch. As we understand it, the show’s studio gave Hollywood a lot of freedom with the story, over $150 million was put into its production, and the show lends itself very nicely to a trilogy since it was made with three seasons.

The movie even had M. Night Shyamalan directing it.

Well, okay, all of these things ended up being a negative. Hollywood ruined the story because they had too much freedom, they spent way too much money on the wrong things, making three movies meant changing the length of the story to keep up with aging actors, and M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed it.

If you haven’t seen the movie or know what I’m talking about, watch these videos that recap everything wrong with the movie pretty perfectly (SPOILERS from here on out).

The question being asked by some is whether or not Shyamalan will follow-up this disaster of a movie with a sequel the movie begged.

Obviously, no one outright wants it, but the movie did manage make $300 million worldwide. So, the movie does make sense financially, if not critically.

Still, that’s no guarantee the sequel will manage to pull off the same magic, especially if none of the first movie’s mistakes are corrected.

That said, I have two possible solutions that would please everyone.

We should either reboot the first movie or go the way of The Incredible Hulk (Most people did not like Ang lee’s Hulk that came out in 2003, so 2008′s The Incredible Hulk served as an unofficial sequel to the 2003 film).

A reboot is the nice solution, because it would take less effort to rework the movie’s mistakes.

Here’s my wish-list for a reboot:

1. Change the writers. The animated series had different writers for almost all of their episodes. Tapping into their talent for a movie just makes sense, especially since they’re the biggest reason (along with the creators) why the series was successful.

2. Pronounce the names correctly. Shyamalan decided that the names in the show were not pronounced correctly in Asian. That was misguided, considering the show takes place in an alternate world influenced by Asian themes, not Asia. Changing the pronunciation did nothing but annoy all of the show’s fans.

3. Change the casting strategy. In the movie, the Fire Nation was depicted by Indians, the Water Tribe was caucasian, the Earth Kingdom was chinese, and the Air Nomads were diverse. This doesn’t make sense alongside the show at all.

The Fire Nation was clearly influenced by the Japanese, which we see in their culture, architecture, and how we find out later on that “firebending” originated with dragons. So, why not carry that over to the movie? Also, a Japanese actor playing Zuko would be way more interesting.

The Earth Kingdom makes way more sense as the “diverse” nation because they are largest. Even the show implies this, since Zuko and Iroh were able to pass as Earth Kingdom refugees in season 2, and many of the characters in this part of the world look very different from each other.

The Water Tribe is composed of two separate tribes, the North and South Pole. You can get away with having Europeans depict the North Pole, but Katarra and Sokka should just be darker skinned like they are in the show to please the fans. A “white” Katarra is just too much of a change, and our pop culture could really use more diversity anyways.

Also, Dev Patel would’ve made a far better Sokka than Jason Rathbone. Sokka is humorous and very animated. Patel’s “Anwar” in Skins was one of the most animated characters in that show, so why not give him a character with more to do?

Finally, the Air Nomads should be Chinese for the same reason that the Fire Nation should be Japanese. They clearly represent Tibetan monks, and we’d have an easier time casting a child actor for Aang who can handle all of the physical stunts throughout the trilogy.

4. Rework the plot. The first season of Avatar is the most challenging to compress into one movie because almost every episode is “standalone.” It’s basically about a group of friends travelling the world having various adventures.

That said, the movie left a lot of really critical characters out, including the Kyoshi Warriors and King Bumi, who play major roles in the other seasons. 

Here’s how I would break it down: The first act would focus on Aang, Sokka, and Katarra. We needed that more in TLA, which glossed over major character development points.

The second act should introduce us to the Kyoshi Warriors and King Bumi, who could be Aang’s method of receiving his world-saving mission from Roku. This could all culminate with Book 1′s most important episode, The Blue Spirit, which teaches us a lot more about Zuko.

