Avatar: The Last Airbender Creators Exit Netflix’s Live-Action Adaptation

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Image via Nickelodeon Animation Studio

If you’ve been excited for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix – and honestly, who isn’t looking forward to it? – we have some bad news to share with you today.

Though original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko had been firmly on board the project for a while now, they’ve since exited and will no longer be involved with the new show. This comes as a huge blow to fans, who’ve been hoping that having them around would ensure that the property would be treated with respect and that the live-action adaptation would honor the source material.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Avatar is set in a world where some people are given the ability to bend one of the four elements (fire, water, air and earth). And when the power-hungry Fire Nation sets out to take over the globe, it falls onto the Avatar – a powerful reincarnating figure who can bend all four elements – to stop them.

With a superbly written story, charming characters and fantastic action, it didn’t take long for Avatar: The Last Airbender to amass a huge fanbase upon its debut in the mid-2000s. And after recently being added to Netflix, that fanbase only grew even larger.

Now, with renewed interest, the streamer is planning a live-action adaptation, but unfortunately, it will not have the involvement of the show’s creators. Speaking about their decision to walk away, here’s what DiMartino said:

Look, things happen. Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change. And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.

I started to reevaluate what is truly important in my life and what I wanted to do with what’s left of it. I took some advice from Uncle Iroh. I looked inward and started asking myself the big question: “Who are you and what do you want?”

I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn’t. 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.

And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. 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.

I also want to be clear that this doesn’t mean the end of my involvement in the Avatar universe. These stories and characters are important to me and the renewed interest and excitement in Avatar and Korra has been inspiring to see.

You can read the rest of his statement on his personal website via the link below, but again, this is a big setback and will no doubt upset many fans. After all, given how the movie adaptation turned out, folks have a right to be concerned about this new attempt to bring Avatar: The Last Airbender into live-action.

Still, let’s not rush to any judgements just yet. For now, we’ll remain cautiously optimistic about this one. Netflix have a strong track record, let’s not forget, and you have to imagine that they know they’re dealing with a very special and cherished property. As such, we’re hopeful that even without the involvement of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, they’ll be able to deliver.