Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Netflix's Avatar The Last Airbender Live-Action - What We Know So Far

Nickelodeon's mid-2000s animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender is, arguably, the greatest animated series of all-time. The show was beloved during the time it was airing, and its legend has only grown now that a new generation of fans have discovered it on Netflix.

The show has been so successful on Netflix, in fact, that in the fall of 2018, the company announced that it was doing a live-action adaptation of the series, with original series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko at the helm. (The series had previously been adapted in 2010 as a live-action film by M. Night Shyamalan, which was rejected by critics and audiences alike.)

"We're thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender," Konietzko and DiMartino said at the time, per TV Guide. "We can't wait to realize Aang's world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone's great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we're incredibly grateful to be partnering with them."

The show was supposed to go into production in 2019, but then, in August 2020, Michael Dante DiMartino announced on his website that he and Bryan Konietzko left the project two months earlier, citing creative differences with Netflix. In a subsequent Instagram post, Konietzko said Netflix failed to deliver on its promises and created "a negative and unsupportive environment." Since then, details about where the show stands have been scarce. 

However, here's what we know so far. 

What's the release date of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender?

As of yet, there is no release date — because the status of the project is unclear. The most recent public update on Avatar came in January, in a Deadline story about producer Dan Lin and his company Rideback. The story was about Lin signing a new deal with Universal, but Rideback is also a producer of the live-action Avatar, and tucked into the story was a disclosure that Avatar is still in pre-production. So, while Avatar is still being developed, there's no indication that the series will even start filming soon, let alone come out. It may be getting completely re-developed without DiMartino and Konietzko, which could mean it will take another long while before production starts.

A new showrunner has not been announced since DiMartino and Konietzko left the project. After they left, Netflix gave a statement to Inverse that the company is still invested in the project and "confident in the creative team and their adaptation." According to well-informed fan account Avatar News, the only confirmed member of the creative team is composer Jeremy Zuckerman, who also did the music for the original Avatar and its spin-off, The Legend of Korra.

Who will be in the cast of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender?

So far, no cast members for the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series on Netflix have been announced, and considering the state of things at the time of this writing, it is highly unlikely that anyone has been cast yet. The only thing we know about the casting process, to date, is what DiMartino and Konietzko said when the series was announced — which was that they intended to assemble a cast of primarily Asian descent, or as they put it, "a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast." 

Hopefully, Netflix honors that part of their vision. The whitewashing in the 2010 live-action film was seen as deeply problematic and only worsened the movie's already poor reception: as reported by The Boston Globe that year, the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, a Los Angeles organization, actually pushed for a boycott of the film — the first time they had done so in their history — because of this very issue. Perhaps not surprisingly, fans have already launched a Change.org petition demanding culturally appropriate casting for the TV show's characters.

What is the plot of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender?

With the status of the show itself unknown, the plot of the show is similarly up in the air, though it will presumably follow the plot of the animated series to some degree.

The animated fantasy adventure series is about a 12-year-old boy named Aang, who is the titular "Avatar," the only person capable of controlling the four elements of water, earth, fire, and air, through a telekinetic martial arts-like power called "bending." Aang is the last surviving member of the Air Nomads nation and, as the Avatar, is tasked with restoring peace and balance to his world. He and his friends set out on a quest to end the world war being waged by the Fire Nation. Along the way, the reluctant hero must learn to master his powers, embrace his destiny, and accept his responsibility as the Avatar.

The original Avatar: The Last Airbender is available to stream on Netflix and CBS All Access.