Finally the third act would focus on the North Pole, giving us more time to commit to Yue’s character, Aang’s confrontation with Koh, the fight between Zuko, Katarra, and Zhao, and Aang’s epic fight against the entire Fire Nation navy.

5. Make the movie longer. Yes, this is a kid’s movie, but that didn’t stop us from letting Harry Potter have at least 2 hours, and there’s really no other way to tell the show’s story.

I’d go on, but you get the point. A reboot would be a much-needed, major overhaul of the 2011 iteration.

As I said before, we could also just skip the reboot and do the sequel as an unofficial follow-up to the reboot I just described. After all, season 2 of the show was far more like a serialized saga with major set pieces, making a movie easier to create.

Or we could leave ATLA alone and just skip to a prequel for Legend of Korra. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a young version of Korra mastering water, earth, and fire?

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84 thoughts on “Can We Reboot “The Last Airbender” Already?

  1. I so agree with you! The effects, cast, and everything was so wrong! But even though this movie sucks a lot, I really want to see a reboot of the original story. With everything new! If they reboot it entirely different, I’d definitely give it another chance. There should be a demand for it in Hollywood. I’m surprised nothing happened yet to fix it…

    • Me too. I noticed that the movie sucked when I first saw it. I absolutely LOVE this guys wish list for the reboot. I think the reboot should be named the same as the television series. Either that or just name like the first one. That’s just my opinion.

      • If you thought the movie was in any way good then continue with your delusion, because the vast majority of us are infuriated with it. I can only gather that you can’t be a real fan of the animated series, in fact your big support for M.Nights “success” of it is actually mocking the show. Its an insult that this movie was created in the manner that it was. A reboot would be perfect and another chance at getting everything right, from the cultures of the nations to the actual acting of the cast (to many faults to name).

  2. I think we can all agree that Shyamalan is just a failure when it comes to this. Also I completely agree about the Koh and Bumi, but I also wish they would’ve shown June, the bounty hunter. She does show up at the end of book 3 also and I think would add a lot of thrill. Another thing he messed up on was how fire benders shoot fire. They don’t get it from an external source unlike water and earth and that kind of irked me as well, along with the epic book 1 finale when Aang combines with the ocean spirit to take out the fire nation or even travels to the spirit world :( Personally I think they should get a new director and actors and continue with the series. I mean I won’t complain if they reboot if they start new but I don’t want to wait any longer to see Toph!

      • You are trolling for sure, yes? I think so.
        He has made some awesome movies for sure, but this one just stank. It didn’t even look pretty, like some of his other crummier (but still prettily shot) movies. Especially after all the interviews and appearances he made before, talking about how much he loved the characters and world. Worst of all was how he said Kitara was his daughter’s favorite character because she was such a strong character, and because non-white female characters were so uncommon … yet she is blond, and just cries with a runny nose the whole time in the movie. I don’t get it. It is unwatchable. :(

        Very good reboot suggestions, also!

  3. I think that your wish list would work if the last airbender is rebooted. I follow you up on that 100%. My idea for a writer and/or director should be one of the creators of the original cartoon series. Well, that’s just my opinion.

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  5. Hell yes!! Avatar was the greatest cartoon of all time. These were also the best storyline. Better than startrek, wars, or anything else. Was so excited when they announced the movies, and equally crushed when mnight shamalama dickhead ruined it. They need a reboot and mnight should b executed for how he butchered this. Really, has anyone ever done a worse job? Ritoricle question. The story deserves a speilberg or abrams. Crap, I would take bay

    • That’s what you think? Spielberg, Abram or Bay? Michael Bay puts bad language, sex, nude, and lots of garbage in his movies. If he reboots this movie, then no kid will ever see it. And it would have garbage in it.

      • Grinda milo you must live under a rock Michael bays work has been beyond extraordinary from bad boys to pirates of the carribean to black sails and transformers he is a better director than scamalon

  6. This needs to be a huge project, splitting all books to capture all the great characters in this series. 8 movies would b great. But you would need to shoot them all in no more than 3 years. 2 would be better. Be a huge investment (1.2billion). Is it worth that?? Hell yes!!

  7. I think its fine! The movie was incredible! You people need to show more respect to M. Night! I’m sick of you people saying that it needs a reboot! What we need is the continuation of the trilogy! Then people can decide weather or not we should reboot it or not! I still think it should not be rebooted! THE MOVIE WAS AWASEM! I was breathless when The Avatar raised the ocean, and the music was so beautiful. James Newton Howard is perfect for the score. SO…NO REBOOT!!!!

    • If you really liked it Grinda, that is quite alright. Go ahead and keep watching it. But for the vast majority of us who don’t like it, we’re going to keep hoping for a reboot or reworking of everything we found wrong with it (of which there is a lot).

    • Again you are wrong it will take at least 7 movies total to do the cartoon true justice and to tell everything that happens a trilogy is a slap in the face and an insult m night scamalon got everything wrong the movie was a joke and second learn how to spell correctly

    • Go watch the nostalgia critic review of this movie and he will sum it up in all that is wrong with this movie, including major flaws! ALSO HOW THE HELL CAN 6 GUYS FUCKING MOVE ONE TINY PEPPLE AT ONE FIRE NATION GUARD WHEN IN THE SHOW ONE GUY COULD FUCKING MOVE MOUNTAINS AND 6 GUYS MOVED A FUCKING TANK!

  8. @Grinda, To say the acting was Brilliant is a tremendous overstatement. The characters are rather different, and come out flat even when viewed independently from the original series. While there’s something to be said for some of the artistic decisions made, and for trying to make the movie into an artistic piece separate from the animated series, it is a painful departure from many of the essential spiritual and martial arts themes so carefully built into the original.

    • When it came towards the acting it was like Sokha and Katara (don’t know if I am spelling their names right) were reading straight off of a piece of paper In front of the class or something. Like they were presenting a project or an essay. HELL! EVEN I WOULD HAVE SAID A PRESENTATION AND OR ESSAY WITH MORE PERSONALITY THAN THE KID ACTORS!

  9. My children ages 4,5,and6 when they first saw the live action version were pointing out how wrong the actress playing katarra pronounced Aang’s name and that was their smallest complaint. .to me the acting of those portraying sokka,katarra and Aang was so dry that it was rather uncomfortable .sokka had no sense of humor which is a big part.of his personality..Aang is way to serious. He was a kid and acted like one. while at the same time knowing when play time was over..Iroh was not all like he should have been..i dont care what anyone else says this was a flop..please lets have a reboot!! Honor the story..portray ot the right way..

    • to me all the characters were out of place. General Iroh was not enough caring towards zuko like he is In the show and in the show he is usually a very relaxed kind of guy. Sokha (don’t think it is the correct spelling) wasn’t funny and I swear I laughed at every joke he said in the series on how corny and clever they were to the situation. Katara (again don’t know If I am spelling her name correctly) was supposed to be a caring person who has that motherly sort of feeling. Also she was a bad ass when it came to water bending and when it came to the movie she seemed like she was a pussy! Very weak and not at all strong. In the show she was kicking zukos ass while defending aang (no idea if spelling is correct) and I don’t know how zuko prevailed but in the show she got hit in one move which was very frustrating for me to see….

  10. I have to say I watched that movie again recently, and I agree with some of the comments here regarding the acting, storyline, etc.,..but aside from all that, the choreography and animated graphics and colors were just simply beautiful and stunning. I could just watch those parts all day because they were so magical. Whatever they do I hope they use that animation style again which was primarily in the opening and closing credits.

  11. I truly believe that a reboot would be a great start-over for the series it is a magnificent series and to see it belittled and brought down to that level just makes you disappointed on so many levels. To make a reboot would be a great way for Hollywood to show respect to the true fans of the series I agree with all the ideas off the wish list those ideas will make this movie come back in becoming a hit in the Hollywood and movie industries for years to come.

  12. A reboot is a must in this case scamalon should have never been involved he changed everything it was kind of like watching the play aang and his friends with watched horrible acting and the story telling was garbage even apa didnt look right please let there be a remake

  13. He could have at least got the names right. And Honestly I dont recall noticing a difference in anyone’s race in the animated series. Everyone pretty much looked Asian too me. I liked the movie for entertainment value but as far as the original story was concerned too many things were changed and off. I will point out that one of the “Movie sins” in the video made a point of saying “thanks for wearing different colors for the different nations” with sarcasm and if I recall corecctly they did that in the animated series…Fire nation wore red, earth kindom green, water tribes, blue…so I thought that was probably the only thing he did get right…And again I couldnt stand to hear the name changes, or the trios lack of humor. But I probably dont have much more to say that hasnt been said. I only posted because they just showed the movie again on TV and it broke my heart to think it will never be done right.

  14. I agree with the 6-8 moive series but I can also take a new rebooted trilogy. I find it offensive to the fans the the names were pronounced WRONG, the character development was HORRIBLE, the effects were MEDICORE. I would really love an reboot or better yet how about do a money about the adult aang and crew! Answer the where is zuko’s mother question. I’d go for that. Lol

  15. To those who say they liked this, movie must have never seen an episode of avatar or you wouldn’t be so quick to jump to M. Nights defense because he did not do this movie justice. Worst movie ever reboot please!!!!

  16. The casting didn’t bother me that much as I had read an early interview with the original series creators where they said while the cultures depicted had Asian influences the people/characters where meant to be racially ambiguous so that any kid of any race could relate to the various characters.

    But while I have enjoyed M Night’s previous movies TLA just didn’t measure up. Visually it was stunning but he managed to leave out everything he said he liked about the series and that made it a delight to watch.

    Aang was angst ridden & joyless instead of fun loving & playful, Katara was whiney & weepy instead of strong & compasionate, and sarcastic jokster Sokka was nowhere in sight. There just wasn’t enough of Zuko to make much of an impression.

  17. Hey jon, stop being silly M. Night did a good job with what technology we have. And I to watch the television series and can plainly see that the fire nation is Indian. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. :)

  18. To make a reboot successful, they need to make it more than just a trilogy. All three books have anywhere from 2-4 climaxes in the overall storyline, and introduce even more important characters at the same time. I think the only way to do A:TLA any sort of justice is to break it up into 7 movies. It sounds like a lot, but it’s better than cramming too much into too little time.

    1- End the first movie after the Winter Solstice: Part 2
    2- End the second at the end of Water
    3- End the third after The Library (Appa’s capture)
    4- End the fourth at the end of Earth
    5- End the fifth after the Day of Black Sun: The Eclipse
    6- End the sixth after (this ones tricky) either The Southern Raiders or Part 1 of Sozin’s Comet, to preview ….whats to come
    7- Sozin’s Comet

    I don’t know if I’m onto anything here, but I just thought this would be the way to properly honor such a great show. For those who may ask if people would actually wait for 7 movies- We waited for 8 Harry Potters, and I think Avatar has just as much potential.

  19. As a huge fan of Avatar: The last Airbender, I absolutely agree with the re-boot! Worst Director, worst interpretation of the movie and overall in no way did the series justice. To everyone who loved M. Nights version, Have you actually sat down and watched all the books? Because I’m sure most, if not all of us that have would agree he absolutely butchered it. I agree it had great effects and if I hadnt seen the books I would agree that the movie was good, but it does not adhere to its orgin.

    I would definatey make it a trilogy spread through at least 6 movies, rather than cram them into 3. Make all the changes as stated in your article, and make Ang and Sokka funny!

    Honestly though, If they remake this and kill it again, I’ll become the next Avatar and fire bend all evidence of these failures then earth bend a hole, airbend the ashes into it and use my waterbending to cover it with an Ocean. Amen

  20. I would love to see a reboot of Avatar: The last Airbender as either live-action movie or a miniseries (maybe in the style of historical epic Asian dramas/Korean dramas). But I want the live-action reboot to be a co-productions between Hollywood, South Korea, and Mainland China. Both South Korea and Mainland China have film production that can hold candle to Hollywood. I mean how many of you are fans of K-pop?? Hallyu?? How many of you watch films from South Korea??? I mean both South Korea and Mainland China film has been getting a lot of attention and awards from various international film festival, if you want Avatar: The last Airbender live-action to work, Hollywood must work with South Korea and Mainland China film companies to pull this off. South Korea’s cutting CG animation has been getting a lot of attention from US and worldwide.

    You see South Korea and Mainland China should get involved with the co-productions. I’ve been looking at actors/actresses from both South Korea and China, I think some of the Hallyu stars from South Korea could fit the characters for the live-action adaptation. I don’t know who could play Aang and Sokka. But for other characters, I know who could fit these characters:

    Zuko- I think OK Taecyeon of 2PM could fit Zuko. Taecyeon’s acting experience include 2 K-dramas: Cinderella’s SIster, Dream High, and Who are you? He was recently in a Korean film, Marriage Blue. So he could take on the character. Taecyeon is also a fluent English speaker, so no problem here.

    Katara-I know 2 actresses from South Korea that could fit the character in term of looks and capturing it right.

    Krystal Jung: Krystal is one of the member of K-pop girl group: f(x). Krystal’s acting experience: she played a supporting characters in The Heirs, a well-known Korean dramas which you can watch on Hulu. Krystal was born in the US and she is fluent in English, But the drawback for Krystal: I don’t know if she can handle a character like Katara.

    Bae Suzy: Suzy is of the member of K-pop girl group, Miss A. She is an accomplished actresses and has appeared in very well known K-dramas: Dream High, Gu Family Book, and Big (all of these K-dramas you can watch on Hulu). She is also in the Korean film, Architecture 101. She has won many awards for her acting, I think she could pull off the character. Suzy is good with to hand to hand combat as demonstrated in Gu Family Book, so I think she could handle the role of Katara. The big drawback for her: her English, she’s not fluent.

    Iroh-I always thought Choi-Min Sik (of Oldboy fame) and Hong Kong based actor, Anthony Wong could fit that role.

    Ozai-I would say Lee Byung Hun would be perfect to be casted as Ozai. Lee Byung Hun for some of you that don’t know, he played Storm Shadow in the 2 GI Joe films. He played a bad guy in Red 2, and he has done various K-dramas (IRIS is his best role I’ve seen, you can watch it on Hulu). Also He played a king the Korean film, The Masquerade. After seeing him as a king in that film, I think he the best candidate to play Ozai.

    Azula-I know 2 Korean actresses that fit this character really well in term of look, and maybe capturing the character:

    Kim Soo-Hyun aka Claudia Kim-She is an actress from South Korea. She played in various Korean dramas. She’ll make her American debut in the upcoming Avenger film sequel. She does resemble Azula, and I like to add she is fluent in English. The drawback is: She will turn 30 years old next year and I don’t think a 30 year old actress would pass a 17 year old.

    Park-Shin Hye- Now she is a well-accomplish actress and she is very well-known to K-drama fans for playing in hit K-drama like You’re Beautiful and The Heirs. She’s very well-known around the world for that drama. I think she can fit Azula and unlike Claudia Kim, she is is 24 years old and she could pass as a 17 years old for that character. The problem is: she’s not fluent in English.

    This is my dream cast list for a 2nd adaptation/reboot if Hollywood team up with South Korea and Mainland China to redo Avatar: The Last Airbender.

  21. After the god-awful rendition of Book One that was TLA, it’s time that the non-A:TLA fans saw what actually happened and why the first one was such a royal circle-jerk. I agree with the Harry Potter-esque format, and I would hope that Michael and Brian are in on the production to make sure that no one butchers the storyline or screws with the character development, which is second to none.

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